August 28, 2007

Steveston Cannery Row

The remains of old canneries, net lofts, shipyards and workers' accommodations along the Fraser River in Steveston are always a great place for taking photos. I love the textures of the silvery old wood, the barnacled pilings, and the rusty bits of equipment. A stroll around the gradually developing heritage site makes me wonder what life was like on the river half a century to a century ago when the salmon runs were thought to be inexhaustible. There is still an enchanting rawness to the area, and I hope the buildings that will survive the encroaching development will not be overly refurbished and prettified. It would be interesting to be able to travel back in time and tell the fishermen and cannery workers that in 2007 there would be no commercial sockeye fishery on the Fraser, and see if they could comprehend such a development... Here are several shots from an afternoon jaunt today.

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Posted by Paul at 07:17 PM

August 16, 2007

Paint Flows Into Byrne Creek

Someone was washing paint or a similar substance into a rain (storm) drain in or near our townhouse complex today, and it was flowing into Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. Yumi and I immediately called the spill in to the city, and they sent out an environmental officer from the engineering department to check it out.

Our complex is being painted in the same white colour, so while Yumi and I were waiting for the officer to arrive, we checked all the storm drains in our complex. We found one with evidence of a white substance leading into it, but it appeared to be the work of an owner, not the painting company. Since the drain pipe runs between our complex at 6700 Rumble St. and the one next door at 6670 Rumble St., we also checked the neighbouring complex, and found a patio with white wash leading down another drain.

The officer spoke with the units that appeared to have washed something down the rain drains; however, it was difficult to find a smoking gun. We'll certainly keep an eye out for any recurrence.

All drains on streets and parking lots lead directly to local creeks and are not treated!

If you see anything entering a creek in Burnaby, smell something bad near a rain drain, or see dying fish, contact the 24-hour emergency line at: 604-294-7200.

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Posted by Paul at 07:49 PM

Como Creek Wiped Out

I was saddened to hear a report from Pamela Zevit of the Como Watershed Group that the creek was hit by toxins for the second time in a month, likely wiping out any remaining fish.

I am taking the liberty of posting her initial report here, which I found on the Salmonopolis website:

Second Toxic Event In A Month Wipes Out Remaining Como Creek Fish

By Pam Zevit

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform the community that a second toxic event has now impacted the remaining fish in Como Creek. Senior environmental emergency response, fire, the City and enforcement are all on scene at the time of this e-mail to deal with the problem and initiate the investigation. I have been on scene and have been provided some preliminary information. While there is some idea as to the cause of the event, the actual source of the toxic material which entered the creek system upstream of Millside school is still being determined via investigation. While I cannot provide any comment until such time as the information is made public, I can tell you that the last pocket of salmon and trout which were upstream of where the fire runoff entered the creek in July (just one month ago) are now dead. This basically means that while some remnant numbers of fish may have survived, for the most part the fish bearing part of the creek system from Brunette Avenue to at least the Superstore area (and possibly farther downstream) are now pretty much sterilized. Most of the dead fish will be collected as there are concerns that they may be toxic to wildlife.

If you wish further information please contact the City of Coquitlam in the coming days. I will pass on any further information when I know more.

I have toured the Como Watershed with Pamela and want to express my sympathies (and outrage) at these avoidable events. It is difficult to find the words to express the heartbreak and anger that accompany a tragedy like this, after one has invested so much time and effort into preserving a slice of nature in the concrete jungle. I wish Como Creek the best, and may nature work her wonders in bringing life back to its waters.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

August 14, 2007

Byrne Creek Summer Wildlife

It never ceases to amaze me how much wildlife you can encounter in the city if you keep your eyes open. Yumi and I checked out the Byrne Creek habitat this afternoon, and I got these shots:

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A great blue heron.

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A colorful moth.

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And a homo sapiens caught chowing down on humungo blackberries!

Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

August 11, 2007

Cat Naps With Turtle

Choco the cat and Dori the turtle both cuddled up on Yumi's lap for a snooze this evening.

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Posted by Paul at 07:37 PM

Byrne Creek Bug Count, Fish Trapping

Volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in Burnaby, BC, had a busy morning, with several setting 11 traps in the creek to assess fish populations, and others completing the last set of samples for the summer bug count. Once the trappers were done, they helped the bug team count aquatic invertebrates that give us an indication of water quality.

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The lush ravine in early morning light.

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Rusty takes a break while Bob and Dave bait traps.

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Not the greatest of photos, but there's a trout hanging out in the upper right corner of the frame as the trap is lowered into the water :-).

NOTE: It is illegal to trap fish, and streamkeepers do so for ongoing research under the auspices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. All fish are released unharmed.

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The bug team hard at work counting numbers, species and taxa. Coffee, tea and cookies help the effort.

Posted by Paul at 05:48 PM

August 07, 2007

Pink Salmon Too Cheap?

Whole fresh pink salmon (head off and gutted) were on sale today at Save On Foods at Highgate Mall in Burnaby for $2.99 each. Yes, I said "each." I was struck by what seemed to be the shockingly low price -- fishermen had to burn fuel and amortize boats and equipment to catch the fish, they had to be cleaned, and then shipped a fair distance.

The one I chose weighed in at 1.1 kg (I weighed it on a kitchen scale at home because the weights were not indicated on the packaging), or about 27 cents per 100 grams, less than the occasional sale price of 29 cents per 100 grams, and much less than the common price of 39 cents or more per 100 grams.

I wonder if our society is properly valuing this resource.

Addendum: I just discovered that Save On Foods is donating 50 cents from the sale of each salmon to the CKNW Orphans? Fund. While I laud the gesture, it doesn't ameliorate my concern -- in fact it makes me really wonder how low the wholesale price of these fish is...

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

August 04, 2007

Snakes by a Creek!

A few Byrne Creek Streamkeepers went out battling invasive Policeman's Helmet in the creek this morning, and found several garter snakes soaking up the heat beneath black garbage bags in which we compost evil plants on site.

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Streamkeeper Maho inspects a garter snake.

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My wife Yumi checks out another one.

We handled them gently and released them unharmed.

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A close-up of one of the harmless beauties.

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A grasshopper posed for a portrait.

Posted by Paul at 06:00 PM

August 02, 2007

I'm baaack!

I'm back in action after a 10-day vacation visiting relatives in Saskatchewan. I took my notebook computer with me, but cracked it open just twice to download photos from my digital camera. I'm still wading through email messages, but it was great not logging onto the 'Net for over a week. Sometimes you just need to completely get away from it all. I'll be posting photos and commentary about our trip over the next few days, backdating the posts to "real time."

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

August 01, 2007

Driving Home From Jasper

We drove home from Jasper today, and got a some nice shots of elk and Mt. Robson along the way.

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An elk with a magnificent rack calmly browsing beside the highway.

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Me in front of Mt. Robson on an unusually clear day.

Posted by Paul at 06:23 PM