When I first began fishing the Lakelse River, the remains of what appeared to be some wooden steps could be seen about a hundred metres upstream of the train bridge on the right side of the river. Pioneer angler Gene Llewellyn, who first fished the upper reaches of the Lakelse over 60 years ago, told me they were all that was left of a mill once operated by Claire Gigge.
I began calling the crumbling route that led to that spot Gigge’s Road until Ron Cote, who was still working a trapline in the Lakelse Corridor at that time, read one of my columns in which I used that name and told me he thought the road was built by Hud Fisher. After that I began referring to it as Fisher Road, which seemed singularly appropriate. To reach Fisher Road, you turn off Beam Station Road approximately a click south of Herman Lake, then instead of driving the lumpy branch to the Herman’s Point parking lot, you turn east.
The road was built to access timber. It was built by men who had little understanding of the impacts roads can have on wildlife. The builders laid the road across a host of creeks that drain the land flanking Mount Herman. The importance of those diminutive arteries is in inverse proportion to their size. Most were blocked then went dry when the hydrological structure of the parts of the forest they once irrigated were altered by clear cutting. Hai Creek was large enough to command the attention of the road builders who put in an ill planned culvert that is now perched a metre above the stream bed.
The small streams that hadn’t dried up kept chewing away at the underpinnings of the road. A significant fissure appeared a kilometre in. Some folks stuck some logs in it so that trucks could cross it, even though doing so was a risky proposition. Then along came an entrepreneur who owned a Bobcat, and unilaterally decided that he would alter Fisher Road with his little hoe so that it would only accommodate ATVs so that he could then conduct and charge for ATV tours down the river. To this end he excavated huge boulders that he placed in such a way as to bar truck access. That done, this arrogant and selfish ignoramus then spent considerable time and effort bucking up large logs that blocked the road a five minute walk upstream of the railway crossing. At the end of his exertions this fool had constructed a corduroy bridge across a small, fry filled creek at the cost of plugging it totally.
Half way between the Coldwater Branch Road and the Rail Bridge, a beautiful little creek we call Secret Creek enters the river. It’s a nursery for salmon and trout fry. The bridge across it is long gone. The Bobcat operator simply cleared the fallen trees so that he could drive right through it.
So many violations to the Fisheries Act were committed by this vandal that he should have been fined mightily and had his Bobcat seized. Yet when I phoned the Ministry of Environment, a conservation officer told me that he didn’t think the guy had done anything wrong. I was about to take the issue, and the issue of the officer’s competence to both the federal and provincial ministers when the activity ceased. Andrew Williams told me the fellow had left town. Still his legacy remained. ATV traffic increased. Fish bearing creeks are now driven through on a regular basis. A hundred metre stretch of Secret Creek is now being used as the roadway.
The largest of the streams Fisher Road crosses is Herman Creek. For many years there was a substantial wooden bridge spanning it, then, about a decade ago, the perfectly sound structure was pulled due, no doubt to issues of liability. This was an extraordinarily stupid decision. With no bridge across it, fish rich Herman Creek was exposed to ATV operators who simply drove through it on a regular basis despite the illegality of doing so.
Recently a new span has been installed over Herman’s to give some timber company access to timber that should not be logged, so Herman has been give a reprieve, that is until that bridge is inevitably pulled.
The old Ministry of Forests is not part of the FLNRO conglomerate. Its powers are considerably reduced, which given the deplorable job it has done with the provincial forests, is a good thing. One of its duties now is to police ATV use. To this end it has hung up signs and nothing more.
It’s time that DFO and FLNRO joined forces to put Fisher Road to bed once and for all. ATV use needs to be banned. The Culvert at Hai Creek has to be pulled. All the damage done by the fool with the Bobcat has to be repaired. A hundred metres past the Herman Creek Crossing, the fissure I mentioned earlier needs to be widened and protected with concrete barriers so that the road and the creeks its construction compromised can be given time to heal.