After a month of hard work, the Koeye River fish weir is in the water, and as of Thursday when I headed back into Bella Bella for the weekend we had caught and tagged five beautiful sockeye and one unexpected unspawned female steelhead. At the moment the weir is being manned by our friends and collaborators from the Hakai Institute, Grant Callegari and Jamie Cowan, and Qqs’ Jessel Housty. We are continuing work on a viewing platform that will allow us to sleep and eat safely 12 feet above the forest floor.
Last week, with the weir built and fishing we hosted a field trip of 15 excited 4th graders from the Bella Bella Community School. A core part of Qqs’ mandate and mission is youth engagement in Heiltsuk culture and environmental stewardship and since the inception of the weir project, finding opportunities for youth engagement and education has been a central focus. Working with our friend and colleague Johanna Gordon-Walker, we have thus far hosted two groups from the school and we will be working with interns from the Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) program at the weir this summer. By all accounts the field trip was a fantastic success. We shuttled students upriver to the trail head at Koeye on the high tide. The visit was made all the more special by what we found in the trapbox upon our arrival; a beautiful unspawned female steelhead, full of eggs and destined to spawn in the waters of the lower Koeye River in the coming days. None of the students had ever seen a steelhead and they were giddy with excitement at the sight see the large, beautiful fish.
I am headed back down to the weir on Monday and wont return to Bella Bella until the end of my season here July 5th. Stay tuned to the Qqs blog for more updates as the summer continues.
Here are some pictures from the weir build:
Tripods half way across the lower Koeye
Pete Taylor of the Hakai Institute stokes the cookfire
Tripods spanning the Koeye
The Koeye River weir, finished.
Our working platform and trap box, looking back towards the platform and our camp