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Replacing plugged-up culverts produces record salmon numbers in Langley creek

Largest counts in West Munday Creek in 20 years
A salmon splashes in Langley’s West Munday Creek, thanks to the Township fixing five plugged culverts earlier this summer (Marlee St. Pierre/special to Langley Advance Times)

Coho and chum salmon have returned to Langley’s West Munday Creek in record numbers, thanks to the Township of Langley decision to replace five old culverts that were impeding their passage.

Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society volunteer Marlee St. Pierre counted 16 in one day in West Munday, where it runs between 208th Street and 88th Avenue. In several places there were also small jacks or trout hanging around, she noted.

“We’re all really excited,” St. Pierre told the Langley Advance Times.

Sheryl Moore spotted “three beautiful spawning chum” where the creek runs behind Walnut Grove secondary.

READ MORE: Culvert design aimed at saving salmon in Langley Township

In 20 years of counting, society president Nat Cicuto said it was the most he has ever seen in West Munday.

“And the run isn’t over,” he noted.

Cicuto said the Township originally planned to replace just two culverts along West Munday this summer, but then found three more that needed to come out.

They were so badly blocked, salmon could only get past when run-off was high enough for them to bypass the culverts, Cicuto explained.

“They had to get around and over them.”

It’s the latest step forward in a continuing campaign to bring salmon back to Langley waterways that used to be spawning grounds.

READ ALSO: Langley’s environmental heroes honoured

A first step was marked in December of 2004, when a culvert at Highway 1 was unplugged, allowing 16 salmon to make it into Willoughby for first time in three decades.

That was the result of lobbying by the society to have the provincial ministry of highways, federal department of fisheries and the Township fix the blockage.

As well, a new salmon-friendly bridge was built on 84th Avenue, just east of Yorkson Creek Middle School.

The design has since been mimicked at 86th Avenue.

Yorkson Creek and its two major tributaries, West Munday and East Munday Creeks, flow through Walnut Grove and Willoughby, draining 20 square kilometres of land into the Fraser River.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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