The Pacific Salmon Foundation was founded in 1987, chartered with the mission of ‘expanding British Columbia’s salmon resource.’ Many milestones have been surpassed over the years, thanks to donors, partners and dedicated volunteers. All along the way, the Comox Valley community has been a strong partner in salmon conservation.
“Although it’s our 30th anniversary this year, it’s really the work of the communities that we are celebrating,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the foundation. “Our founders decided to empower communities by investing in local volunteer streamkeeping groups. These groups inspire whole communities to take part in salmon conservation through education and awareness activities, like festivals and restoration projects that invite public involvement. The success of this approach really speaks for itself.”
More than $53.4 million has been granted province-wide through all of the foundation’s programs to over 2,800 Pacific salmon conservation, restoration and enhancement projects during this 30-year time span. But the total value of these projects is over $183 million. Streamkeeping groups that benefit from grants via the Community Salmon Program use foundation grants to attract matching in-kind and financial contributions from the community. The Comox Valley has been a significant beneficiary of these grants. In the last 30 years, $1.4 million has been granted to Comox streamkeepers, via the Community Salmon Program, for 147 projects with a total value of $6.7 million.
The dedicated 35,000-plus volunteers it supports are what makes the foundation the success it is. But, it relies heavily on volunteers and the business community. Volunteers work tirelessly to organize gala dinners, fishing trips and derbies, and salmon festivals – all of which raise funds and awareness for salmon conservation and restoration. In our own backyard, the Tsolum River, Brooklyn Creek, Puntledge River, Oyster River, Little River Enhancement Society and other watersheds have had extensive work done over the years with salmon now returning in significant numbers.
Volunteers are also involved in the operation of hatcheries. In the last three decades, hatchery projects funded by the foundation have produced more than 40 million juvenile salmon. In the Comox area, the Puntledge and Fanny Bay hatcheries have made some impressive contributions.
“Ensuring a future for salmon means inspiring people of all ages to take an active role in the preservation of our Pacific salmon and fisheries,” said Riddell. “One important way we do that is through our community dinners. People who attend see friends and businesses supporting in any way they can, and they hopefully become inspired to also get engaged.”
In Comox, the annual Comox Valley Dinner/Dance & Auction has been bringing individuals and companies together to support salmon projects in their own watersheds. FMI: call Judy Ackinclose at 250-335-0010 or Terry Francis at 250-897-3577.