Big Bar Landslide Incident

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On June 23, 2019, a landslide in a remote canyon along the Fraser River, north of Lillooet, was reported in B.C. Over 85,000 cubic metres of rock had sheared off a 125-metre-high cliff and fallen into the river. This slide created a five-metre waterfall, trapping migrating salmon below the slide.

On this page:

Big Bar 2022 information bulletins

Ongoing updates on the Big Bar landslide response and details about the work that’s being done.

Read all past information bulletins

Big Bar ongoing response and First Nations’ role

Using an Incident Command System (similar to what’s typically used by the BC Wildfire Service to respond to fires), a Unified Command was established to lead the remediation response and included all levels of government (First Nations, provincial and federal). This team included field and support staff from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the First Nations Fraser River Aboriginal Secretariat and the BC Wildfire Service, as well as scientists, engineers, First Nations fisheries crews and archaeological monitors, biologists, rock scalers, hydrologists and many others.

From the onset of the incident at the Big Bar Landslide, a government-to-government-to-government response was envisioned and implemented. An innovative collaboration between First Nations, Federal, and Provincial governments has been formed in the spirit of reconciliation and recognition of First Nation’s place at the table.

2021 Response

In recent years the response has moved from reactionary to completing a permanent solution. Below are some highlights from 2021:

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in partnership with local First Nations, released over 213,400 Chinook & sockeye fry into the Upper Fraser watershed, of which 101,000 Chinook fry came from 2020 Big Bar brood stock
  • Work continued on the permanent “nature-like” fishway in advance of 2021 Fraser salmon migration including upgrading the concrete fish ladder
  • Alternate fish passage or “trap & transport” systems were designed to support monitoring and emergency enhancements efforts
  • Winter work included large boulders blasted from the site and broken up to use as rip rap material (rocks and other rocky material placed on shorelines to protect banks/structures from erosion)
  • Rips rap material was used to build a temporary embankment to help stabilize West Beach and protect equipment from high water damage
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada technicians ponded (transferred to larger rearing containers) 120,000 Early Stuart sockeye which have matured into fry from the 2020 brood year
  • Cliff stabilization work and pile driving for the north end of the fishway
  • Rock fall prevention work
  • Conservation enhancement planning between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and First Nation technical partners, St’at’imc Eco Resources and Splitrock Environmental

Learn more about the 2021 response