Gordon River Falls Blasted

Gordon River Falls Blasted

Lake News, January 27, 1988.

A significant barrier to summer steelhead on the Gordon River has been improved to a point where the fish should be able to pass it with little difficulty.

325 kilograms of explosives were required to lower the western falls channel by 1.2 metres. This will provide more summer flow to ease steelhead passage over the long time barrier. Prior to improvement, summer steelhead were often backed up below the obstruction waiting for favorable flow conditions. They were susceptible to snaggers and suffered periodic mortality when they became trapped in a pool beneath the falls that sometimes dried. In some years, few were able to navigate the barrier.

The work guarantees access to approximately 370,000 square metres of spawning and rearing habitat in Loup Creek and the Upper Gordon for 200 – 400 steelhead according to Lake Cowichan biologist Ted Burns. The project was initiated by Ted Harding, a Victoria biologist who accomplished the work with Burns and Don Hjorth, a Kamloops engineer with specialized blasting skills. The project was funded by a Habitat Conservation Fund grant and aided by B.C. Forest Products.

“Don Hjorth has developed some very creative techniques for down cutting rock with explosives and employed them with excellent results on the project” said Harding.

BC Forest Products with advice from company biologist Dave Lindsay, provided access and some equipment. “ This is a good example of what can be accomplished when government and the private sector work together for the common good” said Lindsay.

The project may not be completely finished however. “It looks good but we can’t be totally satisfied until we see how the fish use it” said Burns. “There may be some fine tuning required. I sure hope not because just getting down and back from the canyon is a tough scramble. I hate to think about doing it again because I’m still feeling the effects of the last time”.



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