Don McEachern and QISES' legacy


A few days ago I had the pleasure of sipping java at Cafe Aroma with Don McEachern, leafing through a pile of articles and archival treasures about the early days at QISES. As a veritable newcomer to the island, salmon enhancement isn't in my visceral memory like it is in Don's.

For weeks I've been asking various QISES people about the way things were back in the early days, and every one of them at some point would shake their heads and say, 'You'd better ask Don.'


Don working in Village Bay Creek building a fish fence

So I did. And I learned some pretty interesting things about the early days when funding was available and the hatchery was raising baby salmon. Photos like the one above attest to the scale of work carried out by people eager to restore stream courses and make them attractive once again from a salmon's viewpoint! 

One of the questions I asked Don concerned the legacy of salmon enhancement. Today visitors and residents who recreate on Village Bay Lake and the Main Lake Chain do so in an environment free of motorized boat traffic. An outboard restriction – still a challenge point for some – has been in effect for over fifteen years, the direct result of efforts by QISES, many local residents, and two thirds of the Village Bay Lake population. It took a year to finalize the restriction, put in place during the Official Community Plan of 1996. But the result has been a lasting one, benefitting residents and maintaining salmon habitat in Village Bay Lakes.

Another piece of QISES' legacy evolved in the 1990s during the NDP's tenure in BC. When local resident Alex Hartford was applying for a woodlot, the setback on fish bearing streams was 30 meters. The setback on Alex's woodlot was instead 100 meters, a full 70 meters more than the law required. A precedent was thus set on Quadra, supported by ForestWatch who worked to bring logging companies on the island into compliance with the new setback standards.

What this brings home to me is that salmon exemplify what it means to be a part of a bigger web of life. What benefits a salmon generally benefits everything around – from streams and lakes to forests and oceans, plus the animals and humans who live there. Taking better care of these great fish means we inevitably take better care of ourselves and this one habitat we all share.

Thanks to Don and the many, many people who've been part of QISES over the years – you've helped make Quadra a better place!

Robyn Budd