Rick Hansen to attend juvenile sturgeon release
This year’s annual juvenile white sturgeon release, hosted by the Upper Columbia White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (UCWSRI), promises to be extra-special. The free public event will be opened by long-time sturgeon advocate, celebrated athlete, and Canada’s “Man in Motion,” Rick Hansen. The event, at Hugh Keenleyside Dam (south-west side) near Castlegar on Monday April 23rd, starts at noon and runs through until 3.00 p.m. Rick is scheduled to be on site until 1.00 p.m.
“I became involved with sturgeon conservation over fifteen years ago, and along with my work in removing barriers to accessibility and advancing spinal cord injury research, the preservation and protection of these majestic creatures and their natural habitat and ecosystems has become another of my lifelong passions,” said Rick Hansen. “Myself and our 25th Anniversary Relay team are extremely honoured to be a part of the sturgeon release – an event that will both educate the public and build the population of the white sturgeon – and I applaud the work being done by the Upper Columbia White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative.”
Approximately 4,000 ten month-old juvenile white sturgeon will be released into various locations of the Columbia River between Castlegar and Trail with 2,100 being released at the UCWSRI event. School students and the public get the opportunity to release their very own sturgeon into the river, learn about their life history and find out what actions are being undertaken to make sure this endangered population survives, and thrives.
“This is a unique experience that enables people to connect with this very special fish,” said Gerry Nellestijn, chair of the Community Working Group of the UCWSRI. “The fish look - and feel - like creatures from prehistoric times since they have largely remained unchanged for 175 million years. By getting the community, particularly the younger generations, involved, and increasing awareness, we feel there are much better chances for the survival of this population.”
A community “fishbowl” meeting on the same day, from 7.00 – 9.00 p.m. at the Castlegar & District Community Complex, is part building awareness. The public is invited to learn more about the science behind restoring a naturally self-sustaining sturgeon population, and future plans to help this endangered species. Presenters will include fish biologists, technicians and sturgeon recovery experts; participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, and speak with members of the Sturgeon Recovery Initiative.
The Initiative is a partnership of more than 20 stakeholders from government, First Nations, industry, community and environmental organizations. Sturgeon recovery includes research to determine the causes of decline, release of hatchery-reared juveniles from wild stock adults, restoration of habitat, and monitoring and management of water flows. To find out more about the UCWSRI visit www.uppercolumbiasturgeon.org.
Funding support for the release event is from BC Hydro, FortisBC, Teck and the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (a partnership of BC Hydro, the Province of B.C. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.) A free shuttle service will be available from Castlegar, courtesy of Mountain Transport Institute. The first shuttle will depart from the Pioneer Arena at 11.30 a.m. For more information about the sturgeon release event, or the fishbowl meeting, call the BC Hydro office at 250-365-4550.
This article is a press release from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) Columbia Region.