Did you know that the steelhead fish is the same species as rainbow trout? The two varieties are only distinguished by their color and breeding habits. The steelhead is an endangered species in many parts of North America, and is at risk of becoming endangered in the Fraser Basin in British Columbia, Canada.
The good news is that First Nations communities, government agencies, businesses that make products from forests, and forestry professionals have come together to help the steelhead:
- Cooks Ferry Indian Band
- Secwepemc Fisheries Commission
- British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
- British Columbia Timber Sales
- West Fraser Mills
- Stuwix Resources Joint Venture, a forest management company managing forest licenses for eight First Nations Bands
With support from the Fraser Basin Council Society, these groups have formed the Thompson Steelhead Working Group (TSWG). An SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant provided financial support for TSWG. SFI is an independent, non-profit organization that provides supply chain assurances, produces conservation outcomes, and supports education and community engagement. The community component of the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program supports community groups working at the intersection of sustainable forestry, responsible procurement and thriving communities.
The goals of the collaborative TSWG are to:
- Support First Nations values related to steelhead
- Address issues of water quality, temperature, erosion, sedimentation, and management of the riparian zone (where land and water meet)
- Identify modified forest management practices that support conservation
- Gain wider commitment to steelhead recovery
- Return wild steelhead populations to levels that produce ecological, social, economic, and recreational benefits in a sustainable way
To date, TSWG has hosted multiple working sessions and given presentations to forest licensees conducting forestry operations in the Nicola, Bonaparte and Deadman watersheds. These meetings provided the opportunity to share First Nations values and the status of Thompson Steelhead, discuss existing forest management commitments and identify forest management practices that could help reverse the decline of Thompson steelhead.
To learn more about conservation and community efforts in North American forests how SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grants are making a difference, visit sfiprogram.org.