Símpcwemc have utilized their territory (approximately 5 million hectares) from time immemorial and are recognized as “People of the River”. The North Thompson River watershed is largely encompassed within Simpcwúl̓ecw and is a large migration corridor for both fish and wildlife species. Símpcwemc have actively hunted and fished within the watershed and Pacific salmon species (sqlélten) have served as a staple food source. However, due to several factors, returning stocks have dwindled to a point at which cultural harvests are no longer permissible. The goal is to one day see the return of healthy salmon stocks where future generations can continue with the ceremonies of cultural harvests.
Archaeological surveys have revealed historical presence of Símpcwemc in Louis Creek, unearthing winter sites and cache pits. Today, salmon are celebrated by the Símpcwemc, through community events such as Coho day and the Raft River First Fish Ceremony. Furthermore, the nation actively works to protect the integrity of fisheries, with ongoing stream walks, red surveys, selective fish harvesting, and many other programs ran through the Dunn Creek Hatchery.
In 2001, a restoration Project was undertaken on Louis Creek to increase the health of salmon populations and habitat following disturbance from agricultural activities. The study results revealed that long term, post-restoration studies would be required to observe a change in salmon habitat. Further, subsequent studies resulted in low catch per unit effort of fish in Louis Creek. As such, the Símpcwemc hope to undertake additional restoration and remediation works within Louis Creek to improve fish habitat and spawning returns.
Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) is a standard for aquatic and fish habitat mapping in BC. The primary goal of SHIM is to identify and inventory watercourses, their associated riparian habitat and important fish habitat features. SHIM results act as a tool to guide future remediation / restoration opportunities, development Projects, and facilitate conservation. As such, SHIM was identified as an ideal methodology to identify the most disturbed sites where works should be undertaken within Louis Creek.
Simpcw, Secwepemc Fisheries Commission and Estsék’ worked alongside Ecoscape Environmental Consultants Ltd. (Ecoscape) to preform a SHIM assessment on Louis Creek in the fall of 2022. The goal was to determine the status and condition of the system and to identify potential candidate sites for future stream restoration activities. Priority sites selected for restoration were identified where fish habitat was available and/or observed, but being impacted by cattle, agricultural activities, or where fish habitat was available, but a barrier precluding year-round access for all species and life stages.
Stream habitat restoration works, starting as soon as summer 2023, will be undertaken in various locations along Louis Creek where the SHIM identified habitat enhancements having a net benefit to fish and / or fish habitat. The goal is to not only enhance in-stream
habitat, but also protect and manage for its current use by salmonids.