I recently visited Merville to join old friends for a walk along the Tsolum River.
What a beautiful sight it was to see many thousands of pink salmon journeying up the river to their spawning beds. The restoration of the Tsolum salmon run shows what can be done when caring people dedicate themselves to repairing environmental damage.
I lived in Merville, on the banks of the Tsolum, from 1995 to 2007. For the first several years, I never saw a fish in the river — it was a dead river, poisoned with toxic levels of copper produced by acid mine drainage from the old Mount Washington mine.
It was named as the most endangered river in B.C.
During those early years, the Tsolum River Restoration Society began building local community and government support for an effort to restore the Tsolum ecosystem. The society worked tirelessly to obtain provincial government support and funding to neutralize the acid drainage and ultimately to cap the mine tailings.
My husband and I did our small part by joining the Tsolum Streamkeepers and volunteering at the Headquarters Hatchery to help rebuild the pink salmon population. Many other volunteers worked on habitat enhancement.
Through the years Jack Minard, co-ordinator for the TRS, was the force that kept us all believing that we really could make our river healthy again.
Little by little we saw life returning to the Tsolum — I remember the thrill of seeing that first small run of pinks swimming up to spawn. This year the return is so bountiful that the hatchery program has been suspended — the river has reached its spawning capacity.
Here’s a huge thank you to Jack Minard, to the TRS board, and to all its supporters for their work in making the Valley a better, healthier place.