Think like a fish to save our river from disaster

If you think like a worried fish, the answer is obvious to our dry river: raise the Cowichan Lake weir a minimum of 18 inches in early spring, and ban fishing most of the year.

But years of local stakeholders pleading with provincial and federal governments have prevented moves to store plenty of water behind the weir for use during summer droughts — such as the one our heritage salmon river is suffering now.

We advise Cowichan stakeholders to ignore deaf governments and do whatever is necessary all year to save our precious river.

If that means curtailing the water license-holding Crofton mill for a spell, so be it. Fish should come first.

Seemingly inflexible government flow-rate policies have left folks with One Cowichan, Cowichan Tribes, the thirsty mill, and others trapping, then trucking salmon upstream to spawn.

Even that may not save our fish this year due to the lack of stored weir water, plus brutal effects of climate change.

Temperatures in our hot river could almost poach pods of fish while some people, ignorant of our river crisis, are still fishing in the Cowichan. Ban that fishing now.

But without governments’ willing to listen and act in unison with our valiant valley stakeholders, our sad river seems doomed for a record bad summer.

Apparently it all could have been prevented, or at least mitigated.

We’re told back about 1985, government was advised by fretting, dedicated locals to raise the weir to capture spring runoff and snow-pack melt (none this year) for summer-flow use.

We’re now seeing the folly of those plugged bureaucratic ears — if you think like a fish.

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