Screenshot from video posted in early 2021 showing repeated crossings through side channels of the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO of Fraser Valley East detachment confirmed new signage is coming to Gill Road bar. (Facebook)

LETTER: Don’t restrict access to Gill bar in Chilliwack

Actions of a few doing damage is not typical

Re: “Call for moratorium on vehicle access to Fraser River gravel bars,Chilliwack Progress, March 5, 2021.

I am one of the frequent visitors to the Gill Road bar discussed in the above mentioned article. It is alarming to consider the possibility that access could be restricted to this fabulous recreation area.

The actions of the truck drivers running through a backwater recently posted to Facebook is of concern to all who saw it. This is certainly not typical of the thousands of visitors who frequent the island from week to week. The vast majority using the area are agate hunters, quadders, campers on the weekends, fishers in season and families out for the day.

Contrary to your article there is minimal refuse left by the users. There is the odd bit here and there but since the derelict trailers were removed and the gates closed at night the place is near pristine.

READ MORE: Salmon society calls for moratorium on vehicle access to gravel bars near Chilliwack

To get from one high bank area to the next we cross through inches of water for several feet. Those who frequent the bars cross in the same areas. If you were to add up all the square feet that our vehicles are actually in the water you would be hard pressed to get to a quarter acre. The Fraser River, for context, is over 1,300 kilometres in length and drains an area in excess of 220,000 square kilometres. The actual area of river bed and bars would run in the tens of thousands of acres from Hope to Vancouver.

If there are other accessible bars to vehicles I am unaware of them as Herrling Island was blocked off years ago. So, my question is: Do recreational users not get even a smidgeon of this vast area? Perhaps an answer to the habitat dilemma, which I would think is minimally impacted by the current use of Gill and Jesperon, is to perhaps shorten the fishing season by a few hours, reduce the allowable sport catch, or limit the catch on the oceans by a small amount. If we are to truly share what this beautiful province has to offer then it seems unreasonable, and tremendously unfair, to put the burden on a single area and on only one group of users.

Particularly impacted would be the seniors like myself. We simply cannot walk the two kilometres of the present bars. Last year, when Jesperson was accessible the islands were over six kilometres. We need our vehicles, as do families and other users. Hopefully, reason will prevail, and the use will remain the same as it is now.

Lorraine Templier

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