For nearly 80 years, anadromous salmon coming home to the Shuswap River have been blocked by the Wilsey Dam from accessing over 30-km of pristine habitat located above the dam to Sugar Lake. Passage at this Dam would address long-term fish passage issues which were a direct result of the Dam’s construction in 1929. BC Hydro currently owns and operates the dam.
Historically, this was an important spiritual and cultural site for the Okanagan Nation people, families would gather and work together to fish for Chinook, Coho, sockeye salmon and rainbow trout from the river at the Shuswap Falls. The Chinook fishery was a major food source for the Okanagan people and today, the salmon stocks have declined and there is only a limited fishery for Chinook salmon in the area. “This is one of the last remaining salmon fishing stations in Okanagan Territory, and we want to see the salmon and the habitats restored so we can enjoy healthy fishery once again,” said Grand Chief Phillip.
In 2011 a formal Wilsey Dam Fish Passage Committee formed. Collaborative effort between many stakeholders including ONA, OKIB, Shuswap Nation, Splatsin Band, DFO, MFLNRO, BC Hydro, municipalities, regional districts and concerned citizens
To achieve fish passage at the dam site to restore anadromous access for Chinook, Coho and Sockeye into the upper reaches of the Shuswap River.
Future Plans for Wilsey Dam
- Current stumbling block is juvenile fish entrainment within the turbines during outmigration
- Seeking funding to implement an entrainment study to allow process to move forward
- In the meantime, will continue to meet monthly with committee, do a soft hatchery this fall, write proposals to complete studies of the fry survival from the soft hatchery and meet with DFO on the fish passage issue.
Photos of the May 11, 2012 Chinook Release and Ceremony
For More Information Contact:
Howie Wright, Fisheries Program Manager