British Columbia enters into co-management agreement with Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation on Fraser River debris trap; it intercepts some 100,000 m3/year of woody debris that without the debris trap would threaten human safety, navigation and infrastructure

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HOPE, British Columbia , June 19, 2023 (press release) –

Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Co-management agreement between Province, Shxw'ōwhámél first of its kind

Containment barriers on the Fraser River that have been intercepting debris for more than 40 years are now under a co-management agreement between the Province and the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation.

The Fraser River Debris Trap Co-Management Agreement is the first of its kind in B.C. that formally recognizes both the Province and the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation as collaboratively overseeing provincially owned infrastructure.

Located between Hope and Agassiz, the Fraser River Debris Trap reduces the volume of woody material flowing into the lower reaches of the Fraser River and Salish Sea. Without the debris trap, this material would pose a danger to human safety, navigation and downstream infrastructure. The debris trap also keeps B.C. clean by intercepting other waste, such as plastics, propane tanks, abandoned boats and other floating debris.

“This first-of-its-kind agreement is another step forward in advancing reconciliation with First Nations by recognizing and respecting the Shxw'ōwhámél’s jurisdiction, management, authority and responsibilities within its territory,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “The Fraser River Debris Trap is a vital component for preventing damage along the river and exploring economic opportunities, which are shared interests of the Province and the Shxw'ōwhámél people.”

The agreement gives the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation a role in the stewardship of the operation of the debris trap, which is situated in the river alongside Shxw'ōwhámél reserve lands. The pact opens the door to employment and economic development opportunities for the First Nation and its members.

“The Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation is happy to move forward side by side with the B.C. government to protect our environment for years to come," said Irene Smith, responsible for emergency management, infrastructure and water for the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation.

As much as 100,000 cubic metres of woody debris – about 2,000 logging truck loads – is intercepted annually, mostly during the high-water period of the spring runoff and during periods of excessive rainfall. Following the atmospheric river events of November 2021, items captured in addition to woody debris included recreational vehicles and large portions of residential sundecks.

Under the agreement, the Province and Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation are co-managers of the debris trap. The prime contractor and operator is Ventures-Dent LLP, which is a partnership between Shxw'ōwhámél Ventures, a construction company owned by the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation, and Jim Dent Construction, based in Hope.

Harmful debris is removed as it accumulates at the trap from the 1,300-kilometre length of the Fraser River and its tributaries stretching from Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains east of Prince George.

The Province and Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation are exploring potential uses for the wood debris collected, such as converting it to bioenergy, and other uses such as selling salvageable timber to forest companies for processing. The Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation is also looking at building a longhouse with the merchantable timber. Much of the remaining non-woody debris is recycled.

It is estimated that the trap prevents millions of dollars in damages each year related to the cleanup, repair and maintenance of boats, docks, bridges, riverfront infrastructure and wetlands habitat.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately 99% of the volume captured by the debris trap is woody material.
  • From its creation in 1979 until 1999, the Fraser River Debris Trap was funded equally by the provincial and federal governments and the coastal forest industry.
  • Emergency Management BC, forerunner of the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, took over responsibility in 2011.

Learn More:

For more information about the Shxw'ōwhámél First Nation, visit:

To learn how B.C. is rising to the challenge of disaster and climate risk, visit:

  Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Media Relations
250 880-6430

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