Author Archives: swss

Salmo River Inhabitants Receive a Gift!

Contributing Stability, Protection and Habitat Enhancement!
Is there any greater Gift to our Community?



After a 3-year delay due to flood, fire and specialized equipment unavailability the Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society activated their unique engineered approach to fish habitat enhancement and bank stabilization.

This multi-faceted strategic project, was made possible with the gracious funding from the Columbia Basin Trust Environmental Enhancement Program, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Environment Canada Climate Change Environmental Damages Fund.

Three years ago, Streamkeeper Coordinator, Gerry Nellestijn worked with Rodman Hydrotechnical to assess the sites and the engineering evaluation/prescription/permitting needed for the project. Mike Zimmer, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Tim Davis, BC Habitat Biologist toured the site to share ideas/insights.

“Site A” encompasses ~440 metres of instream and bank mounted control. Additionally, a historical 240-metre side channel, “Waterstreet Side Channel” was reconstructed on the east side of the River. The inflow begins about 140-metres upstream of the erosion site and the outflow is 10-metres downstream.

Construction began early September. Henry and Austin Huser built the Channel first, diverting 1.5+ cubic metres of water from the high risk erosion site and easing the difficulty of working instream on Site A. The Channel was carefully built to preserve the typical habitat/cover, and to increase spawning habitat potential and highwater refuge for fish and other aquatic creatures.

“We were on the riverbed most days watching bits of the project from our side of the river and it was nice to see the care that was taken. Gerry and crew were very considerate when working near our property and when accessing the project through our property. An impressive project overall that the community and the SWSS should be proud of!” Janice and Alan Waterstreet

Site A required ~150 loads of rock for bank stabilization and to build/ballast 4-complex large wood W structures, 4-large Triangular structures, 4-Lateral Log structures, a Debris Catcher and 6-Boulder Clusters.

Last year, large rock for discharge control (to slow erosion capacity of the River) was stockpiled at Esovoloff’s place. An interesting aside to this project, last year the distance from a tree on their property to the eroded River edge measured 32 feet. This year, after a relatively insubstantial freshet, that distance was 16 feet. Construction comprised a large team: SilverKing Contracting for rock; trucking was provided by Kenny, Ray and James from Custom Dozing, Rob Lee Trucking, and others.

“It was a pleasure working with Gerry/Streamkeepers and their crew. Special thanks to operators Mitch and Callum for their awesome work. They all worked long hard days to get the job done, and what a great job they did. They should all be proud of the work they have done.”  Lance and Renee Esovoloff

Truckers fed Mountain Movers Excavation’s bank-placed hoe, who in turn fed Over The Edge Excavating’s River-placed spider hoe. The spider hoe worked instream to carefully place riprap and ballast rock for large wood structures; gently ‘walking’ down steep slopes into water and diligently crossing sensitive substrate, hardly leaving a trace.

Streamkeepers’ wood/ballast enhancement team: Lesya Roberts, Paige Mansvelt, and Chris Harkness applied finishing touches. Lisa Pavelich from Masse Environmental provided relief construction guidance. How fortunate to have James Baxter on site for his biological insights and ‘do any job’ attitude. What a crew… long hours of construction for days, completing the job in mid-October!

Click Here To See Spider Hoe In Action!

“In 2017 when we moved to Salmo, our river frontage looked dramatically different. That winter, and the subsequent winters, saw the heavy erosion of our beloved riverbank. About an acre was lost. We contact the RDCK, lobbied our MP; there was no help coming.  Every year more property, large trees, and huge boulders were being washed away. We were concerned about the loss of real-estate, but also, we were very concerned about how the additional sediment and destruction of fish habitat would impact the environment.

The Salmo Watershed Stream Keepers Society took a holistic approach to remediate the problem in 2022. Great care was taken when engineering the project, and the implementation of their plan put our environmental concerns at paramount. They utilized natural materials to stop erosion, build fish habitat and operated in a manner that minimized any negative impact on the environment. Their permaculture approach to remediation ensures as stones shift against the flow of the Salmo River, fish habitat will increase, the river will slow, and erosion will cease.” Casey Dalen

Significant contributions came from Casey Dalen and family, Monticola Forestry Ltd., and the BC Hydro Seven Mile Dam. Lance and Renee Esovoloff hosted Mitch, spider hoe operator from Abbotsford, in ‘Grandpa’s Cabin’. Al Waterstreet provided tools and specialized epoxy when supply chain snags hit at critical moments.

The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society would like to extend gratitude and congratulations for a huge project successfully coordinated and completed by our long-time coordinator, Gerry Nellestijn.

“We would like to pass on our gratitude to Gerry for getting the eroding river bank north of us, under control, with some very professional diking. Multiple emails and phone calls to various government officials resulted in endless buck passing, and going around in circles, with no one willing to help. The river had been shifting towards the Village of Salmo for the last 5 years. Gerry was the ONLY person who cut through the endless red tape and helped out our neighbours.”  Jackie and Mike Hutton

Combining Natures’ Needs with Community Needs.

Please support our important work!

You’re invited to the SWSS 20th Anniversary Fundraiser Celebration

The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society is celebrating their 20th Anniversary on April 21, 2018, from 5:00-9:00 pm at the Salmo Secondary School.
Please Come Join our celebration fundraiser with a silent auction, delicious DINNER, guest speakers and entertainment.  Invitation Attached.
Enjoy an evening of sharing with Corky Evans as keynote speaker who will speak about forestry, Lisa Pavelich, SWSS’s first summer student checks in, and Gerry Nellestijn will present SWSS’s 20 year highlights, leading to a Dreamscape presentation of what could be possible for The Place Where We Live.
The evenings entertainment will be provided by a rare appearance from the Salmo(n) River Dancers and the Salmo(n) River Singers.
Tickets can be purchased online with PayPal at, available by “Will Call” at the celebration entrance with receipt. Also available at The Goods Ymir General Store and Skyway Hardware, Salmo.
Please share this email with those people who would like to come to our celebration and help Imagine Salmon returning home to the Salmo River.

Imagine . . . Salmon

George Wilson and Gerry Nellestijn standing behind life-size wooden Salmon.

Can you imagine Salmon in the Salmo River? Historically our local River was called the Salmon River and was dominated by Salmon. Our Salmon started life in the Salmo(n) River and tributaries before starting an over 1000 km migration to the ocean. For one to four years they would reap the benefits of oceanic nutrients before returning to their birth streams of Sheep Creek, Clearwater Creek, the upper Salmo River, the South Salmo River, to spawn, die; and to begin the cycle again. The land and all the life around the river benefitted directly and indirectly from the nutrients that Salmon offered.

Twice a year First Nations and US Tribes met on the lower Salmo(n) River to harvest over 70,000 lbs of Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, and Steelhead. Salmon were key in First Nations economy, culture, and spiritual ways of life.

In 1939, Salmon passage to the Salmo(n) River was blocked with the building of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, 200 km south of the Canadian / US border. The loss of Salmon in our watershed did not go unnoticed. The land and its people have lived with this loss for over 75 years. Yet hope remains.

Imagine Salmon.

Imagine Salmon returning to a land that has longed for their return for over 75 years. Imagine the colour of the Salmo(n) River changing from blue to red. Imagine the overflow of nutrients benefitting our forests, our wildlife and ourselves. If we can imagine, we can make it happen.

The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society (SWSS) Imagine Salmon Campaign focuses on increasing awareness, public involvement, and political advocacy. Last summer we put up several signs throughout Salmo and are looking to expand awareness initiatives to Ymir and throughout our watershed. An associated mural next to the post office can be viewed from the alley as well. Other involved individuals, like George Wilson (pictured with Gerry Nellestijn), are cutting out wooden Salmon that may be painted by students and installed in various locations to produce three-dimensional “Salmon River Scenes”.

SWSS has also created an Imagine Salmon presentation regarding Salmon and the Columbia River Treaty (CRT), which we brought to Nakusp in early December. The Valley Voice published a related article in their December 14, 2017 issue that can be viewed online. In the spring of 2017 the presentation was given at the Salmo Community Centre and now we are looking forward to presenting at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson in 2018. Stay tuned for the date!

With each year our imagination and our collective ability to initiate change grows.

If you would like to help cut out Salmon (must have a jigsaw tool) or have interest in displaying a “Salmon River Scene” on your property, please contact us via Facebook or phone (250-357-2630). Learn more about SWSS on our website,

SWSS Celebrates BC Rivers Day 2017 in Trail, BC

Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society brought its “What is a Watershed” Program to the City of Trail on September 24, 2017 in honour of BC Rivers Day. Participants learned about Water Quality and Quantity, and how aquatic macro-invertebrates (bugs) can give an indication of system health.  The SWSS thanks Teck Metals Ltd. for their Program delivery support.