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Sturgeon habitat restoration project underway near Arrow Lakes Generating Station

The project aims to enhance spawning area on the Columbia River
Senior environmental coordinator James Crossman releases a hatchery-origin juvenile white sturgeon into the Columbia River. Photo: BC Hydro

BC Hydro and several partners have begun habitat restoration work near the Hugh Keenleyside Dam and Arrow Lakes Generating Station in order to improve the chances of survival for larval white sturgeon.

A working group comprised of BC Hydro, Columbia Power, Ministry of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship, Okanagan Nation Alliance, and Ktunaxa Nation Council have recommended placing a specific mix of rocks and gravel at the site in order to improve conditions for incubating eggs and larvae by helping them hide from predators during this critical life stage.

The project aims to enhance the spawning substrate for the endangered white sturgeon in the spawning area in the tailrace (outlet channel) of the Arrow Lakes Generating Station.

BC Hydro has been conducting a wide range of monitoring studies across the Canadian portion of the Columbia River in order to learn more about the endangered white sturgeon population.

According to BC Hydro, while the specific cause of white sturgeon population decline is still being investigated, improving substrate conditions at spawning sites where dam construction and river regulation have had an impact has been identified as a positive initiative to give eggs and larvae the best chance of survival.

BC Hydro says this work builds on the success of a 2011 experiment at the Revelstoke spawning location that demonstrated biological benefit for larval white sturgeon, as well as research carried out by the province on other populations experiencing decline.

The project is slated to begin in September. Boaters and anglers are asked to avoid the area while work is underway. The public access area will remain open, but users are encouraged to make safety a priority and stay away from the areas that are fenced off.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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