This is part two of a two-part blog post by Tamara UnRuh, Bow Habitat Station’s outreach coordinator. You can read part one here.
When I arrived at the Bow Habitat Station on Saturday morning, it had been almost two days since I had left the office wondering when I would return. I couldn’t believe what I saw looking out at the Trout Pond from the roof: our pond had now merged with the Bow River.
Into safer waters
It wasn’t until the following day – Sunday – that the water levels had finally receded from the park enough for staff to begin the evacuation of fish from the building. But this was easier said than done. With the electricity still out, staff had to spot the fish in the tanks using only flashlights, and had to watch their step as the carpets were soaked through and had become quite the Slip n’ Slide. Eventually, staff were able to safely move 51 fish from our aquariums.
Once the fish were evacuated, we were able to find temporary homes for them with some help from our friends. Keith and Robin Freney of Fintasia, who maintain and manage our aquarium operations, also take care of the aquariums at Bass Pro Shops. They graciously offered a temporary home for our aquarium fish. We are happy to report that they have adjusted to their new environment quite well.
But the job was far from over. Approximately 250,000 fish remained in the ponds of the Fish Hatchery. Over the next week, staff relocated all the fish to other management facilities throughout the province – including the Allison Creek and Raven Brood Stations and the Cold Lake Fish Hatchery, as well as lakes and ponds throughout the province.
Cleaning up and moving forward
With years of experience, staff were able to minimize the impact of the flooding on the building itself – but even water a few inches deep can cause substantial damage, and we were still faced with quite a bit of cleanup. Since the flood, both Bow Habitat Station and Pearce Estate Park have remained closed to the public as we continue the remediation and recovery process.
The hard work has resulted in some great progress. I’m happy to report that the Trout Pond, which acquired a few fish from the river, is once again receiving fresh flowing water – great news for the 50 rainbow trout remaining in the pond. Paul Christensen, one of our Area Fisheries Biologists, recently led a fish rescue operation to move the river fish stranded in the pond by flooding back to their native home.
Ready to re-open
Our work isn’t finished, but the hardest part of it is now over. Beginning July 30th, Bow Habitat Station’s Discovery Centre will reopen its doors with half-price admission. It will remain open throughout the summer: Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. At that time, the Trout Pond will also reopen for its always popular catch and release fishing.
It has been heartbreaking to see a place we all love suffer such devastation –and even harder to close our doors to the public for the last four weeks. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude we at Bow Habitat Station have for all the workers from different departments and organizations who came together through impossible conditions to save the facility and our fish. We owe so much to their continued support, and we’re excited to work alongside them to launch a full re-opening of all operations – very soon.