KINGFISHER - Good things are hatching at the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre.
The salmon hatchery and educational centre located 25 kilometers east of Enderby was hit hard by a massive flood and debris flow in May. The deluge brought logs, mud and silt surging into the centre’s buildings and trails, damaging the hatchery and causing the loss of thousands of Chinook salmon fry. But things are looking up.
“We’re feeling really positive and optimistic,” director Barb DuTot says.
Community members pitched in over the summer, giving time and money to aid in restoration efforts. An estimated 200 people volunteered at work bees to help clean up the mess and repair the damage over the last few months.
“Of course, we’d prefer the disaster hadn’t happened, but there have been some good things as a result. The community has pulled together for us,” DuTot says.
Following the flood, the centre was issued a six month temporary occupancy permit which allowed it to reopen to the public. Things weren’t perfect, but it was a piece of good news.
Damages were estimated in the hundreds of thousands. The biggest priority for staff was to get water lines reestablished, and to repair the centre’s protective berm, which was destroyed in the flood. They’ll need that fixed by next spring’s freshet — when the risk is highest of a repeat flood — in order to get full occupancy status.
“If we don’t have full occupancy, we likely couldn’t run field trips next spring,” DuTot says.
But the centre is optimistic that won’t happen. A community driven fundraiser featuring a salmon barbecue, live auction and entertainment is set for Sept. 27 to raise funds for the repairs. For the centre, it’s a heartfelt reminder of the wonderful community it calls home. The centre even got a helping hand from around 250 girl guides.
“They helped restore trails, dug out the kekuli hut. Having those kids here with their laughter and smiles and positive energy — that’s when things really started to move forward,” DuTot says.
The interpretive centre was founded three decades ago by the community in response to the near extinction of salmon stocks in the Shuswap River.
“We have a history of community involvement, we really pride ourselves on that,” DuTot says.
The centre is well-used and well-loved not only by the Kingfisher community, but by residents in surrounding towns and cities including Ashton Creek, Enderby, Armstrong and Vernon, not to mention farther afield by out-of-province visitors. Many youngsters have explored the centre on treasured school field trips over the years, and while last May and June’s excursions were cancelled, activities recently returned to a sense of normal. The centre was overjoyed to host a group of kids from the Vernon Recreation Centre in early September, marking the first field trip since the debris flood.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the salmon dinner, visit the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre website. Seats are limited and tickets going fast for the Sept. 27 event, being held at the Riverside Community Hall.
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