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'Solutions for Steelhead' on the Gold River, initiative officially launched.

Steelhead are at-risk in the iconic Gold River on Vancouver Island’s west coast; a river know for over a century as a premier steelhead river. Historic numbers of steelhead in the Gold may have been as many as 5,000. Scientific survey counts within the last decade have put numbers in the hundreds. More recently though these numbers have fallen to ‘tens’ or ‘ones’ on winter runs. Data from this year's survey are pending.

Steelhead in the Gold River September 9, 2020.

Photo credit Fernanado Lessa

To address the Gold River steelhead declines a task force was convened last month, a project to document the remaining steelhead in the Gold took place last week, and yesterday NSWS submitted an application to the BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund (BCSRIF) aimed at saving wild Gold River steelhead stocks. It will take a collaborative effort to rebuild steelhead on the Gold. The BCSRIF application focuses on habitat improvements in the Muchalat Lake Watershed. The task force will seek habitat protection through land designation (FRPA Fisheries Sensitive Watershed). The Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation propose a Salmon Park for the Muchalat Lake area. Steelhead and Pacific salmon over lap in areas of the Gold River, actions taken to help rebuild steelhead also benefit Sockeye, Chinook and Coho in the Gold River system.

Snorkel survey crew: biologists swim and count the number of steelhead in the Gold River September 8, 2020.

Photo credit Fernanado Lessa

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