(Editor's note: This post was submitted by guest blogger Jay White, a biologist, environmental consultant and an OWC fan. He wants to know if our calendars are free for the back country September long weekend!)
One of my favourite fishing rivers in Alberta is the Crowsnest River. None of its length is safe from me and I’ve enjoyed the headwaters, the wild sections along the Frank Slide, up and downstream of the falls and where it empties into the Oldman Dam.
Last weekend I was fishing the bottom end between Highway #3 and 510 and I noticed a long stretch that is slumping with very large chunks of bank falling into the river. Bank stability is low, and there is all sort of water quality problems that this will cause downstream will all that sediment being transported into the water.
The area previously had unrestricted cattle access, but in the past few years I noticed it has been fenced. However, the riparian vegetation along the south shores has been completed removed. Now, large slabs of field are being held together by nothing. Some of the fenceposts are now also falling down due to the erosion. Traversing along the south shore is almost impossible now, and the banks are being undercut during higher flows. Previous fish mitigation structures have disappeared, as the stream channel has shifted.
I’m kicking myself for not packing my camera that afternoon.
Photo credit: Vic Bergman/ Crowsnest Angler
Until the riparian areas are repaired along this stretch of river, degradation will continue, and water quality and fish habitat will be degraded.
This is a call to arms—OWC, TUC, AESRD, Cows & Fish and Aquality can provide the leadership on what needs to be done and we can leverage volunteer hours to roll up their sleeves and get this fixed.
By the way, in one small stretch upstream of this spot, I caught a cutthroat trout, several rainbow trout, a bull trout and a whitefish in a couple of hours. This is a special river that requires our special attention.
I propose we organize a volunteer riparian planting session for the September long weekend (yes, the labour day weekend!) for 2 or 3 days.
(Editor's P.S. > CALL JAY at the numbers below if you can make it!!!
If we have a critical mass of people, we can pull this off and coordinate details.)
Jay S. White, M.Sc., P.Biol., QWAES, QAES
Suite #204, 7205 Roper Road
Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3J4