The heavy equipment won’t be digging into the Vedder River this summer after all.
Gravel applications have been withdrawn by the Vedder River Management Area Committee (VRMAC) led by City of Chilliwack.
After further consideration, without consensus and support for the 2020 removals, the approval applications were withdrawn, confirmed David Blain, VRMAC chair, from City of Chilliwack.
The part of the river in question is the two-kilometre stretch from the Vedder bridge to the Vedder Canal at Keith Wilson.
The Vedder River, one of the most important salmon-bearing streams in B.C. has been “mined” for gravel every two years for at least two decades “under the guise of flood protection,” said Dr. Marvin Rosenau, a retired provincial fisheries biologist.
Extractions in 2016 were “excessive” and were undertaken in a way that compromised the ecological integrity of the river and destroyed fish habitat, Rosenau said.
“I am just delighted. The river needs a break,” said Rosenau, said upon hearing the news there will be no gravel extraction in 2020.
“The Vedder had been over-extracted for a long time now. Every time adds up.”
He said he conducted a review of the proposal to remove sand and gravel from the the Vedder River management area floodway in 2020. He found here wasn’t enough deposited sediment material in the two-kilometre stretch of the river, and levels had dropped due to erosion.
The Fraser River Salmon Society (FVSS) executive was also against this summer’s gravel removal proposals. They fired off a letter to federal and provincial authorities, asking them not to issue the permits this summer due to possible environmental and fish habitat damage.
VRMAC, the river area management committee, comprising reps from City of Chilliwack, City of Abbotsford, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has reviewed and managed gravel removals for the past several decades.
The applications are submitted every two years since 1997, to avoid pink salmon run timing, and the next time gravel removal will be considered is in 2022.
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