A new Alouette River Ecosystem Partnership was signed Friday in Maple Ridge to restore salmon runs and ecosystem damage created by the damming and alteration of the Alouette River on the traditional lands of the Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations over the past century.
The partnership involves the City of Maple Ridge and Alouette River Management Society, as well as Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations.
The group will work constructively with B.C. Hydro, which plans to submit a water license application to the provincial Comptroller of Water Rights this fall to secure perpetual rights over Alouette lake and river.
Hydro has perpetual water licenses for two of three water licenses granted to operate the Alouette and Stave generating systems.
Water license 124724 expires on Dec. 31 and Hydro intends to apply for a perpetual water license this fall.
The Alouette River partnership seeks direction from the Comptroller of Water Rights, or formal commitment from Hydro to the restoration of the seven species of Pacific salmon and the creation of permanent fish passage at the Alouette River Dam.
“The Katzie people look forward to working together with our partners to encourage B.C. Hydro and the provincial government to fully restore the seven salmon species and fish passage to Alouette Lake,” said Katzie First Nation Coun. Peter James.
“The City of Maple Ridge stands with our partners. We expect firm commitments from Hydro and the province to restore our salmon runs and commit to the principles we have established in our Memorandum of Understanding,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
Goals of the Alouette River partnership:
• create a functional watershed ecosystem in the Alouette River area that restores all seven species of Pacific salmon;
• provide a scientifically sound and functional fish passage that reconnects the watershed above the dam with the river, for the benefit of all species of salmon and freshwater fish;
• protect and enhance the current freshwater species;
• enhance wildlife resources in the ecosystem;
• develop recreational and educational opportunities with B.C. Parks and other partners.
The partnership sent letters to both the Comptroller of Water Rights and Hydro, requesting meetings on the matter and looks forward to ensuing discussions.
“The Kwantlen First Nation is excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively and respectfully with our partners to develop new ways to give renewed health to the Alouette ecosystem for future generations,” said Kwantlen First Nation Coun. Tumia Knott.
“The Alouette River Management Society is ready to work with all partners to ensure the return of all salmon species and the improvement of the ecosystem,” said Cheryl Ashlie, Alouette River Management Society president.