Monday, November 24, 2008

Skeena Quality Waters Strategy

Members of the stakeholder Working Groups who helped develop the draft Angling Management Plan for steelhead angling in the Skeena River watershed need your input. They want to know what you like and don’t like about the draft Angling Management Plan. They want to know how the plan should be changed to better address the issues that people in the community have raised.

The feedback that you provide in this form will give the information the Working Groups need to help finalize the draft Angling Management Plan and present it to the Ministry of Environment.

Please take the time to fill out the Response Form. The deadline for completing this form is November 30, 2008.

Photo courtesy of Brian Bennett


Tim Pask said...

I have been involved in this messy process for months. All I can tell you is that the process has been flawed from day one. I could write a book about it, but I'll just make a few points.

1) The "Working Groups" who drafted this were made up of Local Guides and Local Resident Anglers.

2) The local businesses that are supported by the angling tourism business were not represented. Non-resident angler were not represented (maybe rightfully so). Non-resident BC property owners (I am one) were not represented.

3) Wild fish returns were not considered in this process. I know its hard to believe that the fish themselves are not being considered to contribute to a "Quality Experience".

4) No feasibility or impact study was conducted to measure the impact to local, regional to providential economies.

5) Non resident angler "Use Permit" show a rapid decline in the number of days fished. 38% since 2003

6) The toolbox in which the work group had to implement changes was extremely limited. As an example they were not even allowed to consider increasing fee's that could be earmarked and used to buy out commercial gill nets (a whole issue by itself)

7) If implemented as is there would be clear cut winners and losers. Its easy to see the winners here, as the losers will be the businesses supported by the non resident DIY anglers, who would rather fish without a guide.

8) If you consider that over 80% of the conservation money to protect the Skeena watershed comes from non-residents, then it is reasonable to believe a lot of that critical funding dries up.

9) Ultimately the wild fish loose, as we need all of us standing on a united front working hard to protect this amazing place.

10) The resource extraction companies like Shell Oil, must surely be smiling. Divide us, conquer us, exploit us, and once they have destroyed the resource they leave us.

I completely agree we need to address some issues and I also think we can make some positive changes that will benefit all user groups and most of all insure protection for the Skeena. But this current draft plan will is taking us down the wrong path.

El Pescador said...

Those are ten good points TP. I know that your months of involvement in the process have honed your vantage. I've seen a lot of email from a lot of influentials on this topic. It would be great to have as many of them express their latest views here at Way Upstream in the final days before the comment period ends. I am hopeful the Ministry and collective working group (all those passionate about the natural resource) can reach the high ground.

Brambor said...

Nice Picture Brian!

Tim Pask said...

Today is the last day to participate. So be heard if you are a "DIY" angler and hope to visit the Skeena in the future.

El Pescador said...

Keep us all posted here at Way Upstream now that the comment period has reached term. Things should get even more interesting. Thanks El Paskador.

Matadors Blog said...

Vote Steelhead Bailout!

El Pescador said...

Thanks for the Steelhead Bailout link Rob. Lots going on with this fish, the habitat, the people and the planet.

El Pescador said...

I've been tied into an email comment circle on the subject of wild steelhead. The exchange has been enlightening. I got permission from Bruce Hill to republish his latest email which conveyed his sentiment to date on the attempted large scale cooperation through due process. I encourage others on the distribution list of that comment circle and anyone who wants to say something about the topic to consider this post your stump.

From: Bruce Hill
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's up to the decision makers now.
Flawed process? Yes
Everyone pissed off? Yes
Still one of the great steelhead resources left in the world? Yes
Skeena still threatened by bad shit? Yes, bigtime, and the Enbridge pipeline is about more than threats to steelhead, its a big part of the threat to every person and creature on this planet. Last night I saw scientists saying the Arctic ocean will be seasonally ice free by 2020, and that hasn't happened for over two million years.

If I lost my ability to fish the Skeena tomorrow, I'd still fight like hell to protect it, because something this special is worth protecting, period, and its not about me anyway.

One can only hope someone is actually in charge (Not sure on that one, given the awkwardness of this process and its execution), and they will be wise and fair, throwing out the bad shit, keeping the practical and effective.

And here's hoping the fish will come back next year, and we'll all get to experience the magic dance on the bones of our hands.
And by all thats holy I fervently hope this is my last e-mail on this issue.

Thanks to Tony, Dylan, and all those voices of calm and reason.

"Don't mourn, organize" -- Joe Hill

El Pescador said...

For those of you following this issue, head on over to The Trout Underground and read the recent post by Tom Chandler -

Anonymous said...

To: All stakeholders

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who participated in the consultation process since the release of the draft Angling Management Plan on October 17, 2008. Your ideas on what you like about the draft plan, what you don't like, and most importantly the solutions you have offered are greatly appreciated and fundamental to the success of this process.

Significant concerns were raised about the draft Angling Management Plan and the provincial Quality Waters Strategy process. The Ministry of Environment and the Regional Committee that oversees the Quality Waters Strategy in Skeena Region are committed to the development of a draft Angling Management Plan that carefully considers all interests. Further
work will be necessary to develop solutions and achieve balance amongst all stakeholders.

During the Phase II Consultation, which ended on November 30, 2008, there were 28 stakeholder meetings with 224 people attending and six Public Open Houses with 145 in attendance in the communities of Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace, Hazelton, Smithers and Houston. More than 350 emails with comments have been received and 445 Response Forms were completed either online or at the Public Open Houses.

The information documented during stakeholder meetings and Public Open Houses, the email comments, and results of the Response Forms will be summarized in a Phase II Consultation Report. This report will provide critical information for the Working Groups to consider when revising the draft Angling Management Plan. An email notification will be sent when this report is available.

The Ministry of Environment and the Regional Committee are reviewing all relevant information and will provide an update on the process and next steps when the Phase II Consultation Report is released in late January 2009.


Alan Dolan BSc, MSc
Senior Facilitator, Skeena Quality Waters Strategy
Alan Dolan & Associates

Anonymous said...

Dear stakeholders,

Due to the overwhelmingly large number of responses to the fall consultation process for the Skeena Quality Waters Strategy, the completion and release of the Phase II Consultation Report has been delayed until mid-February.

There will be an email notification when the report is available on the Skeena Quality Waters Strategy website.

Thanks to all of you for the incredible amount of volunteer time and energy that you have devoted to this process.


Alan Dolan BSc, MSc
Senior Facilitator, Skeena Quality Waters Strategy
Alan Dolan & Associates

rstrouts said...

My comment is a bit long for here, so see my post, "A Different Skeena AMP Alternative", at

El Pescador said...

Thanks for the link Rstrouts but I wasn't able to find your particular comment. Feel free to leave it here even if it's long.

rstrouts said...

I have sent the following to the two people who wrote Letters to the Editor in the March 2009 Flyfisherman magazine about the Skeena AMP and also Smithers and Terrace Ch of Commerce:

A Different Skeena AMP Alternative:


Footbridges Openly Free, Expand and Distribute.
Lotteries Closely Permit, Restrict and Limit.


Strategically Identify and Prioritize Footbridge Access Locations, by Watershed, to:

1 Provide Access over unwadeable waters to Public Land from Public Land
2 Make River Crossings Safer and Possible
3 Increase Recreationist Distribution to Both Sides / Reduce Crowding On One Side, Sections of River and/or Watersheds
4 Apply Maximum Environmental Sensitivity and Minimum/No Significant Impact
5 Provide Value Based/Cost Effective Footbridge Construction
6 Fund by Grants, Legislated Funding, etc.
7 Design/Engineer for Low Maintenance
8 Enable Remote Location Construction/Placement Capabilities
9 Meet Public Lead Agency Standards
10 Maximize Already Owned Public Land Instead of Private Land Purchase/Lease Costs
11 Involve No Private/Public Access Disputes
12 Elevate to Accommodate Boating Passage and/or Flood Stage Levels

Footbridge examples:
(materials cost/100' +/- length, estimated at $1000 +/-, or approximately $10/linear foot, as per visit to Home Depot. The bridge's builder replied to me that the 42' span cost around $300 and it could be built in 2 days by a couple people.) (See video at bottom of page)


I am a longtime flyfisherman who has been advocating for Public Access via footbridges here in Colorado. A couple of days ago, I read the March 2009 Flyfisherman magazine Letters to the Editor, then the Skeena Draft AMP and believe that my footbridge access concept is a reasonable alternative to the present licensing/permit/lottery alternative.

If you prefer this alternative, you may want to send the footbridge idea to the relevant Canadian Ministers, chambers of commerce, etc. I noticed that there are approximately 1300 who have signed a petition sent to the Minister of the Environment. Maybe the petitioners can be contacted again so they would also send this alternative en masse to those who are determining the outcome.

I have never visited British Columbia, however, it's my belief that this footbridge alternative can apply in your beautiful province and country and anywhere, for that matter, as shown in the videos/images and criteria described above.

If you have any questions, comments, objections or etc., please feel free to contact me or reply back to this thread as I will be reading it.

I hope this is of benefit to the British Columbia fishing experience.


Richard Strauss (rstrouts)
Denver, Coloradoslyhca

rstrouts said...

I have also sent the footbridge alternative to alan dolan, and at the speypages forum, , under the user id of rstrouts

Tim Pask said...

rstrouts, These are great ideas, but I am afraid your comments are falling on deaf ears. Several people have submitted alternatives to the current Toolbox, but none of them have been given a second look.

Like a lot of bureaucratic processes, this has taken on a life of its own, and the process has gone forward as is and without any real modifications. The only real hope we have now is that the people that live in the effected areas have made a viable case that this current plan has huge negative effects on the local economies.

This process is not about saving wild fish, its about changing a perception that was never defined to start with. It only takes a little reading to know that this ws never about managing the true resource.

With the current economic issues it would be amazing if this plan goes forward, but stranger things have happened. I for one will be glad when this is over and everyone can get back to focusing on what i consider to be much bigger issues like.

1) Enbridge Gateway Pipeline

2) Commercial netting of the estuary during peak steelhead runs.

3) Fighting to save the headwaters from the resource extraction companies (Shell Oil and others).

4) Fish Farms who are just looking for an opportunity to move back to the Skeena area.

These are real fights that require money and "feet on the streets", and if we continue to fight among ourselves we only strengthen our foes.

"El Paskador" continuing to beat this dead horse (or at least it feels that way.)

El Pescador said...

Valuable dialogue guys. It's nice to see optimism Richard and it's sad to feel the heaviness of the truth TP, especially when it's tainted with bureaucratic single mindedness. All I can offer is that you must keep fighting to keep the conversation going, even if it feels like the horse is dead. Things can change.

Tim Pask said...

El Pascador, I am a long way from giving up. In fact if this goes bad for us, myself and a bunch of other property owners will take it to another level. I haven't focused the majority of my frustration on the fact that I own a home on the Bulkley, but as a tax payer and economic supporter of the local economy it has been frustrating to have been basically blown off throughout the process. I won't bore you will all the nasty details we property owners have faced, but this is far from over from our perspective.

Now having said all of this, I do think there are some real issues that need addressed and I have a huge amount of respect for the residence, guides, and local business owners that all have a vested interest in the resource. I just think this particular process was flawed from day one and it has done nothing but divide us further apart, which in turn strengthens the very entities that wish to destroy this amazing system.

Off the soap box and back to the tying bench (where I belong).

El Pescador said...

You have a passionate interest in this TP. I can understand your frustration and hopes. Don't put the soap box away just yet.

Anonymous said...

just because you own property on the river does not give u the right to fish the river with your buddies for week after week.You are not a bc resident so if you don't like it sell your place and stay the heck away from bc.This process involved all concerned that live here and will make it a better exp. for everyone except illegal guides and people like you who think they can monopolize our rivers because we were nice enough to let you buy up all our riverfront and inflate the prop. values to levels that no one but richies can afford.

Tim Pask said...

I've heard a little of this before, and I understand your frustrations. Who knows, maybe if I was born and raised in the Bulkley Valley I would feel the same. But I doubt it, as I am more concerned about the other issues the Skeena faces today. But we each have a choice and must chose our own path.

Soon this will be over and people who care enough about wild fish will rally around trying to find a way to save them and the great river systems.

I wish I were one of the "Richies", as we are going to need loads of money to stop the Enbridge Pipeline from destroying your resource.

Anonymous said...

Nice enough to let us buy up all the riverfront properties? Are you serious Anon? Tell that to the individual “locals” who sold the property at great profit—I don’t think they were just being “nice” and “letting” non-residents purchase their land. And what, exactly, is it about these non-resident property owners that bothers you? Is it that they pay the same property taxes as you only use very little of the services they pay for? Or that a good number of them have probably contributed more time and money to protecting Skeena salmon and steelhead then the average full-time resident? (I believe nearly 80% of Skeena salmonid conservation funding comes from non-resident anglers.) Or maybe it’s the $50 million a year they pump into the local economies?

And are you prepared to tell me that river front property should only be owned by people who were born and raised in the Skeena watershed? What’s your definition of “local”? Do you become a “local” after you live there a certain amount of time? Does a person who was born and raised on the Kispiox qualify if he or she moves to the Bulkley? Is that “local?” What if they came from Burns Lake or Prince Rupert? Or for that matter, Vancouver?

Look, I am completely sympathetic to locals anywhere feeling like “their” river is being overrun by non-locals. If the tables were turned and I found crowds of Canadians filling my home river, I would certainly be bummed. And nobody—certainly not the non-resident property owners—wants to see illegal guiding hurt the licensed, legit guides. And, just so you know, I am NOT a property owner anywhere in Canada, or an illegal guide, for that matter, so I don’t have anything at stake here personally.

But I think your anger toward non-resident property owners in the Skeena region is misplaced. If you want to reduce the number of non-resident angler days on a given river, I would understand that—even though license sales already show a marked decline in non-resident angler days over the last five years. The result, of course, would massive losses of local income, and perhaps more seriously, massive losses of funding for opposition to fish destroying resource extraction. But if that’s the choice you feel the need to make, okay, I get it.

What I don’t understand is the fixation on non-resident property owners. As I mentioned above, these are tax-paying people who love the area enough to invest in it, and as such, they put incredible amounts of time and money into everything from conservation efforts to employing local tradespeople. As I also pointed out above, they only use a miniscule amount of the services they are paying for with their taxes—their kids don’t go to school locally, they only use the roads a few months a year, etc. In that respect, these are the best neighbors any tax-based community could hope for.

Also, their numbers are small, and have a negligible impact on river crowding. It seems to me that if you got rid of non-resident river front property owners, the properties would then be occupied by locals, who most likely would also want to fish the river they live on, just as you do. The net gain would be the same number of anglers, the only difference being where they were born. Or lived for the last five years. Or whatever your “local” criteria is. What does that accomplish?

On the subject of property taxes rising due to non-resident “richies,” I’m guessing we’re talking about rising property values, resulting in higher property taxes. That is definitely problematic for long-time property owners on fixed incomes, and most likely a tough situation for any homeowner in the region. But I don’t see the locals who are selling at the higher values complaining. Or if they are, they’re complaining all the way to the bank. I don’t mean to minimize the personal cost issue here—I live in a place that saw incredible rises in property values/taxes over the last 10 years, and I don’t like it either. And yes, most of the purchasers who drove up values were not “locals.” But having a home that’s worth twice what it was a few years earlier is pretty nice, and is providing some much needed cushion in the recent economic catastrophe we’re experiencing.

As an American citizen, I fully understand I am not in a position to tell anyone in another country how they ought to run things, and I apologize if it sounds like I’m ranting and raving here. I for one, just hope that the people who live in the Skeena watershed can see the value of non-resident anglers in general, if nothing more for their funding of conservation efforts (which we can all benefit from) and their support of local businesses and tax-funded services. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Skeena Quality Waters Strategy Update #8

The Phase II Consultation Report is now available for download at:

The consultation report is posted in four separate files (see below). Please note that the appendices are large files requiring a longer download time for users on dial-up connections.
1. Executive Summary Phase II Consultation Report (15 pages)
2. Phase II Consultation Report (67 pages)
3. Phase II Consultation Report Appendices A-O (263 pages) -- this is all the "raw data" and meeting summaries
4. Phase II Consultation Report Appendices P-U (62 pages) -- this is all the information and education materials produced in the consultation process plus media coverage

Please take a moment to read the message from the Honourable Barry Penner, Minister of Environment:

Over the next few weeks, the ministry will be planning two weekend meetings with the Working Groups, which will take place over the next few months. The Working Groups will be revising the draft Angling Management Plan based on the findings of the Phase II Consultation Report. Following the Working Group meetings, the revised draft Angling Management Plan will be released to the public. Then the revised draft plan will be sent to the Director of Fish and Wildlife for consideration.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Alan Dolan BSc, MSc
Senior Facilitator, Skeena Quality Waters Strategy
Alan Dolan & Associates

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone,

It has now been five months since we asked the public to provide comments on the draft Angling Management Plans as part of the Skeena Quality Waters Strategy. As each Working Group prepares to meet again this spring to revise the draft plans, I would like to provide an update on the process.

During the fall consultation period, input was received that the QWS process could be improved by additional representation from the business community. These concerns have been reviewed by the ministry and regional committee. After much discussion, it has been decided that these concerns are best addressed through modification to the working group structure to include representation from the business and tourism sectors. It is important to note that concerns were raised from the regional committee on the need to maintain resident priority within the process and final Angling Management Plans. The revised composition of the working groups will include five resident anglers (alternates will become standing members), three angling guides, one business and one tourism representative and one ministry coordinator.

To fill business/tourism positions, the ministry and regional committee will be looking for nominations or applications from interested individuals. The application form can be found on the QWS website at:

The application deadline is April 17, 2009. Individuals will be selected by the ministry and regional committee based on their local knowledge, skills and experience, bringing expertise from their respective sector to complement the working groups.

The ministry also heard that the "toolbox" for this process needs to be expanded. In response to these concerns, a review of regulatory options for this process will occur and will be presented to the working groups for consideration.

I hope that you have had a chance to review the Phase II Consultation Report. This report presents stakeholder feedback on the draft Angling Management Plans and the QWS process. It can be found at:

I would like to thank everyone for their assistance in moving this process forward -- the regional committee for its continued guidance, the working groups for their dedication, and everyone for their time and input. The need to develop Angling Management Plans in the Skeena is important and each positive step we take brings us closer to this goal.


Tom Ethier
Director of Fish and Wildlife, Ministry of Environment