The Thompson Steelhead Community Collaboration Initiative
Why this project matters
Steelhead are an iconic symbol of the Thompson River and region in British Columbia. Having long sustained Indigenous people, steelhead are also central to the region’s world-class recreational fishery. Unfortunately, this salmonid species is in decline, and today Thompson Steelhead are classed as a species of extreme conservation concern by the provincial government.
A new initiative is underway for a recovery and management plan that will bring together multiple partners from across a diverse group of communities. This project, led by the Fraser Basin Council, will engage SFI Program Participants about how Indigenous peoples value steelhead, identify modified forest management practices and seek future opportunities to collaborate.
Why is SFI involved?
This initiative is designed to raise awareness and foster collaboration between Indigenous peoples, the commercial sport fishery and forest managers in the Thompson River watershed. Indigenous peoples have long relied on forests for cultural, spiritual and material needs.
SFI builds partnerships with Indigenous communities and the SFI 2015-2021 Forest Management Standard requires certificate holders to recognize and respect Indigenous peoples’ rights. This steelhead initiative supports this requirement. The initiative also supports SFI’s focus on supporting sustainable rural communities. The steelhead commercial fishery is an important source of income for communities in the Thompson River watershed.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
This grant supports SFI’s community engagement efforts in three primary ways. Training and educating current and future professionals, notably resource managers, is a key SFI community focus. This initiative directly engages forest management planners in addressing values that support steelhead habitat. SFI Program Participants BC Timber Sales, Stuwix Resources and West Fraser Mills are supporting these engagement efforts.
SFI’s commitment to support and promote Indigenous heritage values is directly addressed by the initiative’s plans to convey the importance of steelhead to the cultural and dietary requirements of the Nlaka’pamux and Secwepemc peoples.
A third SFI community value – supporting underserved communities through forestry – is addressed by helping recover steelhead populations, which will ultimately result in a return of a sport fishery for B.C. communities such as Spence’s Bridge. It is estimated that up to two-thirds of the economic value of the sport fishery in small communities such as Spence’s Bridge has been lost with the decline of steelhead over the last few decades.
This partnership includes Indigenous peoples, provincial government departments, conservationists and SFI Program Participants.
- Project lead: Fraser Basin Council
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- BC Timber Sales (SFI Program Participant)
- Cook’s Ferry Indian Band
- Secwepemc Fisheries Commission
- Stuwix Resources (SFI Program Participant)
- West Fraser Mills (SFI Program Participant)