Category Archives: News

One River: Ethics Matter Conference

An important conference centered around a sustainable, ethical and respectful management of the Columbia River Basin will be happening at the Selkirk College – Castlegar college on May 30-31th. The 2019 One River, Ethics Matter conference will explore remedial options through respectful dialogue and further public education specifically regarding the Columbia River Treaty by the following considerations:

  • adding a third Treaty purpose co-equal to existing Treaty purposes of hydropower and flood control, and
  • new approaches to ethical governance of the river that strengthen river and community resiliency, restore salmon and other fisheries, and right historic wrongs done to the Upper Columbia River region, indigenous peoples, and other citizens of the watershed.

SWSS’s coordinator, Gerry Nellestijn will be one of the guest speakers. Many experts, First Nation representatives and other influential people will be present for what should be a very constructive and insightful conference.

This a FREE event and is open to the public. For more information and FREE registration, visit this link.

Here is the schedule of the event. For a full description of the schedule, visit this link.

Thursday, May 30
10 – 1 p.m. Field Trips (Rain or shine) (Meet at front entrance of the College)

  • Option 1: History Tour
  • Option 2: Hiking Ecology Tour
  • Option 3: Canoe paddle through the navigation lock at Hugh Keenleyside Dam

1 – 2 p.m. Lunch Break – Bring your own
2 – 4 p.m. Spotlight on Youth Program (all ages encouraged) – Staff Lounge
4 – 4:30 Walk to River
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Blessing of the Salishan Sturgeon Nose Canoe (at water’s edge)
6 p.m. BBQ at the Mir Centre for Peace ($15, pre-registration required)
7 p.m. Circle Introductions around fire (Mir Centre)

Friday, May 31
8 – 8:30 a.m. Registration (front entrance) & Coffee (outside Sen-113)
8:30 – 9:15 a.m. Opening, Prayer & Welcome (Sen-113)
9:15 – 10 a.m. Panel – Rivers of our Moment (Sen-113)
10 – 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 – 12 p.m. Panel – Rivers Through our Memory (Sen-113)
12 – 1 p.m. Lunch
1 – 2:15 p.m. Break Out Groups – Rivers of our Vision

  • Room A: Treaty and Governance (Gathering Place)
  • Room B: Ecosystem Function (Staff Lounge)
  • Room C: Salmon Recovery (Kok-11)

2:15 – 2:30 p.m. Break (The Pit)
2:30 – 3:45 p.m. Panel – Rivers as our Responsibility (The Pit)
3:45 – 4 p.m. Closing (The Pit)

Salmo elementary students create a community action project

Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to welcome grade 2 and 3 students from the Salmo elementary school. This was an initiative by Emily Newberry, a local resident and student of the teaching program at the University of Victoria. As part of her 6 weeks practicum, Emily and her student built a community project. Together, they choose to act on the loss of wetland habitat in the Salmo River Watershed. In April, they organized a bake sale at the Salmo Village Grocery and raised 177.15$. The money was used for the purchase of willow cuttings which they planted around SWSS’s wetlands. The students also attended a presentation on the importance of wetlands. This was a very fun experience and will greatly contribute to our wetland restoration effort. We would like to thank everyone who have supported this activity. Many volunteer parents were also present and were very helpful in making this a success. On the picture bellow, a student is handing the money to SWSS’s coordinator, Gerry Nellestijn.

Art Fundraiser!

This year, the Ymir House Art Show have chosen to support the Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society with their annual fundraiser. Local artists Paula Ebelher and Caran J Magaw have produced some wonderful pieces inspired by the beauty of our Watershed. Check them out on Facebook at: Ymir House Art Show III.

‘Hatch’ by Paula Ebelher

‘Return’ by Caran J Magaw. A 20×12” ink on diabond. It symbolizes the hope for Salmon to return to the Salmo river. Also available in 6×4″ postcards.

Sightings of Harlequin Ducks Wanted in the Salmo River Watershed:

Harlequin Ducks are striking sea ducks that overwinter on the coast and migrate to the interior to breed. Their ability to swim in turbulent white water, where they dip and dive for aquatic insects, is unmatched. For breeding, they select undisturbed, fast-moving portions of rivers and streams with dense riparian vegetation. Females return to their natal streams, and typically use the same breeding sites, unless they become degraded or disturbed. For all of the above reasons, Harlequin Ducks are sensitive indicators of freshwater ecosystems.
A 1996 inventory of Harlequins conducted in the Salmo River watershed documented a provincially significant breeding population (54 adults: 33 males and 21 females). Since then, there’s been a number of changes in the watershed, and an FWCP survey in 1999 began to document population declines. A 2009 re-survey confirmed a 22% decline in the adult population. Additional stressors have emerged, most notably a March 2019 fuel spill in the South Salmo River which further threatens this population. Pandion Ecological Research Ltd., in collaboration with Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society, is repeating a Harlequin pair and brood inventory from May to July 2019, along with stewardship follow-up at specific sites.

You can help!

Information and sightings are actively being sought from the public to assist in focusing inventory and stewardship attention on active sites, and in detecting oiled birds. Please share your sightings of Harlequin Ducks in the Salmo River watershed.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Marlene Machmer
Tel: 250-505-9978
More info:

This inventory and stewardship of
Salmo Watershed Harlequin Ducks is
funded by the Fish & Wildlife
Compensation Program


Imagine Salmon Sand Scratch

This is how we like to celebrate Earth Day!
We believe that, in the Canadian Columbia Basin, “in our lifetime, The Columbia River Treaty is the most important opportunity we will have to make real Environmental change”. To show case this we’ve worked with Denis Klein’s Kootenay School of the Arts students and renowned sand artist Peter Vogelaar to ‘scratch’ this 200’ planet into a sand bar close to Kokanee Creek Park.

This public art is part of the SWSS’s Multi-facted Imagine Salmon Campaign supporting Salmon Reintroduction into the Salmo(N) River and beyond into the Columbia River upstream of Chief Joseph Dam. The Chief Joseph and the Grand Coolie dams are passage barriers for Salmon migration into their historical spawning waters in the Canadian Columbia Basin.

A big thanks to Donavan Ackerman for the drone imagery!

South Salmo River Fuel Spill

On April 11th 2018, we went downstream of the South Salmo River confluence to have a look at the Environmental response activities following the fuel spill in the South Salmo River. A spider hoe, a low Environmental impact exactor, was on site to agitate the substrate in order to release the fuel trapped in the substrate. Booms were still on site to contain and skim the fuel. We also went on the field the week before. The smell was still apparent and walking on the stream edge released fuel sheening. We flipped a few rocks and only dead invertebrates were observed. On April 14th, we were informed that the environmental emergency response team was leaving the site. The Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society was not involved in the environmental emergency.

More info are available here:

Open Letter in Response of the South Salmo River Fuel Spill

Fri March 29th

Open Letter Re: The South Salmo River Petroleum spill.

It’s been approximately 32 hours since an extreme human and Environmental tragedy has occurred involving the driver of a double tanker truck, Highway 3 – the “Kootenay Pass” the South Salmo/Salmo River and downstream water bodies.

This is an emotional story, one that first of all needs to acknowledge our sincere sympathy for the family, friends and colleagues of the truck driver that lost his life in an accident that ended up placing the double tanker truck in the South Salmo River.

It’s also an extreme Environmental disaster.  Although we have not been made aware of any clear figures detailing the extent of the spill, it is clear that this is serious.  Perhaps the most serious spill of its kind in the West Kootenay…beyond?  In the Salmo River Watershed it is likely the single most direct dumping – in this case accidental – of aggressive pollutants into our system since eleven operating Stamp Mills used the Salmo River, with impunity, to rid themselves of their toxins.

The Environmental consequence of the spill will likely have ongoing impacts for years, how many years will be a consequence of how we – humans – treat this disaster.  Will we try to let it go, fade away, do nothing?  Certainly this is a typical strategy of other Environmental disasters that are unfolding here and beyond.  The Forest Sector disaster, mine tailings restoration, the emerging pipelines disaster, air, soil and water quality disasters that are all happening, again with impunity.

After over two decades of study in the Salmo River Watershed, Streamkeepers knows that we need restoration in this River system.  We have chosen to use two simple strategies for our Aquatic Ecosystem Community.  Common strategies to all life.  Provide a home… and food.

The spill will likely have disastrous effects on every variable contributing to food production in the system – the ability of nutrients to respond naturally – to feed periphyton or mosses that feed invertebrates (aquatic bugs) that are the prey species for the Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout that are rearing and overwintering downstream of the spill.

Clearly extensive ‘home renovations’ will have to occur to mitigate the impacts of this disaster as well.

Streamkeepers realize that the Environment is quickly becoming recognized as the central over-arching social justice issue on the Planet.

We also recognize that those that benefit from the Environment should support a stable approach to restore it. This also applies to those that impact the Environment.

Traditionally sectoral interests of the economy, Community and the Environment have been separated.  Thinking today realizes that sectoral separation is a major disadvantage, we all need to work together to make the Place Where We Live better.

Streamkeepers has lead, or been part of studies in the South Salmo River and Downstream for decades.  In this tragedy, our insights, expertise have not been consulted or responded to. Re: this spill and the other emerging environmental disasters in this Watershed and beyond it’s time for the exclusion tactic– whatever the reason – of those involved in response to these events – to end.

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,