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History of the Alouette Watershed

Historical timeline of the Alouette Watershed

The earliest known inhabitants in the Alouette Watershed were Douglas-Lillooet and the Katzie First Nation. (http://www.katzie.ca). The Southern Lower Mainland lakes and forests were their traditional hunting and fishing grounds. Alouette Valley was a favourite because of easy access and abundance of natural resources.

History of the Alouette River Watershed1891 – Construction of two dykes north of Lillooet River (later renamed the North and South Alouette River) began. The dykes are known as Pitt Meadows Number One and Number Two Dyking Districts. Due to poor engineering the dykes were inadequate, 1984 floods rose over the dykes and breached them in several places.

1908 – Mr. J.J Wilson, Hammond, Officer of Fisheries Department (federal), said “a power dam would have the effect of drying up the lower Lillooet River [Alouette River now], with the result that the steelhead and bastard sockeye could not ascend to the lakes to spawn. He believed if licenses were issued to the applicant, Western Canada Power Company, by the province, the result would be disastrous.

1909 – A provincial license was granted to an applicant for utilizing a flow of 700 Cubic feet per second (CSF) in perpetuity, for hydroelectric purposes. The license was not  used and became dormant.

History of the Alouette River Watershed1911 – Stave Dam was built. See:
http://www.bchydro.com/recreation/mainland/mainland5361.html
http://www.mission.museum.bc.ca/milestones-stave.html

1915 – Lillooet River and Lake was officially renamed the Alouette River and Lake on March 31.

1923 – The dormant license had passed into new ownership, The BC Electric Railway Company, who wished to construct a dam on Alouette Lake and a tunnel connecting Alouette Lake and Stave Lake/Reservoir to bring water to their Stave Generating Station.
(for BC Hydro history http://www.bchydro.com/info/history/history1027.html)

History of the Alouette River Watershed1924 – Clearing for the Alouette dam site and preliminary dam construction started.

1925 – A provincial interim order was approved to construct the Alouette River dam without any provisions for, fish bypassing this obstruction, a minimum downstream flow, or flood control.  A complete obstruction to upstream migration of salmon occurred which remains to date.

1926 – Abernathy and Lougheed Logging Company (ALLCO), was termed the largest “railway” logging company in “ British Commonwealth” followed the construction of the dam.
For more see http://www.mkrf.forestry.ubc.ca/general/history.htm

1927 – All seven species of salmon (Coho, Chum, Chinook, Pink Sockeye, Steelhead) and Cuthroat trout, were in abundance before the dam was built, were either detrimentally affected, or extirpated by low flows coupled with the obstruction of the dam, which prevented salmon from migrating to their natal historic range, above the dam. Sockeye required the lake for their first year and they were the first to become extinct. Chinook were next, as the Gold Creek tributary, above the dam, was not accessible and this was their preferred spawning stream.  In 1960 Pinks were extirpated too, but this was mainly due to gravel mining in the lower river for road and construction aggregates.

History of the Alouette River Watershed1931 – A major fire was sparked and burned out of control for more than a month which ending logging in the area.

1932 – Golden Ears was acquired as park land and included in the boundaries of neighboring Garibaldi Park.
See http://www.env/gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/golden.html

1935 – ALLCO Infirmary (provincial government) took over the old logging office site which provided a humane residence for elderly or disabled men (mainly first World War Veterans) with little means of supporting themselves.

1950’s – Maple Ridge Rod and Gun Club contacted their MLA, B.C Electric Railway Co. and the provincial government in Victoria asking for more flows in the river, or some form of flow release from the dam. They were concerned that the low river flows were killing steelhead, or at least not allowing a healthy spawn to take place. No heed was given to their request.

History of the Alouette River Watershed1955 – A Flood resulted in a partial dam failure. In Maple Ridge Park (232nd bridge crossing) water reached six feet high on the trees in the Park.

1962 – On March 29, 1962, Royal Assent was given to the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority Act, All Water Licences held by the BC Electric were transferred to the new Crown Corporation BC Hydro. The Alouette river and issues surrounding flows were now a direct government responsibility.

1967 – Golden Ears Park designated as separate park from Garabaldi on December 14th, since then Golden Ears Park has developed into one of the most desirable (defined by numbers of visits) for camping and day-use locations in the province.

1969 – Geoff Clayton joined the Rod and Gun club and wrote Minister of Energy, Ray Williston requesting a minimum flow agreement be negotiated with BC Hydro.

1971 – A minimum flow agreement was reached between DFO and BC Hydro for 2 cubic feet per second (cf/s) supplied from a low level outlet pipe which ran under the dam.

1979 – ALLCO Hatchery was developed as an inmate work program through the Alouette River Correctional Centre.

1985 – Over 3000 pink salmon returned to Alouette River.

1993 – Alouette River Management Society was formed as a non-profit organization to, amoung other environmental issues, negotiate with BC Hydro for an increase in water flow to this dying river.

1995 – Flood due to heavy rains and power outage, very devastating, properties destroyed.  Interim river release flow negotiated with BC Hydro which increased flows from 2 cf/s to  70 cf/s.

1996 – A final agreement was reached with BC Hydro to increase the flow in the river from the Reservoir to full LLO pipe capacity, averaging 92 cf/s.  This Water Use Plan, the first in British Columbia,  provided a monitoring program to determine the affects of this flow increase  This was set at $50,000 annually.

2006 – Ten year review of Alouette Water Use Plan was reached in March. It has yet to be sent to, or approved by, The BC Water Comptroller in Victoria. The new WUP allows for monitoring programs of approximately $200,000 per annum.  The WUP will be reviewed in 2014 when the Stave WUP is up for review.

July 2007 – Sockeye salmon return to the Alouette River after an 80 year absence.