Feb 13,2009 The Now News

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009

The road into Mossom Creek Hatchery has been covered with thick, hard snow since late 2008, but students and volunteers still clamour up the icy trail, despite a lack of plowing from the City of Port Moody.

"I'm very disappointed in the way the city has handled the snow at Mossom Creek," Coun. Gerry Nuttall said at Tuesday's council meeting.

"When this issue was first brought to council [on Jan. 27] we got staff to go and take some pictures. Then they came back later and said we had to get permission from the land owner but nothing was done," Nuttall said.
He added it became an "emergency situation."

"Volunteers were hiking up there with kids, and everyone was slipping and falling all over. Staff should act immediately and concisely."

Mayor Joe Trasolini agreed.

"If we believe Mossom Creek is an essential part of the community and if it is not accessible, it provides no service to the community," Trasolini said.

He added that many local schools take students up there, and a lot of volunteers use the area to work with salmon eggs and fry.

But staff do need clear direction, Trasolini clarified, and there must be a clear dialogue between the city's staff and Mossom Creek.

"When there is a need, there should be a call," he said.

However, Mossom Creek Hatchery co-founder Ruth Foster said plowing the access road is really not an issue for the hatchery.

"We were negligent in not requesting help earlier. There is one kilometre of road leading into the wilderness, two thirds of which is gravel," she said. "It's not something we have a strong expectation about."

But, Foster notes, one particular downside to the remaining snow is that the Centennial School Salmon Project (the club co-managing the hatchery since 1976) has been unable to access the site since mid-December.

"Grade 9 to 12 students usually arrive by bus each Wednesday after school," Foster said. "Not only could the bus not make it up the gravel access road, it could not park on Ioco Road either because of the huge snow piles."

Though Foster would like to think she and her fellow volunteers are "out of the snow now," she said the real issue is the source of silt in Mossom Creek.

Believed to originate from an upstream development, a scourge of thick, grainy silt has crept steadily through the creek since the beginning of January. The silt prevents water from flowing freely through gravel layers in the stream. When it descends on vulnerable salmon eggs, the silt suffocates them while also making it difficult for surviving fry to swim and find food.

And because of these recent threats to their environment, these growing salmon need all the nurturing they can get.

"We need someone to work there every day," Foster said. "And some volunteers have not been able to afford the time it takes to walk in and out and do the daily feeding and record-taking."

In addition to the troubles accessing the site, hatchery volunteers have seen quite a few trees fall across the road due to the weighty snow load.

"Twice we have had chainsaw work parties," Foster said.
However, these snow-covered circumstances have left room for a bit of warmth. Two Saturdays ago, Anmore scouts volunteered to help hatchery volunteers gain access to the site. Volunteer Wade Parrish brought three scout leaders along with an ATV affixed with a little snow plow, and he and the scouts worked all day to clear the way.

"We have a disabled volunteer, and the snow was definitely an issue for her," Foster said. "But the scouts dug out a trench to get her through the snow, and she was able to come up.

"They are our knights in shining armour."