Community driven projects and improving outcomes
By Tamara Spence, Sports and Recreation Editor
Conservation of our natural resources and wildlife has always been a hot topic for anyone who lives an outdoor lifestyle. We are fortunate enough to have many active members in our community that push to advance our area and the priceless resources that we have here in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. It’s not hush-hush that we reside in a hot spot for countless angling opportunities and as a result, we need to be conscious of our human footprint in the natural process of order – which is exactly what the North Shore Steelhead Association aims to do in our Lake Superior tributaries.
The North Shore Steelhead Association, a local nonprofit organization, was founded in 1973 to address the preservation and maintenance of Lake Superior tributaries; more importantly, to encourage the propagation of steelhead (rainbow trout) and additional cold-water fish. This process includes rehabilitation and conservation of our rivers and streams.
Enhancements to our current structures have been made over the years by the NSSA, in spots that are so close to home that you can literally pick up your rod and walk downtown or within the city to catch fish. Improvements that are carried out through the NSSA aim to maintain the integrity but also to improve existing conditions. Projects such as refining spawning beds, fish ladder production and development/naturalizing of wading pools are some of the projects that are taken on by the hard working volunteers and conservationists.
One spot of interest is in the heart of our North side downtown core: McVicar Creek. Chances are you have cruised by in the spring and there were people jumping with joy with a fish that was the size of a small child (likely returned back to the water if I know our local anglers well). Additionally if you take a walk by the fish ladder while the spring steelhead spawning run is in full swing, you can visibly watch the trout leap up the inclines as they make their way up the creek in hopes to spawn. These moments can be appreciated over generations and will continue to do so because of the work and effort of members of the NSSA and local anglers.
In 2009, a restoration of a larger wading pool (a resting pool for fish travelling up stream) located down from Court Street took place. Boulders became loose from their cable structure and a rather large one had traveled an estimated fifteen meters down the creek that has caused the pool to lose twenty inches of its average depth. That being said, restoration needed to be fast acting to ensure that sufficient depth was obtained so the population of spawning rainbow trout (steelhead) could effectively have the room to travel and make their way upstream. With a rented boom the boulder was returned safely to its original stomping grounds unharmed. This, however, was not the first improvement to this creek; the pool itself was created in the late 1980s/early 90s to improve migratory harmony.
There are many noteworthy projects that the NSSA have worked on but when it comes down to it, projects such as these could not be done without the assistance and donations from members and the support from our community. These projects promote conservation of our tributaries and propagation of our natural cold-water fish species. All donations to the NSSA go to projects in our area and increase our angling opportunities for future generations.
Want to do your part in conservation and preserve our resources, or perhaps looking to just get out and volunteer to increase the diversity of your CV? Why not become a member of the North Shore Steelhead Association and see what our fisheries have to teach you. For more information on membership or to make a donation to this great cause, you can head over to Northshoresteelhead.com