Temporary closures anticipated during salmon restoration effort

This section of the Okanagan river channel and trail from the Highway 97 bridge at the north entrance to Penticton, south to the Penticton Golf and Country Club bridge will be closed for a period in September and October, 2015.

PENTICTON - A salmon restoration project will impact road, trail and channel users this fall, as the Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries Department moves ahead with plans to restore salmon habitat in the Okanagan River channel beginning in September.

Biologist Natasha Lukey told the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Board of Directors about plans to build a salmon spawning bed in the channel just south of the Highway 97 bridge at the city’s north end. 

This year’s work is a continuation of the plans to restore the channel as sockeye spawning habitat and builds on a project begun last year, which saw the alliance construct two spawning beds north of the bridge.

Channelization of the Okanagan River greatly diminished spawning habitat for the salmon and with fish passage now restored at the dam south of Skaha Lake, salmon can access the channel, Lukey says.

The beds are engineered not to be an impediment to channel floaters stepping on the riverbed, many of whom access the waterway in the vicinity of the first two beds, he says. Channel users will not interfere with salmon spawning, because the two activities occur at different times of the year.

Lukey describes this year’s work as a 7,500 square metre, continuous platform with sections of boulders and spawning gravel for both Chinook and sockeye salmon on a gradient gravel bed. The project is expected to improve the health of the waterway while increasing viewing opportunities for salmon spawning,

The work will result in the river channel being closed to floaters from Sept. 9 to Sept. 25, from the Coyote Cruises launch area to the Penticton Golf and Country Club’s pedestrian bridge. The hike and bike trail along the channel will also be off limits between Sept. 2 to Oct. 15 from the golf course bridge to the highway bridge.

Additionally, the right southbound lane of Riverside Drive from Burnaby Avenue to the east side of the Highway 97 bridge will be closed to traffic Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, and again from Sept. 25 to Oct. 15, with temporary stops to allow trucks in and out of the site, Lukey says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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