The City of Fernie is backing a project proposal that will provide the communities of the Elk Valley with information and resources to keep the Elk River healthy.
The Elk River Alliance (ERA), in partnership with Lotic Environmental, is working with a number of local scientists on a project titled ‘Reporting to Residents on River Health.’ Fernie mayor and council will be drafting a letter of support to assist the ERA with their request for grant funding for the venture.
“It’s an application to Columbia Basin Trust to provide funds to establish a baseline of where the watershed is today,” explained Doug Marteinson with the ERA. “What does it look like, what is impacting its health, or what is doing good for its health. With the idea being that once there’s a baseline picture of the watershed, then it will be much easier in the future to make decisions about what needs to happen.”
Marteinson went on to say, “The Elk River Alliance is working to ensure that the Elk River watershed is drinkable, fishable, and swimmable for years into the future. In my interpretation, it’s completely aligned with the notion of Forever Fernie and input into the Official Community Plan. We’d really like to see not just the City of Fernie be active in it, but also Sparwood and Elkford and Elko.”
Although several organisations have worked on various elements of the Elk River over the years, Marteinson believes the information gathered hasn’t been properly compiled or shared. “We want to report back to the citizens of Fernie in language that is easily understood and supported by simple graphics that are easy to understand,” he said.
Members of the ERA spoke at a Fernie council meeting held on October 22 to explain the project and ask for the City’s help. Council was unanimous in voting to support ‘Reporting to Residents on River Health.’
“The river is our lifeblood. It runs right through our community, runs right through all the communities of this valley,” stated Councilor Randal Macnair. “I think that folks like the ERA and local jurisdictions have to step up to the plate and make sure that the health of our river is continued.”
In conjunction with the project, the ERA will be forming an advisory board within the next year to assist in monitoring the state of the watershed.