There are plenty of people to keep track of fish in the Cheakamus River, but pulling together manpower to improve their habitat is proving to be a harder task.
The Cheakamus Ecosystem Recovery Fund has $400,000 available to community groups each year to take on restoration activities. The funding is part of CN Rail's recovery effort from the 2005 caustic soda spill, which killed 90 per cent of juvenile Steelhead and juvenile Chinook in the river.
At a Cheakamus Ecosystem Recovery information session on Thursday (Oct. 25), a Triton Environmental consultant urged the room to take advantage of the opportunity.
"I'm not saying develop a project and get a cheque but seriously look at projects that can be done and can be put it in the mixed bag of recovery planning," said Tom Watson.
There is one restoration project approved through the fund to date. The Squamish River Watershed Society will be improving the Squamish River estuary-training dyke with a grant of $59,550.
The fund is aimed at local residents and environmental stewardship groups. Watson said it doesn't take a professional to get involved."Some people are going to be saying, 'well I don't have the expertise,' but there is money available to hire an engineer or biologist."There has been a keen interest in monitoring projects, however.
While only $80,000 of the annual fund is meant for monitoring programs, with lagging interest in restoration projects, Watson said extra money has gone toward creel surveys and fish tagging assessments.
"This year, the monitoring has been slightly oversubscribed," he said.
With just two months left in the year, there is still 2007 money to be claimed to give the fish a helping hand. The North Vancouver Outdoor School may be getting its own piece of the funding. The school's manager Carl Halvorson said he is applying to CN for support to run educational programs based on Cheakamus River recovery projects.
Thursday's information session also gave members of the restoration committee the chance to showcase what some of their experts have accomplished in 2007 outside of the community fund.
The group has followed through with five of its six planned restoration projects including the Wilson Slough reunion connecting the Squamish Estuary to the upper Mamquam Blind Channel.The crowd applauded when told the Cheekye River bridge was finished.
"People are seeing that things have been done," said Norman Pellerind, assistant vice-president of CN. "Last year a lot of people were complaining that we were studying a lotbut this night is more about delivery."