The Nechako Environment and Water Stewardship Society (NEWSS) will be working on a rogue creek making its way through the Lakes District Secondary School’s yard, under the direction of School District 91 (SD 91).
“I was asked by SD 91 to help them with the stream that is forcing through the high school property called Saul Creek. It has been going a little rogue, it goes through Government Street and the stream is forced through a structure that is a bit narrow. So when you push a stream through such a narrow path, it comes out towards the end with extraordinary pressure and that pressure has taken out the stability of the stream bank and it now looks like it wants to go through the school yard,” said Wayne Salewski, chair of NEWSS, an organization based out of Vanderhoof.
Salewski said that this stream had broken its banks several times over the past years and is now looking for a new path through the school yard. To break through the yard would take some time but eventually the stream would want to break through the school and that will be an even bigger problem, he said.
“Every year it just gets worse. We don’t know when it will finally break through, but we know it is a probability and also when we have unstable banks like that, we move sediments in the stream and that chokes off the gravel where spawning can happen. So that’s also why we want to try and make sure we don’t lose any more opportunities to fix this,” he said.
While the primary goal to fix the creek is to ensure that it doesn’t break bank into the yard, Salewski is also hopeful that the work done to restore the banks, would end up enhancing the stream as a whole and improve its chances of fish spawning.
“We want to enhance its opportunities to bear fish and also provide learning opportunities for the schools in the area there,” he said.
Salewski’s team has been working with SD91 for over 20 years on several projects one of which is called Koh Learning.
“So Koh Learning is a program put out by the school district in conjunction with the First Nations, that brings kids out of the classrooms and into the outdoors for learning experiences. In Burns Lake, Saul Creek could be that learning stream. So we are looking at it for not only stabilizing it but enhancing it so that fish have an opportunity to thrive in it and kids can document and learn along with this,” he said.
Last month, Olin Albertson, head biologist at Avison Management Services, came down to the village, to inspect Saul Creek. He walked the creek, made notes on where it was breaking bank, where the roots on the bank were weak, which areas would need to be restored to enhance chances of spawning, etc. His prescription report will form the basis of the work that will be carried out on the creek.
“We will know the costs for the project from the prescription report and then I will have to fundraise so I will be coming out to the community in Burns Lake and looking at things like the Chinook Community Forest’s fund, and various other fundraising opportunities in the community. So we will see where we can get these funding opportunities from to make this palatable for the school district,” he said.
Salewski is hoping to start work on the project sometime next year after securing the funding and the permits either through the Ministry of Forest, Land, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development or Department of Oceans and Fisheries.
“It takes several years for a stream to thrive but we can see the results incrementally every year. It will also contribute to the health of Burns Lake and create spawning opportunities once the health of the banks is improved,” he concluded.