A Baker Creek tour from 2019 with a group of students. Tours will be much smaller in 2020 due to COVID-19 prevention measures. (Submitted photo)

Quesnel’s Rivers Day celebrations scale back due to COVID-19

The Baker Creek Enhancement Society will be hosting guided tours to small groups throughout fall

Rivers Day celebrations at the Baker Creek Enhancement Society will look different in 2020. A global pandemic will throw a wrench into the best-laid plans.

Instead of hosting an event on Rivers Day (Sept. 27), the society will be holding tours for small groups of people, alongside social media videos promoting the day.

Amanda Vibert works at the Nature Education and Resource Centre at the West Fraser Timber Park, and she is helping organize the events.

“We’ll talk about the importance of fresh water and rivers and creeks, and we’ll look at different habitat features,” she said. “We might see a chinook [salmon] travelling up the creek to spawn in the upper parts of Baker Creek, although they usually travel at night, so that’s not a guarantee.”

A landslide at Big Bar Lake in 2019 has sent salmon numbers in the Fraser River system plummeting. A record low of sockeye salmon passed through the Fraser River in 2020.

“Chinook numbers have been low historically, and now with Big Bar, they’ve been even more low,” Vibert said.

READ MORE: Record-low returns continue for Fraser sockeye despite success of Big Bar passage

Tours will be available from Sept. 20 to Oct. 3. Vibert said ideally there wouldn’t be groups bigger than six, and all should be close contacts of one another.

Baker Creek is home to pink salmon spawning, but only in odd-numbered years.

B.C. Rivers Day is celebrated around the province during the fourth Sunday of September.

“It’s a day to generate awareness around the importance of water, and fresh water,” said Vibert. “People in our area like to enjoy being around water, so it’s kind of a celebration of that. From our perspective with Baker Creek, we’re really into salmon education and awareness.”

READ MORE: ‘This is a catastrophic situation’: First Nations leaders close salmon fishery in Tsilhqot’in

The B.C. celebrations are only one part of a worldwide movement.

“World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways,” the World Rivers Day website reads. “It highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.”

The nature centre is closed for aquarium renovations. Vibert says when it does re-open, it will be only by appointment to keep occupancy down.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


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