SḴWX̱WÚ7MESH/SQUAMISH RIVER ESTUARY
central estuary restoration
central estuary restoration
We are very excited to be further moving forward towards restoring salmon connectivity between the Squamish River and the central estuary! We started the Central Estuary Restoration Plan in 2017 with funding support from Coastal Restoration Fund, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program to developing and implementing improvements in the estuary to improve Chinook salmon stocks. This project is a partnership with Squamish Nation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada as part of reconciliation and working towards restoring declining Chinook salmon populations. Project stakeholders who play a regulatory or advisory role on this project include the provincial government, District of Squamish, Squamish Terminals, and Transport Canada.
The original plan involved a three phased approach to improve access for outmigrating juvenile Chinook salmon to access the estuary before heading out into the ocean. Phase 1 involved improving passage at key locations along the Training Berm. This resulted in upgrades to fish-friendly culverts mid-way down the berm at Culvert #3 (completed in 2019) and Culvert #4 (completed in 2020). Phase 2 of the project is planned to modify the lower Spit (approximately 850 m) to open up the lower estuary to over 400 hectares of estuarine habitat. Phase 3 will involve the installation of flow control structures along the CN Spur Line to reconnect tidal flows from the estuary into upper Cattermole Slough / Bridge Pond.
In order to undertake these exciting restoration activities numerous studies, monitoring programs, and engineering modelling had to be undertaken. In 2018 flood modelling and sediment transport modelling was completed. In 2019 and 2020 wave modelling and modelling for the removal of the lower Spit were completed. From 2017 to the present monitoring programs to establish base-line data and then collect annual data on fisheries and biophysical attributes in the estuary have been undertaken in order to determine the effectiveness of the restoration activities.
Planning for Phase 2 of the project is well underway and requires additional engineering design, modelling, and studies in advance of the physical Spit removal, which is planned to start this fall after September 15. This project is an exciting opportunity to reestablish the Squamish estuary as a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem that will not only lead to the improvement of Chinook and other salmonid populations but will improve the resiliency of the Squamish estuary to climate change, sea level rise, and wildlife habitat.
Once we have completed the requisite studies and engineering modelling designs we will be able to post a more detailed work schedule and update on the next steps as we move forward with Phase 2 of this project.
We are grateful to the funding support we have received for the 2021 fiscal year and to Coastal Restoration Fund, Healthy Waters Initiative, Pacific Salmon Foundation, BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.
The Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS), formed in 1998, takes a holistic approach towards watershed management, examining the headwaters down to the estuary and into Howe Sound. We are committed to enhancing and preserving the integrity of the Squamish Watershed, focusing on key environmental factors and human influences.