Open letter to Steve Gerard and those concerned about the status of Deep Creek in the upper Rangitata:
Steve and CSI Fish & Game Staff have had numerous interactions about Deep Creek over the years including a joint effort in September 2012 to manually remove an unconsented diversion. When advised of the diversion CSI promptly reported it to ECan who have responsibility for enforcement action. We understand that the diversion may have been completed some 5 years before and by a previous owner of the station. Considerable effort was expended by CSI Staff over a 6-month period including preparing an 8-page application for waiver of conditions under the Natural Resources Regional Plan and the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan to undertake even manual (not machine) removal of the unconsented diversion in a sensitive area. A “non-enforcement decision” was granted by ECan on August 28, 2012. Joint action to remove the diversion was completed in September. Since manual removal, natural forces have been at work to shape the separation of the two channels as evidenced in the attached photo taken in July this year.
The CSI Council had a detailed discussion about Deep Creek at its June 2014 meeting that highlighted its importance as a salmon spawning stream. The view of Council was expressed in a letter to Steve on 16 June 2014 (copy attached) that sets out the reasons for Council’s view. Council reaffirmed its view as stated in its June letter at Thursday night’s Council meeting.
It occurs to me, however, that the basis for Council's view may not be well known or understood by anglers. Deep Creek is one of only four named streams in the upper Rangitata given special status in the Rangitata Water Conservation Order 2006. It is named in “Schedule 2 – Protected waters” for its “Outstanding Features” for “Salmon spawning”. It is for that reason that Council assigns a higher priority to maintain and enhance salmon spawning and rearing habitat in Deep Creek as stated in Council’s letter of 16 June. In any year, between 50% and 80% of all salmon spawning in the entire Rangitata River catchment occurs in Deep Creek!
That high status for “salmon spawning” is further reinforced in the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan (the Plan). Schedule 17 of that Plan specifically lists “Salmon Spawning Sites” of regional importance. Deep Creek is specifically named. F&G fought hard to get even those values included in the Plan. Furthermore the Plan has at least 12 Rules that control and restrict activities that can be undertaken in named streams with high values for salmon spawning. The complexity and robustness of satisfying those rules was apparent in gaining approval from ECan and affected parties and preparing the 8-page application to manually remove the unconsented diversion as stated above.
Protecting the salmon spawning values is the reason for Council placing higher priority on streams such as Deep Creek. CSI have initiated various habitat protection and enhancement works on other important salmon spawning streams throughout the lower and upper Rangitata including Deep Creek and Deep Stream (on the south side of the Rangitata).
Over the last several months I have had several conversations with Steve about ECan’s on-going river control works, works they are required to do by statute. We have shared various examples of guidelines of best practice for carrying out such works. I have been able to advise him that ECan is currently undertaking review of its guidelines and it is timely for Steve and CSI to have input into that review.
Jay Graybill, Chief Executive
CSI Fish & Game Council