Watershed Watch signs on with more than 50 organizations to say ‘Keep the Kokish River wild’
Diverse group opposing proposed hydro project includes NHL players, fishing clubs and outdoor recreation businesses.
VANCOUVER – In a diverse but united show of support, more than 50 British Columbia wilderness tourism businesses, fishing and outdoor recreation groups, rivers advocates and prominent individuals are calling on the federal government to turn down a hydropower project proposed for the Kokish River.
The Kokish River, located 15 km east of Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island, is threatened by a proposed 45 megawatt hydropower project. The river is renowned for its high fish values including an endangered summer- and winter-run of steelhead.
“The Kokish River is an excellent example of where not to put a Run of the River project,” said Perry Wilson, President of the BC Federation of Fly Fishers. “That’s why we are seeing such a broad-based outcry to protect this river.”
Kwagis Power, owned by Brookfield Renewable Power and the Namgis First Nation, has applied to dam and divert the 11 km river into a 9 km pipe. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) considers the Kokish to be a high-value river with a sensitive fish population.
“This river is home to a rare population of summer-run wild steelhead,” said Mark Angelo, Order of Canada recipient and renowned rivers advocate. “It is just far too risky to build a hydro project in a wild river that is home to such a diversity of fish species.” The Kokish is important habitat for five species of wild salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, as well as steelhead.
The BC government signed off on the project in December 2011, however Kwagis Power still requires approval from the DFO to proceed. A decision from DFO is expected imminently. “We are calling on the federal government who oversee DFO to do the right thing and keep the Kokish wild,” said Brian Braidwood, President of the Steelhead Society of BC. “We just can’t afford to lose this river.”
Over 70 per cent of independent power projects in BC are found in water bodies with known or suspected fish populations according to a report about to be released by Watershed Watch Salmon Society. Impacts from such projects include severely decreased water flows and problems with plant malfunctions and rapid changes in water levels all of which negatively impact river health and fish populations.
“The Kokish River is one of the last places you should put a hydropower project and that is why hockey players, lodge owners, fishing groups and wilderness tourism operators are standing up for this river,” said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director with the Wilderness Committee. “Steelhead and wild salmon streams are hurting in BC and we need to protect those we have left.”
For more information please contact:
Perry Wilson, President of the BC Federation of Fly Fishers, 250-956-2879
Brian Braidwood, President of the Steelhead Society of BC, 604-626-7085
Gwen Barlee, Policy Director, with the Wilderness Committee, 604-683-8220 (w) or 604-202-0322 (c)
Mark Angelo, Recipient of the Order of Canada and renowned rivers advocate, 604-432-8750
Keep the Kokish Wild Organizations and Individuals:
- Angler Works Guiding
- Babcock Custom Rods
- BC Federation of Fly Fishers
- Bluewater Rockies Sportfish Guiding Co.
- Brendan Morrison, NHL player, Chicago Blackhawks
- Bruce Langereis, Chariman, Delta Land Development Ltd.
- Campbell River Guides Association
- Campbell River Whale Watching and Grizzly Bear Tours
- Clayoquot Ventures – Tofino Fishing
- Clipper Canoes
- Discovery Islands Lodge
- Dr. Marvin Rosenau
- Dr. Villy Christensen, Fisheries Centre, UBC
- Father Charles Brandt
- Fly Fishing Fantasy
- Fly Gal Ventures
- Fraser River Fishing Adventures
- Friends of Bute Inlet
- Haig Brown Institute
- Hatch Match r Fly and Tackle
- Hurricane Jack Adventures
- Inlet Seafoods
- Ken Bowden, President, Hotel Georgia Development Ltd
- Kingfishers Rod and Gun Club
- Krazy Kanuck Guide Service
- Leisure Suit Charters
- Lower Dean River Lodge
- Mark Angelo, Order of Canada
- North Coast Steelhead Alliance
- Northern Rivers Conservation Trust
- Osprey Flyfishers of BC
- Outdoor Recreation Council
- Pacific Angler
- Pitt River Lodge
- Proline Sports
- Rafe Mair
- Riseform Flyfishing Ventures
- Sea-Run Fly and Tackle
- Steelhead Society of BC
- Steelhead Valhalla Lodge
- Streamline Guiding
- Suskeena Lodge
- The Lodge at Gold River
- Totem Fly Fishers
- Upstream Adventure
- Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society
- Vicky Husband, Order of Canada and Order of BC
- Watershed Watch Salmon Society
- Westcoast Flyfishers Association
- Western Canoeing and Kayaking
- Whistler Fly Fishing
- Wild River Angling
- Wilderness Committee
- Willie Mitchell, NHL player, Los Angeles Kings
Photo Courtesy of the Wilderness Committee.