Stream flows important to more than just fish

Management of stream flows should consider more than the needs of fish and people says Kelowna biologist.

There’s much more to providing an environment for fish than just ensuring there are adequate flows in a stream at key times, warns Kelowna biologist Jason Schleppe, a principle in Ecoscape Environmental Consultants.

He was speaking to the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council about fish and environmental flows last Thursday.

The council makes recommendations on technical issues to the Okanagan Basin Water Board, which is made up of representatives from the three Okanagan regional district boards.

Schleppe admitted frankly to being a ‘fish-centric’ person who loves fish.

He pointed out that stream flows impact fish food such as algae, as well as fish themselves, in different stages of their life cycles.

“When you begin changing flows, it’s hard to image all the consequences; the webs and linkages,” he explained.

He described a river in Texas that went dry one summer. All the vegetation along the river died too, not just the fish and aquatic vegetation. That impacted a heron rookery alongside the river, because their habitat died with the mature cottonwoods in which they’d built their nests.

“It’s important to realize what could be impacted and linkages are a key part of the puzzle,” he commented.

Stream flow management should not be entirely fish-focussed, but he said it’s important to plan for both people and fish. There are lots of rare and endangered species living in the Okanagan.

For instance, he said, kokanee are a keystone species in the Okanagan. They’re the lifeblood of large lakes like Okanagan Lake, where they are the driving force for biodiversity.

“Kokanee make big rainbows and such fish are a good economic driver,” he commented.

And, local government plays an important role in what land uses are permitted adjacent to riparian areas, he noted.

“It can become costly if you need to begin purchasing land adjacent to streams,” he added.

“The biological world is complicated, but if we left it alone, it would probably be fine,” he said.

With our world in a rapid state of change, there’s far more risk to the natural world.

“We need champions to work through conflicts as part of a good planning process,” he added.

With climate change, extreme flows will begin to happen more often, he warned, and managing flows will be a challenge.

Compromise and adaptability will be important and education will be key to leaving an environment where fish can survive.

“It’s a lot more than just fish,” he explained.

In fact, it’s not about protecting particular species now, but about protecting the highest value habitat, he said.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Smoke sparks evacuation at Penticton apartments

Fire crews were called to 88 Duncan Ave just after 6:30 p.m., Tuesday

Accident backs up Glenmore

Commuters in Lake Country, between Vernon and Kelowna, advised to avoid area

Police incident ends peacefully in Glenmore

After the area was evacuated, police were able to calm a distraught 50-year-old man

UBCO students to get medical cannabis coverage

Kelowna - The pilot project will be implemented in April

Kelowna art camp held for spring break

Classes for children are available from March 19 to 29

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Smoke sparks evacuation at Penticton apartments

Fire crews were called to 88 Duncan Ave just after 6:30 p.m., Tuesday

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

Thompson, Chilcotin Steelhead Trout in danger of extinction

‘Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back’ says longtime Steelhead advocate Steve Rice.

Cattlemen urge B.C. to prevent erosion caused during 2017 wildfire season

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Skier air lifted from Cherryville

Elementary school students get a close look at emergency services in action

Patrick Brown’s Tory leadership bid fate looms

Brown’s bid to for Tory leadership to be decided on Wednesday

Most Read