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“15 Years of Restoring Salmon Habitat in the q̓awsitkʷ (Okanagan River)” Workshop Showcases Restoration Through Collaboration

October 3rd, 2017

snpintktn (Penticton), BC Syilx Territory: On October 3-4, 2017, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) will host a “15 Years of Restoring Salmon Habitat in the q̓awsitkʷ (Okanagan River)” workshop at the En’owkin Centre in snpintktn, BC. Participants to include government representatives from the Department of Fisheries & Oceans(DFO) and the Ministry of Forest, Land and Natural Resource Operations(MoFLNR), Indigenous organizations including the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, NGOs and environmental and engineering consultants from across BC and Washington state.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation is a leader in the restoration of salmon to the Okanagan region.  Over the last 15 years the ONA, in collaboration with a multitude of project partners, have worked persistently to restore spawning and rearing habitat for Columbia River sockeye salmon on the Okanagan River. In order to be successful the ONA has engaged a wide range of practices including Traditional Ecological Knowledge, best management practices, measured stream geometry and the natural habitat features, which have all guided the restoration work. Participants will be provided the opportunity to learn about what enabled for a successful restoration of salmon habitat and how to apply lessons learned.

Key successful actions and initiatives include:

  • Riffle creation & gate refitting to provide fish passage at flood control dam (McIntyre Dam)
  • River meanders reconnection, historic floodplain re-engagement & habitat features addition (ORRI – Phase I)
  • Side channel restoration (ORRI – Phase II)
  • Riffle backwatering a drop structure (VDS 12)
  • Spawning beds creation in Penticton Channel

The workshop will discuss the stream analysis and hydraulics that directed the restoration designs and describe the planning, construction, monitoring methods and successful results. Presentations and discussions will include:

  • History and biology of the Okanagan Sockeye and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK);
  • Overview and site visit of habitat restoration projects in the q̓awsitk(Okanagan River);
  • Project approach, process, modelling & designs, construction works and adaptive management;
  • Stream analysis, hydraulics and riffle design;
  • Project monitoring methods and results;
  • Posters and discussion sessions: hydraulic modelling, habitat diversity, nature-like features, spawning beds, riffles, fish passage at barriers, wetland restoration, Stream Restoration Hydraulics manual examples.

About fish passage in the Columbia: In the 1930’s the Okanagan River was deeply impacted by channelization, in an attempt to divert waters to prevent flooding and support industrial agriculture. This was followed in the 1960s by the Columbia River Treaty, which led to the creation of industrial reservoirs and the building hydro-electric development, making it impossible for fish passage, while deeply impacting Syilx cultural and food systems. Years of hard work, direct action and political advocacy, particularly in the two decades, have seen the ONA working with provincial, federal and US Tribes & transboundary entities and local and regional agencies to restore ecosystems on the Okanagan River, and rebuild this sockeye run from 3000 to 500,000 sockeye salmon returning annually. TheSyilx Okanagan Nation remain vigilant in their dedication to restore all salmon species back to their territory.

For further info contact: Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager / 1.250.718.5215 /