The elimination of sockeye and other salmon from the upper watershed has altered the flow of marine-derived nutrients in Alouette lake. These energy flows are naturally obtained from decaying salmon carcasses and are entwined with the food webs of local wildlife, plants and aquatic species. This disruption in nutrient influxes has had substantial negative impacts on the productivity of aquatic life in Alouette Lake.
In 1991, the Bell-Cor Netpen Project was established as a joint program between BC Corrections (Alouette River Corrections Center), the BC Ministry of Environment (Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery) and BC Hydro to improve the sport fishery. The initiation of this project saw the construction of a netpen facility on the east side of Alouette Lake, about 3.5 km north of the Alouette Dam, across from Gold Creek. It is here that juvenile rainbow and cutthroat trout, provided by the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery, are raised for release into Alouette Lake. Up until the past year, manpower for the netpen operation was provided by the Alouette River Corrections Center. ARMS now administers the project on behalf of the partner group and a resident caretaker now resides in the cabin. The Fraser Regional Correctional Center now provides the manpower for maintenance of the facility.
The attached chart shows the release of various species into Alouette Lake in recent history.
Energy Project Certificate (EPC) that was issued to B.C. Hydro for the reconstruction of the Stave Falls Generation Station in 1995 included a number of legal mitigation and/or compensation conditions designed to address the impacts associated with this project. While the effects arising from this project occurred on the Stave Watershed, because of the hydraulic connectivity and the smaller size, it was recognized that the Alouette Reservoir would provide an efficient location to address some of the restorative activities. Regardless, it was clearly recognized that a need had been established to rebuild a failing fishery in the Alouette Reservoir. Modern lake scientific and chemical analyzes showed this water body to be depleted of a natural food source for fish due to the loss of marine-derived nutrients resulting from the blocking of pre-dam salmon migrations. Also, the normal system operation of this hydro reservoir is a contributing factor in depleting the natural food web over time. It became clear to the scientists, managers and ARMS that fish stocking alone would never succeed in rebuilding a sport fishery in the Alouette Reservoir.
A Pilot Fertilization Plan for the Alouette Reservoir was put forward by provincial biologists as one method to replace lost habitat capacity arising from the Stave Falls reconstruction and to BC Hydro’s great credit; this project was approved for funding by this Crown agency. BC Hydro and the agencies agreed that the condition for the long term commitment for this project (70 years, or the life of the power plant) was, that rigorous scientific analysis must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this project would be biologically and cost effective.