Lillooet First Nation blocks work it says could threaten salmon runs on Seton River
LILLOOET – Members of a First Nation in Lillooet have set up a blockade near the Fraser River district to protest work they believe is destroying fish habitat on disputed land.
Sekw’el’was Chief Michelle Edwards says the blockade on Cayoose Creek, at the mouth of the Seton River, on Lillooet’s southern outskirts, began at 7 a.m. Friday.
There’s no indication when it could be removed, but Edwards says traffic on nearby Highway 99 is not affected and members are only halting hired contractors at the work site.
She says the District of Lillooet has fast-tracked construction of a water intake on land claimed by the Sekw’el’was, although it knows the project will be appealed to the provincial Environmental Appeal Board.
Edwards says damage is not yet irreversible, but warns the work has the potential to wipe out spawning beds and incubating eggs in a section of Cayoose Creek used by coho, steelhead, chinook, pink, sockeye and bull trout.
She says many First Nations along the Seton and Fraser rivers rely on those salmon runs and, as caretakers of the watershed, the Sekw’el’was must protect the fish.