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

Wear a mask to protect others, says Vanderhoof’s top doctor

“I think wearing a mask is a small inconvenience when weighed against the possibility of giving vulnerable members of our community an infection that could kill them,” the doctor said.

Here is what school will look like for FLESS students

Students are going back to school on June 1 on a voluntary, part-time basis.

7 projects in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Burns Lake receive NKDF funding

Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society announced $139,702 in funding on May 29.

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible.

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read