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Welcome the Return of the Salmon in Maple Ridge on Sunday

The free, annual KEEPS event allows visitors to get up close with the chum
In past years, before the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds attended the Return of the Salmon event in Maple Ridge. (The News files)

A celebration of the salmon’s life cycle will be taking place in Maple Ridge.

The Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society, KEEPS, will be hosting the Return of the Salmon festival on Sunday, Oct. 23, at the 240th Street fish fence where visitors will be able to learn about the salmon’s journey upstream in addition to getting up close to a live one.

Ross Davies with the society said he’s been at the fish fence for days now watching the chum and the current drought has not bothered the fish at all.

“What we’ve started seeing as of last Saturday, the Kanaka chum, they just looked at each other and thought, the heck with the low water, we’re going guys. So they started showing up below the fish fence,” he said.

Davies added that he doesn’t want to pass judgement just yet, however, “the numbers look guardingly optimistic at this point, I would say.”

The fish fence was installed to contain the salmon in order to provide an estimate of strength of the current run. It also allows the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society to obtain brood stock for the Bell-Irving Hatchery and for the salmon to be studied.

Davies said the rain will be a welcome thing, to help the salmon upstream. However, he noted, he does not want to see a 100 millimetre “Pineapple Express” right off the hop, because the ground is so hard, the water will just run right off it, causing problems.

What he would like to see is some nice gentle rain, about 10-15 mm, every two days, what he calls typical fall pattern.

“That’s what the doctor’s ordered. Whether we get that or not remains to be seen,” he noted.

Ross said on Sunday people will also learn about the operations of the fish fence and more about its purpose and ways to get involved with his group, KEEPS, or other groups in the community.

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New for this year, people will get to see the community mural that tells the whole story about the connection of the salmon, the forest, the bears, the eagles, said Davies.

KEEPS is a not-for-profit society whose mission is to maintain the health of the Kanaka Creek watershed’s natural ecosystems through education, community involvement, scientific research, land preservation and partnerships based on stewardship principles.

The society conducts 120 to 140 environmental education programs every year.

Return of the Salmon takes place 11-2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, at the south west corner of 240 Street and Kanaka Creek Road in Maple Ridge. Admission is free.

However, Davies added, if people can’t make it this Sunday, KEEPS volunteers will also be at the fish fence next Sunday, Oct. 30, and the Sunday after that, Nov. 6, from 11-2 p.m. in a reduced role for people to visit and ask questions.

“We know people have busy schedules, busy lives, and they may not be able to make it on the 23,” said Davies.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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