Extent of damage from B.C. landslide becoming clearer after flyover
VICTORIA -- A massive glacial landslide that sent debris toward Bute Inlet on B.C.’s northwest coast has destroyed an already at-risk habitat, a local First Nation says.
Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney said the slide wiped out the coho salmon habitat in the inlet.
“All the gravel that was there for the chum washed away, so it lost a lot of chum-spawning areas,” he said.
“Certainly, it will affect our food security, with the chum stocks in decline. Southgate (River) was one of the more productive rivers in our territory. It’ll have an impact for sure.”
Blaney is looking at rebuilding the habitats in the river system, but is concerned more slides could happen.
“With the glaciers retreating, it will create more slides and (we have to) prepare ourselves for that as well,” he said.
Helicopter pilot Bastian Fleury has been flying over the area and studying the slide. On Thursday, he flew to the top of the Homathko icefield to take a closer look.
“It was just a mountain peak and now it is cut in half,” he said. “It came probably fast down that slope and down into the lake.”
Fleury believes the slide happened above the glacier.
It may take some time before government agencies can get into the area to fully assess the damage.
"It's a very remote area,” Fleury said. “It's about 45 minutes’ flight from Campbell River, so it's not just next door.”
Blaney said there is one cabin near the slide, but otherwise it is an area primarily used for fishing and logging.