Township urged to save the Salmon River

Council members are the 'deciders' who will determine fish-bearing stream's fate, says fisheries expert

The Salmon River is at risk and Township council members are ‘the deciders’ of its fate

Calling the Salmon River “something extraordinary,” a fisheries expert has urged Langley Township council to take steps to preserve the waterway that runs through Fort Langley to connect with the Fraser River.

Dr. Marvin Rosenau of BCIT’s Fish Wildlife and Recreation program told the Oct. 28 meeting that development decisions by the mayor and councillors directly affect the Salmon River and the fish that swim in it.

“You guys are the deciders,” Rosenau said, “…the deciding factor as to whether the Salmon River will survive or not.”

He warned against “hardening of the landscape” by allowing  construction too close to the stream.

Concrete and pavement will increase runoff into the river, eroding the fish habitat as the stream bed gets dirtier, Rosenau said.

“You’ve got lots of decisions [about development near the waterway] to make,” Rosenau said.

“The science is pretty straightforward.”

During the question-and-answer that followed the presentation, Mayor Jack Froese said the challenge for council is balancing growth with preservation.

“We have to put people someplace,” Froese said.

Froese added right-to-farm laws limit the Township’s ability to restrict development such as greenhouses near waterways when they are built on agricultural land.

Rosenau was critical of the provincial right-to-farm legislation, calling it “heavy-handed” and “environmentally destructive.”

When Councillor Kim Richter asked Rosenau if the Township should simply stop developing near the river, he replied the municipality should get a groundwater specialist to review the situation.

“You want to get your experts in here,” he said.

Rosenau, who has more than 35 years experience and expertise in dealing with freshwater fisheries in the Fraser Valley, was invited to speak to council after he gave a public presentation on the health and viability of the Salmon River on May 23 at the Fort Langley Community Hall.

The Salmon River Enhancement Society website describes the river as “the most productive stream for its size in the Lower Fraser Valley for coho and cutthroat trout” with steelhead and at least 12 other fish species.

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