RESTORING THE SQUAMISH ESTUARY - ONE CHANNEL AT A TIME
The former log sort site is located within the Skwelwil’em Wildlife Management Area, on the east bank of the Squamish River in the area known as the Central Estuary.
Central Estuary Restoration aerial view. Photo by Colin Bates
The Squamish River Watershed Society is the lead proponent and over the past several years has been working closely with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and BC Institute of Technology to develop a restoration plan and a long-term monitoring plan. The SRWS secured funding from numerous sources including the National Wetland Conservation Fund, BC Hydro Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, and in-kind support from the local universities, government, and community and is covering 100% of the restoration costs. All permits and approvals for the restoration of the site were secured early in the year and by March 2015 restoration on the site commenced.
The restoration involves regrading the entire site to the elevation of the adjacent sedge marsh meadow and constructing tidal channels. The former log-dump pond is to be infilled and graded to reestablish e a tidal mud flat. Recognizing the importance of this area to the public, the Provincial government has approved the SRWS to build a connector trail along the eastern edge of the site to allow pedestrian access. The emphasis, however, is to reestablish wildlife habitat. As well as being within the WMA, the area is also part of a Canadian Important Bird Area (IBA) and will provide habitat for resident and migratory birds, including blue herons and bald eagles. Soil and water sampling are being collected and analyzed by an independent lab with Simon Fraser University to provide a baseline for future monitoring and sampling that will be useful to determine the rate at which the site is restoring. In the coming year(s) we hope to develop an experiential living class-room for University and College students.
June Update: The site is still under construction to restore the tidal channels and sedge marsh and remains closed to the public (please respect signage and avoid trespassing the site until all works are completed). A large quantity of wood waste was discovered just below the surface once the restoration works began in March and is currently being stock-piled at the northern end of the site. The wood waste will be removed to a suitable location in the next few months and restoration on the site will resume. Transplants of Carex lyngbyei sedge has commenced and will continue until the end of June to allow the rhizome (root mass) to propagate beneath the soil surface. In the fall another riparian planting of the trail and site will be organized and the public will once more be invited to come out and lend a hand to help re-establish the native shrubs and trees.
July Update: The wood waste is all but removed and restoration of the site has resumed. Over the next few weeks (unless we are shut down from fire restrictions) we plan on continuing to regrade the entire site, resume infilling the former log-dump pond to create tidal marsh, and complete the large tidal channel connectors. As well, over the next few weeks a bridge will be constructed along the access trail and the trail itself will have a bit of an upgrade to even out the surface and provide some slope stabilization. The site is still under construction so we urge the public to keep out or to be very cautions when equipment is in operation.
On July 16 we were able to take some video footage courtesy of Coastal Photography Studios (Jamie Smith) of the project area that can be seen below.
Project Partnerships & Funding Support
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
District of Squamish
Seagrass Conservation Working Group
BCIT Rivers Institute
National Wetland Conservation Fund
Habitat Conservation Trust Fund
Pacific Salmon Foundation
Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program