The federal government released drone footage on Sept. 17, 2019 documenting the work done to help migrating salmon that were trapped in the Big Bar rock slide in the Fraser River. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has released drone footage documenting the work done to help migrating salmon after a disastrous landslide in the Fraser River.

The video includes sweeping views of the Big Bar landslide, about 70 kilometres north of Lillooet, as well as crews making progress to clear debris and capturing salmon to transport them over the slide to their spawning grounds.

The first shots are of a pile of woody debris in an eddy at the base of the slide on July 26 and an overhead view of a beach setup showing how the fish were retrieved.

A shot from Aug. 1 shows a fish wheel being rigged and deployed in the river to catch fish as well.

Tens of thousands of salmon were flown over the barrier by helicopter, a painstaking and expensive process.

Days later, a shot shows salmon trying to make their own way up the river, where more debris had been cleared from the eddy. A closeup shows salmon working their way up to a pool, behind a large boulder.

“They’re trying to migrate around it on either side, but not having any success,” says Mike Hawkshaw, a member of the unified command environment unit, in a voiceover.

READ MORE: Big Bar slide a big engineering challenge for crews trying to move fish

Later, with water velocity and levels coming down, crews began to see successful passage of chinook salmon that they confirmed with tags.

“If you look carefully you can see where salmon are resting in pools and eddys as they work their way up the slide, holding behind rocks,” Hawkshaw says.

The shot shows the size of the salmon compared to the water velocity, the drop and, as they get thrown back into the water, the overall difficulty of the migration.

By Aug. 30, the water level had dropped “significantly” and crews observed that both chinook and sockeye salmon were migrating.

READ MORE: Big Bar slide prompts first-time-ever salmon purchase by four Tsilhqot’in communities

Hawkshaw told Black Press Media that before the videos were released to the public, they were used as a communication tool.

Since the slide is in a remote location and “getting into that area where the scalers are working is pretty unfeasible” unless you are an experienced climber, the videos provided vital information to hydrologists, geologists and engineers off site.

“It provided us a lot of information in a safe manner,” he said. “It really makes it possible for people … to get a good idea of what is going on and how the site is changing day to day.”

READ MORE: Chief calls for state of emergency, fishery closure in light of Big Bar slide

The slide was found in late June. Federal, provincial and First Nations officials have been working to reduce the harm to the river’s significant salmon runs at a shared cost of more than $6 million.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letter: Allen Way rail crossing proposed in 1980

Pitt Meadows mayor at time wanted it at north Bonson.

Maple Ridge group gives back to northern places

Teaching how to grow in isolated First Nations reserves

Maple Ridge school hosts FIRST LEGO competition

Students build and program LEGO MINDSTORMS to find solutions to city landscape designs

Votto, Morneau want Hall of Fame recognition for Larry Walker

Larry Walker’s number will be retired on April 19 at Coors Field

Slideshow: Maple Ridge’s winter wonderland waterways

PHOTOS: Water and wildlife at the Alouette River, Fraser River and Whonnock Lake

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Should winter tires be mandatory in the Lower Mainland?

ICBC dial-a-claims go up as winter storm takes toll

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Fire truck, police car hit in chain of crashes on Hwy. 99

‘People weren’t paying attention,’ says Surrey assistant fire chief

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Most Read