The priority initiative for the Rivers Institute is to protect the gravel reach of the Fraser River, also known as the ‘Heart of the Fraser,’ from habitat loss resulting from industrial development, agricultural expansion and urban encroachment. The gravel reach from Hope to Chilliwack is unique to the entire 1,375 km Fraser River ecosystem and is critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids and threatened white sturgeon.
From a fluvial geomorphic perspective, the five main islands in the gravel reach (Herrling, Carey, Strawberry, Paulson and Minto Islands) are floodplain islands that provide essential fish habitat at various times of the year. These floodplain islands are functionally an extension of the river bed and are continually eroded and re-formed by natural fluvial processes, hence, there is no intensive land use compatible with maintaining the ecological integrity of these islands.
Currently, the Rivers Institute, BC Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Recreation Council of BC and Watershed Watch are exploring strategies and options to protect these islands in perpetuity, including purchase at assessed value.
Heart of the Fraser
The Heart of the Fraser is a photo-essay book and documentary about the impacts from the continued agricultural, industrial and commercial development on the prime spawning locations of the Fraser River.
Soul of the Fraser
The Soul of the Fraser is the sequel to the Heart of the Fraser, and focuses on the estuary, the most ecologically sensitive and threatened ecosystem in the entire Fraser River.