Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

FROZEN RUINS – Last Saturday’s fire at the McIntyre Creek incubation facility killed more than 40,000 chinook and chum fry and caused up to $60,000 worth of damage.

Fire hasn’t killed salmon restoration work

The Fox Creek salmon restoration project will go on.

By Whitehorse Star on April 5, 2018

The Fox Creek salmon restoration project will go on.

That was the word Wednesday from the Ta’an Kwä’chän Council.

It lost 25,000 chinook salmon fry due to a fire last Saturday afternoon at the McIntyre Creek incubation facility off Mountainview Drive.

A total of more than 40,000 chinook and chum fry were lost in the blaze, which has been linked to the thawing of some frozen pipes. Structural damage is estimated at between $50,000 and $60,000.

The fire began after a man working to thaw the pipes had left the building.

Mountainview Drive was closed for 2 1/2 hours while the fire was quelled and the site cleaned up.

“We are saddened about the loss of the chinook salmon,” Chief Kristina Kane said in a statement.

“Salmon are crucial in our heritage as Ta’an Kwäch’än, or people of the head of the lake.”

The Fox Creek salmon restoration project began in 2007 as a way of re-establishing a self-sustaining population of chinook salmon in a tributary of Lake Laberge, where the fish had been extirpated, the chief added.

“We were guided by traditional knowledge that told us the salmon had once existed in these waters of our traditional territories,” Kane said.

“The project—fostered by elders, supported by citizens and many generous collaborators— is successful in that we have strengthened relationships, provided education and training for youth.

“In recent years, we were happy to see wild hatchlings emerging from the substrate.”

Kane said the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council extends its sympathies to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, which suffered a loss of fish, and project host Yukon College, which has lost part of the incubation facility.

“We note the fragility of life,” Kane said.

“However, we have long been aware of the resilience of nature and of our own people.

“We are confident that our project, now more than 10 years old, will meet these present challenges and grow.”

There may be lower numbers of adult returns for several years, with fewer eggs being naturally deposited.

“The opportunity to train youth and staff in tagging in preparation for the fry release will most likely be diminished this season,” Kane said.

“However, this is a well-established and healthy project, dear to the hearts of the Ta’an people. Ta’an Kwäch’än Council will continue to monitor juveniles, flow rates, temperatures, wild fry emergence and the adult returns.”

While the loss of the chinook fry in the hatchery is a misfortune, she added, “it is heartening that some fry, being raised in schools through the Stream to Sea Program, will be available for release.

“Through the interest of youth, the strength of our staff and citizens, and the continued support of our partners and collaborators, the Fox Creek Restoration Project will continue to thrive.”

Comments (1)

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Jackie H. Myers on Apr 7, 2018 at 8:00 am

My heart goes out to all involved in this worthwhile historic project. From New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where Derek Cooke and Amzie Cooke were visiting for my 90th birthday; however lian Goodall relayed that sad news. Best in your future!

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