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Harrison Salmon Stronghold

Designated Canada's First Salmon Stronghold


Following a rigorous scientific assessment, the Harrison River joins the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership representing British Columbia in an international network of the most significant rivers in North America.
These rivers are in need of careful planning and environmental stewardship to preserve them as reliable salmon refuges that are important to the long term sustainability of Pacific salmon.
 Harrison River ~ a stronghold for Pacific salmon ecosystem diversity
All 5 five salmon species and steel head are found in the Harrison River, but it is the combination of both abundance and diversity of these fish that makes this a true Pacific salmon strong-hold. Salmon are found in all life history stages throughout the river, its lake, tributaries, sloughs and wetlands. They in turn sup-port a variety of other life in the valley.
The variety of unique physical and life-history traits in Harrison River salmon safeguards these fish from the destructive effects of habitat and climate change. These characteristics further differentiate each of the salmon species into unique spawning populations that are called Conservation Units (CUs) under Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. These CU’s need to be protected in order to conserve population vitality and the value of this salmon ecosystem as a enduring refuge for Pacific Salmon.
The Harrison River is within BC’s Coastal Western-Hemlock zone and the Fraser River Salmon Eco-region. The Stronghold encompasses a 2,500 km2 watershed, including 60 km long Harrison Lake and four primary salmon-producing tributaries.
Chehalis River and Weaver Creek are tributaries to the Harrison River; Cogburn and Big Silver Creeks are tributaries to the Lake; The Lake’s largest inlet is the Lillooet River inflowing at Port Douglas; its outlet flows south near the resort community of Harrison Hotsprings for 16 km past the community of Sts’ailes to its confluence with the Fraser River at Harrison Mills, located approximately 95 km’s east of Vancouver, and 116 km from Georgia Strait.Eagle
Salmon abundance and diversity is necessary to support other animals in the Harrison River stronghold. Black bears, eagles, river otters and seals are among the resident wild-life of the river valley that depend upon migrating salmon that are present year-round.
Harrison River’s nutrient-rich wetlands and vast riparian habitats owe their fertility to the salmon. The nutrients left behind by salmon nourishes the eco-system long-after their carcasses disappear, supporting an array of other life.
The stronghold initiative advocates local leadership and encourages partnership building among managers, landowners and users of the resource through habitat and fisheries stewardship.
The return of salmon fishing to the Harrison River allows the harvesters to select the most productive stocks to protect biodiversity. This move to terminal fishing improves opportunities for Aboriginal subsistence,as well as commercial, and sport fisheries.
Sts’ailes first salmon ceremonies honor the returning salmon today as they have done for countless generations, and involves putting the bones and unused portions of the first salmon back in the river. Pre-contact fish weirs still mark traditional use areas, and archaeological remains are
evidence that salmon has been in Sts’ailes diet for thousands of years.
Salmon Ceremony 
The Harrison River Salmon Stronghold is among North Pacific’s most productive and ecologically-significant salmon rivers, including Kol River in Kamchatka Russia, Sarufutsu River in Japan, Alaska’s Bristol Bay, and the Hoh River on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.
The Vision and structure of the Harrison River Stronghold are being established in 2013. A local public forum will provide opportunity to create the vision and chart the stronghold’s course. A founding partners team will gain essential local leadership from Sts’ailes with public support from the Fraser River Salmon Table to guide the stronghold initiative.
Healthy wild salmon are a reflection of a healthy ecosystem and portends our own futures. This project is about sustaining both the salmon and our quality of life for future generations.