OPINION: Respect our salmon

Please, enjoy the outdoors.  But, also, please — be mindful of your surroundings.  This is a message that should be shouted from the mountaintops at greater volume following locals’ recent discovery that some sections of the Stawamus River were dammed up by people. Presumably, these folks were under the impression that it would be a good idea to create a bathtub in the middle of the river.

It’s probable that their intentions were good. However, people need to realize that every time substantial alterations are made to our environment, there are consequences down the road. In this case, the man-made dams ended up blocking pink salmon from entering their spawning grounds. This situation could’ve been catastrophic. At worst, it would’ve left them stranded at a choke point, resulting in thousands of deaths. Luckily, Valleycliffe residents, local conservationists and other volunteers — kudos to them — caught the problem relatively quickly and have been working to open up the dam. For now, it seems as if a potential crisis has been averted. But we were lucky this time.

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In this case, sharp-eyed residents sounded the alarm rather quickly. The locations of the dams are relatively close to a populated area where people would be likely to see them.

However, what happens if this occurred in a more remote location? In such cases, thousands of salmon could’ve died and we may have never realized it — until the next spawning season in 2021. Pink salmon spawn every other year. So while there has rightfully been a massive amount of emphasis on educating people to be safe outdoors, there must also be an equal amount of education letting people know that the environment is not for tampering. In cases where people are ignorant of the consequences of their actions, education is key.

To volunteers and conservationists’ credit, folks like the Squamish River Watershed Society, the Squamish Streamkeepers and others are doing their best to get the message across. There’s also been word that the District will be putting up signage in the affected area to help educate the public.

But their efforts can only go so far.

It’s up to everyone in the community to help get this message across to each other and to anyone who might happen to be visiting our town.

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