Although the weather was quite cold and a bit foggy, 15 members of VFFN turned out in Oliver to hear local environmentalist Lee McFayden speak about the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative. The talk was given on the banks of the Okanagan River where we observed the spawning salmon as we listened.
The Okanagan River is one of only 3 rivers (the others being, the Wenatchee & the Snake) in the Columbia River system where Sockeye salmon still return to spawn. The run was near extinction by the 1990’s due to flood control programs and 9 hydro electric dams built on the Columbia River. In 1998 Lee McFayden became part of a multi disciplinary group comprised of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, provincial and federal agencies that all came together to form the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative. Their goal was to restore a portion of the Okanagan River in Oliver to its original configuration and thus create spawning beds for the returning Sockeye.
This project is ongoing and has been a greater success then was ever envisioned. The time and effortand just hard work by everyone involved was staggering to hear about. Lee told us that the group initially hoped for the return of about 1,200 Sockeye and have had a return of 50,000!
This is a wonderful project to visit and a very easy walk with a great information kiosk.