Thursday, 9 February 2017

Unless It Is Cherished...

"Unless it is cherished, the glory of the Nipigon may fade and the story of its marvelous attractions may become a tradition of the past"
This cry of alarm came from an American Fisherman named McDonough in 1888.
Yet, if you check out PEW's "Forest of Blue" document  wherein they discovered all our wonderful water in the Canadian Boreal Forest, you will see they have relegated Lake Nipigon to a reservoir and our river barely discernible!!
Our Living Heritage, the Glory of the Nipigon, the book, shows how that call was and still is being answered.
The Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee had this book put together by John M. Kelso and James W. Demers in 1993. It shows that throughout the past century ..."there was ample evidence that the glory of the Nipigon and its abundant life were cherished by those who lived near her, those who put the great river to the service of man and those who found her sporting charms irresistible."
" This is a success story. The story of a people, of industry, of science, of government who have answered the call to be guardians of one of the world's richest treasures. It tells of our first people, reflects the birth and growth of a nation, and offers the world a model of man and nature serving and affecting on another."
And PEW calls us a reservoir!
We have three power dams on the Nipigon River. They do use the water from Lake Nipigon. The Ogoki Diversion dam sends water to Lake Nipigon that would have gone to Hudson's Bay. 
The Nipigon River System
"The Nipigon River drains Lake Nipigon, with its large tertiary watershed; 32,129 square kilometres of land and water surface including the Ogoki Diversion." (1943).
" The River flows south for about 51 kilometres (32 miles) from Lake Nipigon to Lake Superior, through a gorge that follows a geological fault. Along its course the river drops 75 meters (250 feet) in elevation, cutting through Precambrian red sandstones, with their flat caps of volcanic diabase, in its precipitous descent."
"At one time falls and rapids punctuated 16 kilometres (10 miles) of its route. The river is now characterized by lakes that alternate with turbulent stretches. The largest of the lakes, Lake Helen, differs in that it is not formed (or re-formed) by a dam. The river flows through only the southern corner of the lake, which extends northward as a cul-de-sac."
'The Nipigon River is the largest tributary, in terms of discharge, of Lake Superior. Along with the lake's other major tributaries, the shallow near-shore areas, which in this case are in Nipigon Bay, and the mouth of the river play important roles in the lake's ecosystem. These areas are biologically productive, support a different complex of species than the deeper, colder waters of the open lake, provide important sources of nutrients, and are essential nursery and spawning habitat for a range of fish species. "
"The river has been noted for its abundant fishing as far back as we can trace. This abundance is more properly attributed to seasonal concentrations of spawning or migrating fish than to the intrinsic productivity of the river. The number of species that made up the early (pre-1890) fish communities of the Nipigon River would have been fewer than today, and they would have been determined by two major factors: post-glacial colonization and habitat suitability."
"Descriptions from the late 1800's focus on brook trout and their favourite food, the cockatouch (commonly called sculpins today); they also refer to lake trout, whitefish, and northern pike in all the major sections of the river" - Hewitt, E.R.  1948  A trout and salmon fisherman for seventy-five years. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York , 33pp
"By 1902 walleye (or pickerel) and suckers, in addition to northern pike were being removed as nuisance fish." - Fourth Annual Report of the Fisheries Branch of the Province of Ontario for 1902
"Other species are known to have occurred in the system below Alexander Falls. These include burbot and lake sturgeon, which were common in Steamboat Bay (Lake Helen) until the 1920's and tullibee and "blue pickerel" (probably sauger)." - Wilson, L. 1991  Nipigon Walleye Historical Review.
  • 1930 Walleye = the most abundant fish on the river
  • 1950 Local residents report excellent walleye fishing
  • 1956 Thousands of walleye noted in the lower Nipigon during May; 1000 tagged
  • 1957 Estimated walleye population in the Nipigon River spring spawning run to be 22,000 individuals; fall estimate in Nipigon Bay was 41,000.
  • 1958 During 1955 - 1958, 2200 walleye were tagged with 397 recaptured indicating the possible migration routes and spawning locations.
  • 1959 Walleye were common but not abundant enough to provide numbers for tagging.
  • 1961 Walleye were scarce on the Nipigon River spawning grounds.
  • 1965 Crash of Black Bay Walleye population.
  • 1975 Compared with peak years the commercial walleye catch in Lake Superior is down 88 -100% (Schneider and Leach, 1977)
  • 1978 An attempt to re-introduce walleye began with the deposition of walleye eggs into the Jackfish River.
  • 1984 Commercial fishing of walleye was closed in Nipigon Bay.
  • 1986 Adult walleye stocking program began in Nipigon Bay.
  • 1989 The Nipigon Bay, the Nipigon River, and the Jackfish River were closed to walleye angling year round to assist rehabilitation efforts.
Adapted from A Chronological Review of the Stresses Affecting the Fisheries in Nipigon Bay, Lake Superior: Wilson 1991
That was the timeline of Hate turning to Love.
Today , 2012, the Nipigon Bay RAP,PAC is busy rehabilitating spawning grounds threatened by fluctuating water levels  and putting the meander back in some streams straightened by the CPR and or CNR.
B. Brill, 2012 essay

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