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Mainroad truck delivering spawnng gravel
General News · 28th October 2021
FOCI Streamkeepers Christine
What is spawning gravel, and how much is three tons?

Spawning gravel characteristics are important. The average size should be roughly the size of the spawners’ tails. The most important thing is that it be rounded and smooth as from glacial grinding or water erosion. Sharp rock that is blasted or crushed in a rock quarry would be harmful to salmon.

Gravel for creek enhancement projects would usually be washed shiny clean. On Cortes, it is perhaps more natural, screened to size but includes fine sand and gravel as it would be in nature. We are fortunate on Cortes that this special spawning gravel is saved for creek work by our wonderful road crew. Over time, the stream flow will put the larger gravel where the salmon need it, and the small gravel and sand where the smaller cutthroat trout need it.

How much is three tons of gravel?
And what happened to the gravel?

Picture 27 hardy volunteers on Sept. 25 and Oct 11 hand-carrying 278 part-buckets of spawning gravel along the James Creek Grandmother Grove trail in the Children’s Forest, and a zipline transporting the buckets down to James Creek. The zipline protected the steep riparian slope from erosion, and gave the bucket carriers welcome relief, although a ride down the zipline was envisioned by many.

The 2021 James Creek Gravel Project was the 2nd year of volunteer & community effort in a 3-4 year process of completion. This was sponsored by FOCI Streamkeepers and DFO, and supported by Mainroad Contracting, Mosaic Forest Management Corporation, the Cortes Forestry General Partnership, and landowners Nick Gagnon & partners, and John Drew. Special thanks to Mainroad Contracting and our local highways crew, John Messant and Bruce Brown, who zealously guard the spawning gravel in their gravel pit, and for their time and effort transporting the gravel to James Creek. Thanks to the Coop and Anne Hiatt for providing goodies to fuel the human effort, and special thanks to Elijah and Max for the zipline setup, which was indispensable to the success of the project.

A 32-metre riffle, which is the fast-moving current in a creek, was enhanced by the new gravel, creating a beautiful, gleaming stream bottom as an invitation for spawning chum salmon that we hope to see in the next couple of weeks.

Zipline at work
Zipline at work
Hefty work
Hefty work
A gleaming riffle at the end of the day
A gleaming riffle at the end of the day