The Fraser River
In 1975 Mark Angelo, chair of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, took a trip that convinced him that the Fraser is one of the world’s greatest rivers, and no stretch is richer than the length through the Fraser Valley.
“It was my first trip down the entire length of the Fraser and I just never anticipated finding what I think is the most beautiful stretch of the river, right there, where the river runs into the most heavily populated region in the province…I was amazed.”
It was something he’s never forgotten, and which today is driving his effort to try to save the lower river from the threats of development in the rapidly growing Lower Mainland.
“I call it the Heart of the Fraser,” he said, reciting a title that has become a rallying point for a remarkable effort to save large sections of the river between Vancouver and Hope.
“Few places on Earth have such a rich, intact river system immediately adjacent to a major urban centre,” said Mr. Angelo. “The Heart of the Fraser, with its complex system of islands, gravel bars and vegetation, supports an amazing array of life. … A lot of people, if you ask them where B.C.’s single biggest salmon spawning run is, will say the Adams River. But it’s not. It’s the lower Fraser, where you get 20 million pink salmon spawning some years. I can go out there and paddle it on a weekend and see deer, bears, even cougars. Not enough people in Vancouver know what a remarkable, beautiful and wild place it is – but we’re trying to change that.”
Thirty-six years ago, Mr. Angelo paddled into the Heart of the Fraser for the first time, and fell in love with it. He says his dream now is to make sure his grandchildren have the same chance.