The Skeena River is approaching seasonal levels following November rains that ended two months of a Level 4 drought.
“The good news is it’s outside that historic low now, tracking at about the 25th percentile…or two-thirds the normal flow for this time of year,” says a spokesperson at the River Forecast Centre.
In late October several tributaries were still either dry or at crisis levels, sparking fear for the ability of salmon to reach their spawning grounds. On multiple occasions Skeena flow volumes fell below all-time records since data was first kept in 1928, down to the 1.19 percentile of historically observed data.
The drought was downgraded to a Level 3 Nov. 8.
Greg Knox, president of the SkeeaWild Conservation Trust, says he is glad to see the levels in both the Skeena and its tributaries to be near seasonal norms, but adds it won’t be until spring before it’s known how well the salmon fared.
“Up high, a lot of the precipitation fell as snow,” he said. “But what we need up there is rain, so it can seep underground and keep feeding the streams when things start to freeze up.”
He says low levels allowed for greater predation of the salmon, a lot of which also suffered stress while remaining in the Skeena much longer than normal before levels allowed passage up the tributaries to their spawning grounds.
“The added stress means the success of their spawning could have been lowered,” he says.