Creek contamination affecting salmon returns

Contamination in Casey Creek is stunting salmon returns near Campbell River

Contamination in Casey Creek is stunting salmon returns.

A round-up of 2013 streamkeeper projects revealed the news to city council at its Tuesday meeting.

Chuck DeSorcy of the Willow Creek Watershed Society presented last year’s fish fence enumerations for four urban creeks; the numbers from Casey Creek stood out.

“It’s disturbing to see that we had zero returns on Casey Creek,” Coun. Larry Samson said. “Is there a problem or what can we do to enhance salmon returns on Casey Creek?”

DeSorcy said the issue appears to be water quality.

“We’ll be doing water sampling of Casey Creek in two or three different locations to try and see if we can locate the source of that contamination,” DeSorcy said. “Until we can do that, we’ve pulled ourselves back and are no longer putting any effort into Casey Creek as far as enhancement goes.”

While there were zeroes across the board for the fall count at Casey Creek, there were returns during the springtime count.

Casey Creek reported 203 total coho smolts, with seven of those from the hatchery. There were 86 pink fry and 74 cutthroat trout but zero chum fry. Simms Creek reported 5,541 total coho smolts last spring and Woods Creek had 3,160 coho smolts return.

Stonefly Creek had two chum fry while Simms Creek reported 19.

During the fall fence count, Simms, Woods, and Casey creeks combined for 391 coho adults, one pink adult and 17 chum adults.

A total of 10 streamkeeper groups put in 1,000 volunteer hours last year, monitoring and rehabilitating fish returns.

Projects included: completing in-stream rehabilitation work on Stonefly and Mayfly Creek; upgrading streamkeepers’ equipment; improving mapping capacity; and stocking local streams with marked fry.