Eagle Creek Salmon ReleaseApril 29, 2013
Last weekend, we took the family to the Eagle Creek Salmon Release in Burnaby, organized by the Eagle Creek Streamkeepers. The salmon release is a great educational event for children as it gives them the opportunity to release salmon and understand the lifecycle and challenges they face. The release took place at Charles Rummel Park along Eagle Creek, which flows down along Piper Spit, into Burnaby Lake, and eventually down the Brunette River and into the lower Fraser River.
This year, 75,000 chum salmon were released into the creek, which is a big increase from the 50,000 released annually over the past 5 years. In 2011, an improved fish ladder was built that helped the salmon in getting past the dam on the east side of Burnaby Lake. This improvement and the annual releases have led to a significant increase in salmon returning to Eagle Creek, from about 25 chum 5 years ago to 250 chum in 2012.
Incredibly, returning chum have been spotted higher up Eagle Creek than the release point, making their way north of Lougheed Highway and as far as Broadway, where a culvert prevents further travel. In the fall of 2012, 62 chum were sighted in one day between Lougheed and Broadway and there are no records of salmon being spotted this far up the creek dating back to the 50’s.
Eagle Creek is just one of many urban rivers that flow through populated areas around Vancouver and have seen a growth in the number of returning salmon. This is largely due to the changed attitudes and efforts in protecting our local streams. CBC posted an article about the record number of salmon spawning in urban creeks in November 2012 where Still Creek, that passes through the industrial area of Burnaby and along the Grandview corridor in East Vancouver, was once one of the most polluted creeks in British Columbia. The efforts to clean up Still Creek led to the largest chum return in 80 years in 2012.
Salmon Releases in the community are important events that create awareness of our local environment and the impact of the surrounding urban area. With the continued work of the many organizations who are helping to protect the returning salmon and increase their numbers, the hope is that we will be able to preserve our rivers and their fragile habitats for generations to come.