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Coquitlam River still in danger

The Coquitlam River is back on the list of the province's most endangered rivers.

The Coquitlam River is back on the list of the province's most endangered rivers.

The Outdoor Recreation Council announced its annual list of top 10 rivers at risk from industrial and residential development, which was topped by the Sacred Headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers and the Kokish River on Vancouver Island. Coalbed methane and other mining proposals threaten the Sacred Headwaters while a controversial run-of-river power project may threaten the Kokish River salmon runs.

The Coquitlam River placed 10th on the list because of continued sedimentation from nearby gravel pits and encroaching urban development.

"We all know the river gets very silty from the gravel mines and that's not a good thing," said Elaine Golds, chair of the Burke Mountain Naturalists (and a columnist for The Tri-City News), "and it's continually threatened by the impacts of urban development."

The BMN group nominated four rivers for the endangered rivers list; in addition to the Coquitlam, they also suggested the Kokish, the Kitimat River and the Peace River, all of which are on the list.

Golds said development proposals, particularly at the north end of Shaughnessy Street and near the David Avenue bridge, where there is mature forest protecting the river, will further damage the Coquitlam.

The Coquitlam's ranking at the bottom of the endangered list keeps it in the same spot as last year. It's also down from the number six spot, usually out of about 10 rivers, since 2006.

Golds said the formation of the Coquitlam River Roundtable is a good sign, as is the trickle of kokanee that has been returning to the river.

"Ideally, what we'd like to see is the turbidity entering the river stopped," she said. "But until people have a good understanding of where it's coming from and why and how much, it's hard to take action."

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