The East Toe is a outcropping of rock in the Fraser River at the Big Bar Landslide site, northwest of Kamloops that has to be removed to restore fish passage. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The East Toe is a outcropping of rock in the Fraser River at the Big Bar Landslide site, northwest of Kamloops that has to be removed to restore fish passage. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Long-awaited blasting advances efforts to clear Big Bar blockage

Pressure has been on senior governments working with First Nations to remove rock at slide site

The Big Bar Landslide site on the Fraser River saw rock blasting Tuesday to remove a large chunk of the obstruction.

Pressure has been on the federal and provincial governments for months who’ve been working collaboratively with First Nations to get the blockage removed.

“This week, Peter Kiewit & Sons successfully carried out a planned blast at the East Toe,” DFO stated in a Feb. 21 news release. “Kiewit also made solid progress on the construction of an overland road for heavy equipment, and on the installation of a highline to facilitate site access and on rock fall prevention.”

The East Toe blast, which took place on February 18, took out a large portion of bedrock extending into the river at the site of the slide.

“The result is a widened channel and more flow directed toward the east river bank.”

Sto:lo fisherman Ken Malloway, who’s been involved as a member of the First Nations panel at Big Bar thinks it was a “good move” to finally get the blasting done by a “top notch” U.S.-based company.

“We’ve been pushing them to move as much of the debris as they can. Some rocks are as big as a house,” Malloway said. “Now that they took that East Toe out it should help with the fish passage, but there is still lots of work left to be done.”

READ MORE: FN reps want obstruction cleared

The massive slide, which was discovered last June, severely restricted fisheries and impacted communities reliant on fish. That triggered a joint effort in July by governments and First Nations, and an Incident Command Post was established at Kamloops.

DFO said acoustic monitoring downstream from the slide did not detect any fish in the area before the blast and no fish mortality was detected after.

“Drilling on the East Toe will now resume in preparation for a second blast in early March, depending on the weather.”

Malloway who also sits on the Fraser River Panel of the Pacific Salmon Commission, said the consensus this week was that “DFO was doing as much as they possibly can on this” with the limited amount of time in the work window.

The Hell’s Gate slide took 40 or 50 years to get fixed, and another slide on the Bulkley River also took years.

“So we’re moving at lightening speed now compared to those efforts in the past,” Malloway said.

There is also talk about putting in a temporary fish way, to help more fish get past the blockage, which Malloway said he supported.

READ MORE: Work intensifies to free salmon at Big Bar


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

DFOFirst NationsFishlandslide

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LEFT: Krista Macinnis, with a red handprint across her face that symbolizes the silencing of First Nations people, displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
RIGHT: Abbotsford School District Kevin Godden says the district takes responsibility for the harm the assignment caused.
Abbotsford school district must make amends for harmful residential school assignment: superintendent

‘The first step is to unreservedly apologize for the harm … caused to our community’: Kevin Godden

Chilliwack School District school bus outside Sardis elementary on June 11, 2014. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
COVID-19 exposures on three school buses in Chilliwack

Exposure dates range from Nov. 13 to 19, according to letters sent out by Fraser Health

File photo
Outdoor recreation generates close to $1 billion annually in Fraser Valley: report

Camping, hiking and sportfishing generate the most spending, report finds

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

The Santa Photos event will not continue at Highstreet Shopping Centre after Fraser Health asked organizers to suspend the event after new restrictions. (Highstreet photo)
Santa Photos at Abbotsford’s Highstreet Shopping Centre event suspended

Fraser Health Authority asked Highstreet to suspend event following new restrictions

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

Elissa McLaren broke her left elbow in the Sept. 20, 2020 collision. (Submitted)
Surviving victims of fatal crash in Fraser Valley asking for help leading up to Christmas

‘This accident has taken a larger toll financially, mentally and physically than originally intended’

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld (left) and former BCTF president Glen Hansman (right).
BC Court of Appeal left to walk tightrope of freedom of expression in Neufeld-Hansman case

Is defamation lawsuit aimed at stifling free expression or does the defamation hinder free speech?

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read