Submitter: Priscilla Judd
Date Submitted: December 26, 2010
An article from the Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation entitled "The Use of Saltings on the BC Coast" may assist the commission to better understand impacts on Fraser sockeye habitat. The article states that saltings, an old term for land which is regularly flooded by salty water, should be recognized for their ecological importance and be treated as a valuable natural resource.
The following Article from the: Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation | Vol.38 No.4 2005 |about "saltings" may be important to Sockeye habitat since it states that:
"Saltings are associated with river estuaries at the heads of more than 400 fiords on the coast. It is time to recognize their ecological importance and history, and to treat them as a valuable natural resource."
It is on the Internet and copied it here for your information. I hope it will assist the Commission in their work.
The Use of Saltings on the BC Coast
By V.C. (Bert) Brink and June Binke
altings is an old English term for land which
is regularly flooded by salty water and used
for various purposes when the tide is out,
notably as pasturage for horses and cattle.
In the early days of farming along the British
Columbia coast saltings played a significant role, providing grazing and browsing areas for farm
animals at a time when forested land was being
cleared for the plough and the building of homes.
For many decades (and, in some places, right up to the present time) the use of saltings helped to
make farms viable.
The extensive use of saltings in
the Fraser River delta is now almost forgotten but a
map of the original vegetation of the estuary, put
together in 1979 by Dr. Margaret North, of the
Department of Geography at the University of British
Columbia,1 shows how extensive brackish marsh and
shrub used to be. In fact, saltings were surveyed and sold by the provincial Crown; some were dyked while
others extended outside the dykes and remain as salt
The photograph, taken in 1946, shows horses
and a cow using the saltings of Boundary Bay- with
Mount Baker in the background. It is believed-that the horses belonged to Murray Davey, a prominent
Delta farmer, and at least one is a Clydesdale
draughthorse. Very likely the photo is the last taken
of saltings used as pasturage in the Lower Mainland of B.C.
Along the North Arm of the Fraser River, the
McCleery farm (1962)2 made use of the saltings, and
this use is recorded in the Vancouver City Archives.
There are many past references to the use of
saltings along other estuaries, for example the Cowichan and Comox areas and Delkatlah Slough on Graham Island in the Queen Charlottes. However, over and above their use by early settlers, saltings have always been heavily used by wildlife (bears, elk
and birds in particular).
The botany and habitat values of saltings have
been only scantily described in formal terms, and this
lack of knowledge has allowed many saltings along
the Coast to be compromised environmentally (for
both good and bad) by debris from the forest industry
(logging and milling).
Saltings are associated with river estuaries at
the heads of more than 400 fiords on the coast. It is time to recognize their ecological importance and history, and to treat them as a valuable natural
1. M.E.A. North et al.
Vegetation of the Southwestern
Fraser Lowland 1858-1880.
([Ottawa:] Environment Canada,
Lands Directorate, 1979).
2. Bruce Macdonald,
Vancouver: A Visual History,
(Vancouver, Talonbooks, 1992).