By: Laura Keil

While the spawning salmon aren’t here yet, Krista, Chuck, Alexa and Kira Parken decided to have a picnic on the new salmon viewing platform at George Hicks Park on Monday. The family just moved to Kamloops from Vancouver Island and were on their way to Mt. Robson to show their young girls the mountain for the first time.

The new platform is part of the Swift Creek Watershed Society’s latest project to protect the creek and enhance viewing. The higher elevation means viewers can see better through the water, as there is less reflection. Bruce Wilkinson, Society President, says there was a problem with people stepping into the stream and disturbing the habitat. One woman also fell on the slippery rocks and had to be treated with first aid.

“I don’t think people did it intentionally,” Wilkinson says. “They just wanted to be closer.”

The viewing platform wood was sourced locally and is not yet finished. A chain link fence – low enough to lean on – will be added along the creek and on the viewing platform. The funding for these upgrades came from Columbia Basin Trust.

Wilkinson says they may add a bench on the platform as well.

He says he is working on getting new signage up, as the old wooden sign showing the salmon life cycle had deteriorated and fallen down.

In tandem with the viewing area upgrades is a separate project to enhance the creek banks. New rock and other solidifying materials will be added to seven more sites along Swift Creek to prevent erosion and improve salmon spawning habitat.

The Robson Valley is the furthest north on the Fraser River that salmon journey to spawn. The salmon travel roughly 1200 km from the ocean. The salmon viewing area attracts hundreds of tourists each week during salmon spawning in August and September.