Cheakamus River moves down endangered list 

Slow recovery keeps it on annual list

By Vivian Moreau

The Cheakamus River moved from first to seventh place on the list of B.C.’s most endangered rivers this week, according to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C.

The river was first on the list last year as a result of the August, 2005 caustic soda spill that killed 500,000 fish.

“The river remaining on the list a year and a half later highlights the fact that while the river is starting to recover the complete restoration of this amazing waterway will still be years in the making,” said the council’s Mark Angelo.

The council is made up of 40 member groups, including the Federations of Drift Fishers, Fly Fishers, B.C. Naturalists, and the B.C. Camping Association. Each year the council solicits nominations for B.C.’s most endangered rivers from its member groups as well as the general public and resource managers.

“It’s extremely revealing that the Cheakamus River remains a priority on the endangered rivers list 18 months later,” said Edith Tobe of the Squamish River Watershed Society. “Why is it not off the list?”

Last week Environment Minister Barry Penner said he has complained to Ottawa about Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s delay in releasing a report on the Canadian National Railway’s derailment and the subsequent chemical spill that decimated the river’s fish population.

The Flathead River near the B.C./Montana border moved into first place on the Outdoor Recreation Council’s list this year. It faces threats from a proposed Cline open pit coal mine in B.C. that could impact grizzly and fish populations.

Other rivers included on this year’s list include the Capilano River for a poorly designed dam that presents a “host of habitat-related problems” as well as the Coldwater River in the Nicola River system — moved from fifth to third position — whose low summer flows and increased summer water temperatures threaten fish stocks.

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