Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association
In response to concerns about the degradation of the fish population and fish habitat in Bilston Creek, a group of citizens formed the Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association (B.W.H.P.A.). As a first step, the B.W.H.P.A., in association with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, conducted fish population assessments of Bilston Creek in 1990 and 1992. The results showed that a large portion of Bilston Creek was devoid of trout populations, suggesting that there was a serious water quality problem in the system. To investigate this issue, B.W.H.P.A. initiated a water quality monitoring program in 1991 which revealed significantly low levels of dissolved oxygen and exceptionally high levels of both ammonia and acidity in the middle portions of the system. The effluent from the poultry processing plant was identified as the main cause of the poor water quality.
In March of 1994, S.H.I.P. Environmental Consultants Ltd. produced a fisheries management assessment of Bilston Watershed which compiled all available information about fisheries values in Bilston Creek, including fish distributions; summarized previous sampling data for both fish and water quality; delineated watershed boundaries and floodplains, and established reach breaks. Fish migration barriers were identified, as were the distributions of populations of resident cutthroat trout that appeared to be isolated from each other. The report concluded, "that until the water quality problems in Bilston Creek were corrected, little could be done in the mainstem of the creek to enhance the fish population". It also stated that much of the mainstem habitat in Bilston Creek is of sufficient quality to support fish once the water quality problems are corrected. Several areas in the mainstem Bilston which had been modified by land owners, including a portion of channel immediately downstream of Winter Road, were identified for enhancement.
As a result of the S.H.I.P. 1994 report and more recent assessments, the Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association developed and implemented a "Bilston Creek Enhancement Plan". This plan includes on-going monitoring of both fish populations and water quality, and the development of fish habitat enhancement projects on the mainstem channel and tributaries to Bilston Creek.
Since 1994 the B.W.H.P.A. has instigated a number of habitat improvement projects. These include:
1. Martin Brook Enhancement Project, started 1994
2. Fish Ladder, upper Bilston Creek just below confluence of Bilston Creek and Martin Bk.
3. Scott's Pond, upper Bilston Creek, in the Humpback Valley.
4. Winter Road Undercut Banks, Mid Bilston Creek. Two sections completed, '96 and '97.
5. Riffles at confluence of Bilston and Firehall Creeks. Completed September 2001
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