High Bar

First Nation

Big Bar Landslide Incident

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In late June, a landslide in a remote, rugged canyon along the Fraser River north of Lillooet was reported to authorities. Huge pieces of rock from a 125-metre cliff had sheered off and crashed in to the river, creating a five-metre waterfall. Based on the magnitude of the obstruction, salmon migrating upstream were impeded from naturally proceeding beyond the landslide.

A Unified Command that includes all levels of government (First Nations, provincial and federal) has come together to lead the response operations. This team is comprised of people from a vast array of backgrounds: scientists and engineers, First Nations fishing crews and archaeological monitors, field and support staff from the BC Wildfire Service, biologists, rock scalers and hydrologists, alongside many others.

Monumental efforts have been put forth to reduce the impact of the landslide on future salmon stocks. In early September, due to the efforts of rock scaling crews to manipulate rock and lower water levels at the slide site, fish achieved natural passage. Radio tag evidence and hydroacoustic monitoring have confirmed that Sockeye, Chinook and Pink salmon have all been successfully passing.

The Unified Command continues to respond to this ever-evolving situation, as water levels, fish numbers, weather, and a host of other factors fluctuate on a daily basis. The team is developing and using new technology and strategies, as well as adapting existing techniques, to meet the unique challenges of this incident.