Salmonids in the Classroom gets reprieve

A federally-funded program that teaches school children about the life cycle of the salmon has won a one-year reprieve.

Terri McClymont, who holds the contract to deliver Salmonids in the Classroom in Prince George and Vanderhoof, said she received verbal confirmation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Tuesday.

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The move comes roughly a week after DFO had said the program will be eliminated as part of a refocusing for its salmon enhancement program, prompting a public uproar across the province.

"This is a direct result of emails, letters, petitions and messages to media from you and your students," McClymont said in a letter to teachers. "This is a massive accomplishment in one week!"

McClymont had hoped for more than a reprieve "but it gives us time to continue our support and to emphasize our need for a long term commitment from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans."

The program has run in B.C. for about 40 years.

The about-face should also be welcome news for the Spruce City Wildlife Association.

In an email sent prior to the latest news, SCWA president Steve Hamilton said the permit for the SCWA's hatchery was based on supplying the salmon fry for the program.

However, another salmon enhancement program remains in jeopardy. DFO is phasing out its resource restoration unit and will not be renewing contracts for fisheries specialists who provide technical support to volunteers working to restore salmon-bearing streams.

"Removal of the resource restoration unit will take away desperately needed guidance for projects, projects like McMillan and Parkridge Creek restorations, streams right here in the area that support salmon returns," Hamilton said.

He urged supporters to make their opinions known to the federal government.

"We can change this, and ensure that conservation for future generations continues," Hamilton said.

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