We have lived and worked in the Desolation Sound area for over 44 years and are founding members of the Desolation Sound Salmon Enhancement Project, tasked for 20 years by DFO, to restock and rehabilitate some local waterways. In response to information regarding a prosed gavel quarry at Lloyd Creek in Desolation Sound, my husband, Robert (Bobo) Fraser, and I undertook an unofficial area survey, June 11 and 19th, 2016, at the mouth of Homfray Channel.
As the author of Clam Gardens Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast, I am particularly familiar with the extensive food and habitation complex running north from Theodosia Inlet to Ahpokum (Forbes Bay) in Homfray Channel.
Traditional lands of the Sliammon and Klahoose peoples, the area is remarkable for the wide variety of native food available, the clam gardens constructed to cultivate Butter clams, canoe slides, midden deposits and ancient village sites.
A big chunk is now Prideaux Haven Marine Park. There is a salmon run at Ahpokum (Forbes Bay) and the Lloyd Creek Chum run could be directly impacted the proposed quarry site above.
We travelled by speedboat from Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island directly across Desolation Sound to Prideaux Haven. There is a Klahoose Band logging operation directly north of the park’s Roffey Island, the entrance to the First Nations defensive site known as Flea Village.[i]
Steep logging roads have been carved thru the mainland area above Lloyd Point north where an alluvial fan of glacial deposit gravel extends in a rounded form to Lloyd Creek. The creek mouth debouches north into Lloyd Bay and Homfray Channel below a distinctive native-hat shaped volcanic cone.
The gravel fan’s source would seem to be the glacially deposited gravel pocket above.
Directly across Homfray Channel is the site of one of the most remarkable pictograph galleries in this area.
The unique image of a man riding the fabled sea serpent of Homfray Channel is accompanied by a shamanic figure, men spearing a seal and a symbol of the hemlock branch used when searching for a spirit guide.
Occupying the right half of Lloyd Bay north of the river is a small scallop farm.
Directly behind the farm is a wide gravel beach and a smaller creek.
Originally preempted by one of the Lindberg brothers in 1917/18, this land was privately purchased to aid its preservation.
A road runs along the bay west toward a wood building passing a magnificent, glacially carved foliate rock formation whose galleries should be examined for rock paintings. A rough road has been extended southwest by the addition of huge rock blocks intended as a pier for one of the owners of another property running north.
Built without a permit, the pier completion was stopped. A set of rounded offshore rocks and tidal islets extends southwest from there and examination at a 2.6 tide indicated cleared, clam flats now colonized by the Pacific oysters introduced in the 1920s. It is an excellent protected and easily enhance-able shellfish site.
From there one looks south into the whole of Desolation Sound.
From Lloyd Bay we travelled north to the old Lindberg farm under the care of Ken Beaubien.
Eric Lindberg and his sister still lived there with Ivor Danielson when we first formed the Refuge Cove Land and Housing Co-op in 1972 and they came to shop in the Refuge Cove Store that still serves the area. Just north of the farm is the entrance to Forbes River Bay (Ahpokum) opposite a huge fissure cracking up into East Redodna Island.
North on the mainland, is a second major pictograph gallery where the ochre-painted figure of Quodum, said to have lived over 400 years ago, is attended by a squatting figure, another serpent and figures fishing from a canoe.
The Klahoose people who came south from Toba Inlet via this route named almost all these land points in relation to travel to join the Sliammon and Homalco people at winter ceremonials in Grace Harbour in Theodosia Inlet.
A major portion of East Redonda Island facing the proposed quarry site was made an Ecological Reserve in the 70s.
The introduction of an enormous industrial operation into this magnificent landscape, so beloved of the local inhabitants and of the boaters - who are the main ongoing, economic engine in Desolation Sound – takes our breath away.
The scar would remain 'far beyond our lifetimes'
The massive initial logging to clear the area behind and above Lloyd Creek, the ensuing gravel extraction, the noise of rumbling clanking and wheezing machinery, the dust and air pollution attending the loading of raw material into tug barges simply for further construction of road and high rises in cities, stuns the imagination.
Why on earth would the citizens of British Columbia allow such short-term destruction for corporate profit?
Extraction is not sustainable – the gravel would be gone. The scar, like that now in Sechelt created by Lehigh Henson Materials, would remain far beyond our lifetimes.
The gravel deposited by a glacier retreating back into the inlets now filters meltwater down into the pure gravel creeks that create ideal spawning beds.
We should be enhancing the many smaller water systems like Lloyd Creek to cultivate the distinct genetic runs of salmon in multiple waterways that are the backup systems we need when larger runs are threatened.
Salmon are the treasure and lynchpins of our coastal eco-system; destroying wilderness to export gravel would seem to be a remarkably shorted sighted use of our common capital.