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Saanich Peninsula elementary students help restock, clean up local creeks

Salmon fry releases took place at Reay Creek and Tetayut Creek
Chris Lee, who teaches Grade 4/5 at Keating Elementary School, said students showed great initiative in helping to clean up Central Saanich’s Tetayut Creek before their salmon release. (Chris Lee/Submitted)

Students from two local elementary schools on the Saanich Peninsula recently helped restock two local streams with salmon fry, with one group also using the occasion to help clean up a stream.

Students attending KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich spent Friday morning (May 7) releasing juvenile salmon into Reay Creek.

Students also received on-site education about invertebrates living in the creek and supplying juvenile salmon their food as well as a watershed model demonstration describing the water cycle, pollution and the watershed.

A day earlier, Keating Elementary School students released salmon fry into Central Saanich’s Tetayut Creek, but not before having done some cleanup.

Before releasing the salmon, Chris Lee took her students down to the creek a day earlier to check it out, only to discover a lot of pollution in the water and on the banks of the creek.

The discovered items included a kitchen sink, scrap metal, car parts and a lawnmower, said Lee. “They were quite concerned and about four of them went down after school that day to try to clean up the creek,” she said. After releasing the salmon, more students joined the cleanup effort.

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“They were down there until about 6 p.m.,” she said. “They kept bringing up all that scrap metal.”

By Friday, the size of the cleanup party had grown to 20 students, she added.

It is not clear who is responsible for the pollution, but students will return to the creek to help clean it up, she said.

Ian Bruce, executive director of the Peninsula Streams Society, attended both release events, which mark the conclusion of a long-running program that sees students learn about salmon in their classrooms, tracking their development from the egg phase to the fry phase.

The society then uses the occasion of the release to tell students about the larger ecological context, he added. “It’s a way to educate the kids about salmon and salmon life cycles,” he said.

In the offering for decades, the program has become a memorable part of the local education curriculum.

“I come across adults all the time who say, ‘I don’t remember anything from elementary school, but I remember doing that,’” he said.

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