Recent items in The Record suggest the dredging and booming of logs caused significant loss of salmon in the Courtenay River. The facts indicate otherwise.
The last dredging was in 1945 and there was no observable effect on the numbers of trout and migrant salmon in the river after the dredging.
It should be noted that salty water (brine) reaches upstream at least to 13th Street during high tides, which eliminates most of the Courtenay River as a salmon spawning area.
Dead salmon did wash down from the Puntledge and Tsolum rivers after spawning. There is a good case to be made that booming of logs is beneficial to fish, and not harmful.
Any explanation for the loss of salmon runs in the Courtenay River must also account for the contemporaneous loss of herring, bottom fish, and sea birds in Comox Bay. This happened in the mid-1960s. Three obvious reasons are:
First and foremost was the introduction of agricultural chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, including fungicides, into the Comox Valley and subsequent run-off into the drainage systems and eventual arrival in Comox Bay.
Second was the arrival of seals and sea lions into local waters, also in the mid-1960s. There are now hundreds of these animals.
A third reason is interference with water volume flows in both Tsolum and Puntledge rivers as well as the smaller tributary streams.
The net effect is that the little bugs and buds at the base of the fish and marine life food chain are in distress.
Until such time as we take a unified stand towards mitigating all of these points there cannot be much hope for a return to the previous high levels of trout and migrating salmon in the Courtenay River and, similarly, for bottom fish and sea birds in Comox Bay.