The Nechako River is a tributary to the Fraser River. It is a very unique river in that it is controlled by a dam, it has a genetically distinct population of endangered white sturgeon living within its waters, it runs within the traditional territory of Saik’uz First Nation, and it is home the a major bird migratory stopping grounds for tens of thousands of birds each year.
The Nechako River is a managed river. The water level and flow rate in the river varies depending on the outflow at Skins Lake Spillway. This can influence the amount of time it takes to travel on the river. Water release levels are reported each week and are available at the Visitor Centre. s
Migratory Bird Sanctuary at Riverside Park
The Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located on the Nechako River at Riverside Park, is a major migratory stopping grounds for thousands of Canada Geese along with many other species of birds including Trumpeter Swans, Northern Pintails, Caspian Terns, and White Pelicans. A definite stop for avid bird watchers and wildlife photographers.
The best time to see the highest diversity of birds is in the spring and fall, during migration. The summer is still great though, as you will find song birds, water fowl, shore birds, and birds of prey in the sanctuary.
Nechako White Sturgeon
The Nechako River is home to a genetically distinct population of white sturgeon that are currently listed as an endangered species. These fish grow to over 2.5 m long and more than 140 kg. They can live over 100 yrs in the Nechako River. Fishing for Nechako white sturgeon is illegal!
The Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) was formed to lead the recovery efforts for this unique species of fish. The NWSRI is committed to ensuring that sturgeon continue to live in the Nechako River for many generations to come. Amongst a number of recovery efforts, a conservation aquaculture project has been conducted in Vanderhoof since 2006 to increase the number of juvenile sturgeon in the river. More information is available at the Visitor Centre, or go to www.nechakowhitesturgeon.org.
A new Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Facility is being built in Vanderhoof across from Riverside Park. The recovery facility will work in an effort to rehabilitate the sturgeon population within the Nechako River. The facility is due to be operational in the spring of 2014. It will be open to the public, and will become a must stop in Vanderhoof.
Kenney Dam and Cheslatta Falls
Kenney Dam was built in the 1950’s, and was at the time the largest earth dam in the world. Kenney Dam holds back water in the Nechako Reservoir that is used to generate electricity for an aluminium smelter in Kitimat. An engineering feat for the time, Kenney Dam is still as impressive today as it was then.
A short distance from Kenney Dam is Cheslatta Falls, a spectacular waterfall into the upper most portion of the Nechako River. A maintained picnic and camping site is located just south of the bridge over the Cheslatta River, or hike down the 1.2 km trail from the road to enjoy your lunch with a view of the falls. Take caution on the trail, as it can be slippery from the mist of the falls. Contact the Visitor Centre for directions.
Greer Creek Falls
Greer Creek falls is an impressive 6m high falls at the end of a pictureque forest walk along a well maintained trail. There is parking at the trail head and a picnic table at the end of the roughly 2km trail. In the summer, bring your bathing suit to swim in the large pool under the falls. In winter bring your camera to capture the beauty of the white forest and frozen water. Pick up a Quick Guide to Animal Signs from the Visitor Centre to help you ID which animals have been along the trail before you – you may be surprised! It is a great all-season place to walk for the whole family.