Category Archives: Sustainability

Another Coho Smolt Kill on Byrne Creek, Burnaby, BC

I got a call from City of Burnaby staff today that people were reporting dead fish in Byrne Creek. Sure enough, yet another first-flush road-wash coho kill.

coho smolt kill byrne creek burnaby bc
This is how the creek was running during the rain on Monday. Photo by volunteer Joan.

We released 3,700 coho smolts last Thursday. It rained Monday, and the creek was running awfully dirty. I will add a photo by another volunteer of the dirty creek.

This has been happening for many years on Byrne Creek. We pray for no rain following a coho smolt release, because if road wash enters the creek while the coho are still in the system, they die by the hundreds.

Recent research by Dr. Jen McIntyre at Washington State University points to a chemical in tires that is toxic particularly to coho.

I met a City staffer for a walkabout. I counted four or five dozen dead smolts beteween the sediment pond and the downstream side of Byrne Bridge.

There were several happy herons about, and with this kill likely occuring Monday/Tuesday, probably dozens if not hundreds of dead smolts had been scarfed already. Mother Nature’s cleanup crew is fast and efficient!

Aquatic Bug Survey on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

A small group of Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers sampled four sites in the creek for aquatic bugs in SE Burnaby, BC, today. Such surveys give us an indication of the water quality.

We kept everything outdoors, and limited to just a handful of volunteers.

While we haven’t tallied the numbers yet, I’d guess from what we were observing that the ratings will be pretty low. Our bug counts tend to be poor and our bugs tiny on this creek in a highly urbanized wateshed.

byrne creek streamkeepers bug count burnaby bc

Surpassed 1,000 Observations Reported to iNaturalist

I passed 1,000 observations reported to iNaturalist today, with 232 species so far.

I think this puts me at the Pee-Wee or Bantam level 🙂. I know some folks who post hundreds per week!

I have to shoot, and learn about, more plants and flowers etc. The bulk of my observations are birds and mammals, with the occasional insect or reptile. . .

You can see my contributions here.

Good Enviro Book: Changing Tides by Alejandro Frid

For my fishy friends, and anyone who cares for our beleaguered environment:

Just finished Alejandro Frid’s book Changing Tides: An Ecologist’s Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene.

Excellent work based on his experiences as an ecologist working with First Nations on the BC coast, integrating traditional knowledge with Western science.

With his own research into fewer fish, smaller fish, and overexploitation of marine and coastal resources, Frid maintains a positive outlook that humans can change and collaborate for a better future.

Changing TV Habits – Less Violence, More Life

Our TV habits have changed over the last year.

For years we were heavily into all the NCISes, Hawaii Five 0s, etc. Haven’t watched any of those for a year or more.

Don’t miss them.

We’ve been watching a lot more nature shows over the last year. Many on TV Japan. Mind-blowing videography and research featuring weeks, months, and years spent observing species of wildlife.

We watch happy/goofy Japanese shows on multi-generational families. Not dramas, real families.

A washi papermaker who is the 13th generation at his craft. . . A potter who is in the seventh generation of trying over and over and over to replicate a long-lost style of pottery.

We watch slow-paced series on travel in Japan that focus on regional and local arts, and crafts, and food. Travel by train, travel by bicycle. . . And always amazing food, lovingly grown, cooked, and presented. . .

We watch “Somewhere Street,” a Japanese show in which a crew visits famous cities around the world and documents major historic and tourist attractions, food, music, nightlife. . .

It’s people. It’s nature. It’s life.

And it’s beautiful.

Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Runs Milky Again

During my pre-lunch south Burnaby ramble, I noticed that Byrne Creek was running milky blue again. I called it in to City of Burnaby Environmental. This has happened several times over the last couple of months. Sigh. . .

UPDATE: Staff traced to construction site. It is illegal to pump out construction sites into street drains without remediation/filtration. Thank you for the swift response, and thanks to others who apparently reported this, too!

All Drains Lead to Habitat!

milky byrne creek burnaby bc

When Your Product Sells Itself

Our consummately professional and constantly bantering Toyota saleswoman contacted us to wish us a happy new year and let us know that she’d love to discuss new-car-smell options with us 🙂.

We have a RAV4 Hybrid, and it’s been a solid vehicle with a combo of AWD, phenomenal pep, super gas mileage particularly in town where the electric drive gets the most use, and perfect reliability.

Just out of curiosity we asked about the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid version that can run on electricity only for about 70km before the hybrid gas/electric system kicks in.

She laughed and said, “you can give me a deposit on a RAV4 Prime today, and you can expect delivery in two to three years.” She wasn’t kidding. . .

Apparently they can’t get enough of them and have long waiting lists.

Enviro-Friendly Car Wash for New Year

Started out the New Year with an environmentally friendly car wash.

We wash our car about three or four times a year, usually at a commercial wash that recycles/filters water.

Today I just backed it out of the garage into the drizzle, wetted it down, used a wetted soft cloth to gently wipe away dirt, and used two gallons of our emergency water to rinse off.

No soap, zero environmental impact. All drains lead to habitat!

And refreshed water in some of our emergency stock. . .

Emulate Your Grandmom’s Generation For a Few Weeks, Eh?

In these tough Covid times, let’s remember that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents went through wars, destitution, starvation, and starting new lives literally living in holes in the ground in what is now western Canada.

Too many of us have no clue about the sacrifices made by so many to get us to where we are today.

There was no telephone, for most no radio, no TV, of course no Internet, no cell phones. . .

And no grocery stores or supermarkets. So what are we all bitching about?

How soft and entitled have we gotten in a few generations?
Can we not all collectively sit on our asses for a couple of weeks, wear masks in public, and get this done?

Spawner Patrol Orientation on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had a spawner patrol orientation today in SE #Burnaby, BC, to show some new volunteers the area that we patrol.

Due to human intervention and ongoing development, the area in which salmon spawn on Byrne Creek is limited. It can be covered on foot in about an hour.

Salmon usually start returning to spawn on Byrne Creek around mid-October, and we weren’t disappointed, spotting three in the sediment pond, all likely coho.

There’s nothing like seeing these majestic fish in an urban area to get volunteers inspired and reinvigorated. This is my favourite time of the year, as I try to get out on on the creek as many times as I can, sometimes three or four times as week, as work and other commitments allow.

Volunteer streamkeepers have training from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the City of Burnaby, to patrol the creek and enumerate spawners.

Please, if you see salmon, maintain a respectful distance, do not walk in the creek, and keep dogs leashed. The eggs the fish lay in the creek won’t hatch until spring, so it’s important to stay out of the creek.