It was during a conversation with Michael Crowe, a Habitat Biologist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that the notion of using a piece of the riverside on Habitat Farm for a smolt imprinting pond arose. This was in 1998. Mr. Crowe had mentioned his department was interested in finding a suitable site on the Salmon River to help the dwindling Chinook and Coho salmon stocks.
Just downstream of our bridge was a healthy riparian strip, grown thick with mature cottonwood and undergrowth. We believed that not only would it add to the "Habitat" theme of our farm, it would be a worthwhile use of part of our property. It was a contribution we felt we would like to make to the cause, and offered this piece of old river bottom.
After conducting the essential habitat impact studies, DFO determined it to be an ideal location and construction started in March 1999. Construction in this 180 by 60 meter complex has included the digging of a side channel somewhat parallel with the river, with a settling pond at the upstream end. Between the side channel and the river are two smolt ponds. The complex is fed river water through a buried 16" pvc pipeline, and is supplemented by our Buchanan Creek spring. The smolt ponds are connected to this complex with larger buried pipes. The open side channel reconnects with the Salmon River below the complex and is intended to provide side channel habitat for wild stream fish through the year. When completed, these ponds will become home to hatchery raised Chinook and Coho smolts, the offspring of fish that were previously trapped and milked of their eggs on the Salmon River. The ponds will be home to up to 80,000 smolts, which will be fed and cared for over the six or eight weeks it takes them to develop their "homing instincts" before being released. With luck, some of these fish will return in a few years to spawn naturally in the river, and renew the cycle.
Click on the Photo Index button below for a thumbnail index of photos and a map which will further explain this project. I hope you will bookmark this these pages and check back often as we update the information with text and photos as this project develops.