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Federal fish funds are money well spent, society member says
Folks fighting to help Cowichan River's fish habitat cheered Friday's federal conservation funding doled out at the Cowichan Bay Nature Centre.
That's where Minister of State John Duncan, and fisheries minister Gail Shea awarded six valley projects at total of $203,000 from taxpayers' new Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.
"It was huge application process that had a short notice on people seeking funding," said Bob Crandall of the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society tackling the Beaver Lake Dam Maintenance Project.
His society landed $20,120.
"It'll preserve a threatened coho run of 100 to 200 mating pairs each year grouped in the creek. They were down to almost no coho," Crandall said the project started by the society and the environment ministry in the '90s."
Others funds went to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to restore Oliver Creek Fish Passage habitat; Cowichan Land Trust to restore an enhance critical fish habitat in regional creeks; Quamichan Watershed Stewardship Society for a floating island and bubble aerator to rehabilitate that lake's recreational fishery project; B.C. Wildlife Federation to redevelop Sandy Pool's boat launch and fishery restoration; and SeaChange marine Conservation Society for its Salish Sea Near-Shore Marine Recreational Fisheries Project.
Meanwhile, Crandall's crews are working on the Beaver Lake's dam so it'll pass provincial inspections.
"We had to create an additional spillway, remove old earth, and add blasted rock," he said, cheering various partners helping upgrade where Beaver Creek appears beside the weir.
Spawning platforms and gravel have been added, "and now the DFO has to attach itself to the project."
"We want to get the work finished before Sept. 15, the closing of the in-stream activity window," Crandall said.
The feds' funds twinned his society's $25,000 from Shell, $5,000 from TD Bank, and $5,000 from RBC's Blue Water Fund.
Dam maintenance will also see trail maintenance "so people can see the spawning."
He saw Ottawa's program as money well spent. "You can't turn your back on a strong, producing salmon stream. This makes sure fish have habitat."