Squirrel Cove’s eagles have been announcing this to anyone listening, for weeks.
Three juveniles rose to flight, in response to the human presence at the mouth of Basil creek. They left their meal on the bank. The head of a salmon had been pecked off. Its body lay further up the bank.
Every year, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) allots Cortes Island $25,000 to be distributed to Cortes Island organizations as Grants-in-Aid. While the final decision is made by the SRD Board, the process begins locally. This year Regional Director Noba Anderson has committed to making her recommendation based on the input of Cortes not-for-profit organizations. She asked that they go beyond thinking in terms of the grant and put forward proposals that are of a “bigger minded gutsy nature.” Nine Cortes organizations subsequently submitted 20 project proposals. The most ambitious, six proposals costing a total of $362,936, came from the Friends of Cortes Island Society (FOCI). This is clearly far beyond Grants in Aid and the May 12th Cortes Virtual Community meeting was devoted to a discussion of FOCI’s larger picture vision.
By the time you hear this, the Ministry of Transportation crew will have left Basil creek. As Cortes Streamkeeper Cecil Robinson observed, prior to this “if the fish came early and the rains were late, they just simply couldn’t get through the old culvert. They died right there.” Now more of them will swim upstream to their spawning grounds. Then he proceeded to describe how the “Basil Creek culvert projectwas over the top from the very beginning. Everything that needed to be done, is done: and then some more, always some more.”
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure closed a small segment of Whaletown Road on Cortes Island. The impact on the local community is minimal. However British Columbia’s threatened fish stocks greatly benefit from projects like replacing the culvert at Basil Creek.
Six to eight hundred adult Chum Salmon used to come up Hansen’s Creek. Now there are 30 in a good year and as few as 3 in poor ones. Though we were talking about Cortes Island, this is a common phenomenon along the West Coast of British Columbia. Where have all the Wild Salmon gone?