My buddy Yvon and I made the trek up to Skeena Country to give talks at the SkeenaWild fundraiser, but also to spend time with our friend Bruce, and sneak in a little fishing, too. I don’t know if there’s a more important place for Western Canadadian conservation–or epic meals–than the wooden table in Bruce and Anne Hill’s kitchen in Terrace, BC. Ideas, plans, strategies and campaigns have been hatched, setbacks lamented, victories celebrated around this table, and I always feel honored to have a seat here. On this morning, Bruce and Yvon talk history and strategy for the video cameras.
Then we were off to The Shack, for more time with friends I never get to see enough, and some actual fishing. After a day on the water, that’s (from left to right) Yvon, April, Aaron, Bruce and Calvin chewing the fat before dinner. Rick, our host was, I believe, outside turning moose steaks and deer backstrap on the barbecue, and I took a quick break from tending the matsutake mushroom rice to snap this shot. The highlight of the night, and probably the whole trip, for me, was when Bruce put his prized Martin six-string in my hands, and with a mix of embarrassment and fumbling fingers, I plunked out and sang a couple verses of Long Black Veil with Bruce. My utter lack of guitar and singing skills made me unworthy of the instrument, but it’s a moment that’ll stay with me forever.
Lured in by the aroma of sizzling moose steaks, our landlord, Bob and his giant friend Ootza(sp?), dropped by for a bite and a visit. Bob is one of the finest steelhead anglers and cane-rod makers on the planet, as well as a staunch protector of his beloved river and fish. He’s also a hell of a nice guy. Any time I fish or talk with him, I learn something new. Stay tuned for fishing and fish…
What is it that makes the Skeena watershed so special? Is it the size of the fish, the 25-pound Kispiox steelhead or the 80-pound Kalum Chinook? The sheer abundance of all six species of wild Pacific salmon, with populations that run into the millions? The gorgeous scenery? The easy road access, good towns and friendly people?
For me, it’s all of those things. I dream of autumn floats down the Bulkley amid glowing cottonwoods; of big steelhead rising to dry flies; icy spring tailouts on the Kalum; casting into the enormous mainstem Skeena in search of fish that match the river in size and strength. The fact is, the unique combination of great fishing and access that we’re privileged to experience on the Skeena doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
But right now, the proposed Petronas LNG plant, which would be built right in the Skeena estuary, could bring an end to much of what we love about this river. This development would require massive dredging of the eelgrass flats around Lelu Island, the very habitat that allows juvenile salmon and steelhead to thrive. Even the Canadian government’s own studies show that altering this critical rearing habitat would significantly damage Skeena salmon and steelhead runs.
What can you do? Click HERE and sign the petition. It’s easy and it makes a difference.
What is it that makes the Skeena special? It’s everything, really. But at the heart of it, it’s the salmon and steelhead. If the Petronas plant gets built, the fish runs will dwindle . Is that a sacrifice we’re willing to make?
<pix courtesy of Tim Pask>