The Cheakamus IR11 Floodplain Restoration Project is the culmination of over 30 years of partnership efforts between Fisheries Oceans Canada, North Vancouver Outdoor School, Squamish Nation, and the Squamish River Watershed Society in an attempt to re-establish ground water channels and spawning habitat within the diked off sections along the former Cheakamus River floodplain. This project expands upon previous habitat restoration projects in the Dave Marshall Salmon Reserve, adjacent to the Cheakamus River. The main purpose of the Project was to create spawning and rearing habitats to be utilized by Coho, Chinook, Pink, and Chum Salmon as well as Cutthroat and Steelhead Trout. The original floodplain habitats have become degraded over the decades due to changes in river flow, sediment budgets, and installation of flood protection works that resulted from the installation of the Daisy Lake Reservoir, transmission towers, and road access works that began in 1956.
These habitat areas will now support Pink
and Chinook salmon and are also important for co-existing Coho and Chum Salmon.
The original floodplain habitats were degraded due to changed river flow,
sediment budgets and installation of flood protection works due to impacts of
the Daisy Lake dam, transmission towers and
access road construction
The new works have now expanded and restored
restore fish habitat in and around the Lower Paradise Channel consisting of the
1. Lower Paradise (Moody’s) Channel
has now been backwatered to create a long riffle approximately 200 metres
downstream of the Canoe Pond. This
riffle is approximately 50m long and 3m wide and has been graded to provide 150
m² of spawning
habitat for Chinook salmon, but it will also provide spawning habitat for Coho,
Pink and Chum salmon.
2. The riffle was designed to a
target elevation that enables a small intake to divert a minor flow into a
constructed channel, which allows flow into an isolated backchannel on the
historic floodplain of Cheakamus IR 11 land. The constructed and existing backchannel are
approximately 440m in length and 5m in width, providing 2200 m² of
high quality rearing habitat for Coho Salmon.
3. Two new watercourses were
constructed to connect the backchannel to previously constructed habitats
associated with Lower Paradise Channel.
These watercourses provide a further 700 m² of spawning and rearing opportunities,
primarily for Coho salmon.
4. Large wood debris and rock were placed
at strategic locations to improve habitat function of the channels. The slope
of the gravel bed in the newly constructed channels and the riffle were set to
ensure all areas provide optimum conditions for spawning salmon.
The importance of this habitat
was demonstrated during the flood of record in 2003, when over 90% of the
surviving pink salmon fry that migrated past the BC Hydro Water Use monitoring
traps the next spring, were found to have originated in this restored side
Increased salmon returns to the
relatively stable side-channel habitat now provide improved foraging
opportunities for birds such as the Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron and Belted
Kingfisher. Additional marine derived
nutrients from the salmon carcasses provide an important food and nutrient source
for both aquatic and terrestrial animals and plants in the Cheakamus River.