How Thinking like a Fish Helped Build the Heart Creek Bridge

If you want to attract fish, you need to think like a fish (or so the old adage goes). Until recently, any fish swimming up Heart Creek under BC Highway 6 in Fauquier might have been thinking that the world was conspiring against them. That’s because the culvert carrying Heart Creek under the highway had been badly undercut from scouring during freshet runoff in recent years, making spawning upstream of it almost impossible.

Culvert

Heart Creek Culvert under Highway 6 in September 2014.

Fear not little fishes! That pesky perched culvert has been replaced with an 18 metre long, clear span bridge which means approximately 250 metres of additional stream habitat for spawning.

Since the removal of the barrier culvert and installation of the new bridge, we can happily confirm that fish have successfully been able to spawn upstream of Highway 6 for the first time in more than 35 years!

How’s that for thinking like a fish?

These improvements were funded by the ministry, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program, along with generous support from the Nakusp Rod and Gun Club to enhance the local fishery in Heart Creek and Arrow Lake and fall in line with our environmental stewardship goals outlined in BC on the Move.

First Kokanee

First Kokanee in over 35 years to swim in Heart Creek above Highway 6

This restoration project is phase one of two on Heart Creek. Phase Two, which we hope to see happen in 2016 or 2017, will remove another barrier further upstream on Heart Creek. Planning is in the early stages now, but once the next barrier is replaced with a bridge, fish will be able to swim unimpeded up to approximately 1 kilometre further upstream, until they encounter a natural barrier. Once this second phase is completed, spawning area for the stream’s Kokanee, Bull Trout and Rainbow Trout will be doubled. That’s something we think fish will think highly of, don’t you? Do you have any questions about this or any other the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is involved in? Let us know in the comments below.

The new Heart Creek Bridge – lots of room to move!

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