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Fraser Canyon Slides & Impacts on Salmon

Fraser Canyon Slides & Impacts on Salmon

Thanks to all who attended the February 6, 2024 Fraser Landslides Research Project Year 3 Workshop — the summary report is now available!

 Photo Slides: Fraser Slides project team members hit the road in July, 2023 to discuss the project and results to-date with communities along the Fraser Canyon. The team thanks all participants for their hospitality and great conversation.

About Landslides & Salmon

As so many people saw in the fall of 2021, landslides can have serious impacts on BC's communities, infrastructure and transportation routes. Slides can also have serious impacts on waterways — such as how and where rivers flow and how passable they become following a slide. One of the most serious of such recent slides was discovered in 2019 on the Fraser River near Clinton, known as the Big Bar Slide when salmon were obstructed from moving upstream, triggering a large response effort: see background.

The project “Landslide impact on flow dynamics, fish migration and genetics of Fraser River salmon” examines how past and present slides in the Fraser River Canyon have affected river flows and migrating salmon populations.

SFU Project Website

A Fraser Landslides research site is available on the SFU website. Stay current on the research underway on landslides, canyons of concern, hydraulics and flow dynamics, and salmon migration. Visit the site!


Workshop Reports

The most recent (Year 3) workshop was held in person in Hope and online in February 2024, with lead facilitation by the Fraser Basin Council. The workshop brought together First Nations, local government and experts in the field of landslide research to discuss the latest findings in landslide impact on flow dynamics, fish migration and genetics of Fraser River Salmon.

The Year 3 (2024) workshop report is now available!

See also the Year 1 (2022) workshop report.

Project Reports

The SFU website hosts the Years 1 and 2 project reports.

Project Background

Late in 2018, a large amount of material broke away from the cliffs above the Fraser River, southwest of Clinton, BC, in a remote section of the river. The Big Bar Slide, as it was called, created a blockage in the river that significantly and negatively affected migrating salmon due to adverse water flows, and cost millions of dollars in ongoing mitigation costs. The slide was discovered in the summer of 2019, triggering response effort, including cliff stabilization and transfer of fish past the slide.

The impacts of another slide similar to the Big Bar Slide could be catastrophic. Migrating Fraser River salmon populations are at record low numbers, and another significant slide blocking migration could spell disaster for these already stressed and vulnerable salmon populations. However, the likelihood of a similar slide occurring again is unknown.

The project, “Landslide impact on flow dynamics, fish migration and genetics of Fraser River salmon” is a collaboration between academia and First Nations, and aims to understand how past and present slides in the Fraser River Canyon have affected river flows and subsequent migrating salmon populations. Analysis of past slide dynamics will be used to develop a predictive model of potential future slide activity, and may inform potential future slide response. Indigenous Knowledge holders will be engaged to assess the understanding of past slide events and their impacts on salmon migration in Fraser Canyon First Nations communities.

This three-year project aims to assess the potential and risk of another slide blocking the Fraser River, and the impact of such a slide on migrating salmon.

Fraser Landslides Infographic

Video Story - Bare Earth: Saving the Fraser River Salmon Migration

Thanks to the Hakai Institute team members who joined the Fraser Landslides Research team on the river in the summer of 2022. They are helping tell the story of saving the Fraser River salmon from the impacts of future landslides.

Project Team

Research Team

Jeremy Venditti [Principle Investigator], Elizabeth Dingle, Shawn Chartrand, Jonathan Moore, Evan Byrnes, Julia Carr, Max Hurson, Kyle Kusack, Jeff Larimer, Tingan Li, Dan Murphy, Matteo Saletti, Aaron Steelquist, Laurie Solkoski, Derya Whaley-Kalaora, Morgan Wright - Simon Fraser University (SFU)

Brian Menounos - University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)

Derek Heathfield - Hakai Institute (HI)

Gregory Owens, Ben Koop - University of Victoria (UVic)

Isaac Larsen - University of Massachusetts (UMass)

Sara Wuitchik – Mount Royal University

David Patterson, Kendra Robinson, Ben Sutherland, Mike Hawkshaw - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

Kimberly Sivak - Project Manager, SFU

Erin Seagren - Research Manager, SFU

Facilitation, Engagement and Communication Team

Greg Witzky - Fraser Salmon Management Council

Kim Menounos and Tasha Peterson - Fraser Basin Council


Water loggers on the Fraser River downstream of Hells Gate

A look at the project research in action as Fraser River water loggers (pressure sensors) downstream of Hells Gate are used to measure water depth. These were installed along the Fraser to give the project research team a better idea of the water surface elevation and flow conditions at different river discharges (e.g., how does the water surface change across a rapid). The information will help determine how fish can potentially use flow conditions to migrate past problematic areas in the canyon, such as high velocity zones. Photo: Erin Seagren, Simon Fraser University

Sharing the Results

FBC has initiated work on a partnered legacy project with the Fraser River Discovery Centre to bring the research results and data findings to the general public, both adults and youth.

The Fraser River Discovery Centre is a two-floor, hands-on interpretive centre in New Westminster that hosts rotating exhibits and programs for all ages. Watch for more information on the project!


The project team is grateful for the contributions that make the project possible.

  • Funding from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Salmon Innovation and Restoration Fund
  • In-kind support from Hakai Institute, SFU River Dynamics Laboratory, and DFO eWatch and Big Bar Slide Monitoring Program

Contact Us

Kim Menounos, Northern Interior Regional Manager
Fraser Basin Council


About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in British Columbia.

Where We Work

We are grateful to live and work on the unceded ancestral territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

Strategic Priorities

At the Fraser Basin Council, our strategic priorities are to take action on climate change, support healthy watersheds and water resources, and build sustainable and resilient communities.

With our partners, we work on a range of collaborative, multi-sector initiatives, such as those focused on flood management, community wildfire planning, air quality improvement, energy-efficient buildings, green transportation (including the uptake of electric vehicles and expansion of charging infrastructure), watershed planning and youth-driven climate action projects.

FBC Program Sites

Plug in BC:


ReTooling for Climate Change:

FBC Youth:

Climate Action Toolkit: 

Salmon-Safe BC

Realizing UNDRIP Initiative

Contact Us

FBC staff work from our Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George offices, and from several other locations.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff or contact our administration office:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350