Closed sockeye fisheries

Glenda Newsted is surprised when she doesn't see many salmon drying racks near Lillooet.

Credit: uli harder

Leon Creek to Lillooet, August 21-22

At the beginning of the trip, Doug (a facilitator) told the participants that the 25 day trip will be like a bath tub full of water – it starts off draining slowly and then suddenly before you know it the tub is empty and you find yourself emptying your dry bag and heading home. For me, the trip starts to feel like this after we leave the Cathedrals. I think part of it is the geography of the river… for the last two days it seems as though we’ve been on an enormous waterslide. You can actually see the river slanting as it descends downstream, and the water seems to be flowing faster along with the trip – and suddenly it is Day 17 and we’re rounding the bend to Bridge River Rapids, just north of Lillooet.


As we near Lillooet, I’m anxiously awaiting the sight of the orange and blue tarped hillsides where the St’atl’imx have their drying racks full of salmon drying in the hot, dry winds. Something is different though as we land north of the rapids… the sage filled hillsides are spotting only a few tarped drying racks and I can’t seem to see anyone dip netting for salmon on the fishing rocks. As we walk past the rapids (the Bridge River Rapids are a Class 6 rapids and the rafting guides are not legally allowed to transport passengers over these rapids), we learn that the sockeye fisheries had just closed due to the enormous drop in returns. The reality of the news in Prince George quickly hits home as the missing salmon are no longer just numbers – they are now the faces of friends and communities who rely on the salmon for food.