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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada

Salmon Stream Restoration

Overview | Salmon Stream Restoration | FAQ | Sand Dune Restoration | Threatened Plant Species | Volunteer

Kennedy Flats Watershed

Unhealthy stream
Unhealthy stream
© Central Westcoast Forest Society

The Kennedy Flats Watershed, adjacent to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, is a unique, flat landscape which formed when glaciers receded 10,000 years ago. Gravel deposits in this landscape provided excellent spawning habitat for salmon, supporting a large “fish factory” that produced huge numbers of wild salmon. These numbers are now significantly reduced as a result of the destruction of their habitat.

Salmon streams on the decline

Increased demand for lumber fuelled large-scale industrial logging on the west coast between the 1950s and early 1990s. The low-lying landscape of the Kennedy Flats Watershed provided easy access to its old-growth forests. Historically, the environmental impacts of clearcut logging were not appreciated but these practices affected salmon habitat in two significant ways. Firstly, after clearcutting an area, scrap trees was placed into streams to create bridges which assisted with the movement of valued lumber. This activity made the streams impassable to salmon. Secondly, glacier-deposited spawning gravel was removed from the streams for use in logging-road construction. As a result, streams were significantly damaged and the numbers of salmon plummeted.

Restoring the streams

Healthy stream
Healthy stream
© Central Westcoast Forest Society

According to the Society for Ecological Restoration International, ecological restoration is the “process of assisting the recovery of damaged ecosystems”. In Kennedy Flats, restoration work involves repairing the damage caused by industrial logging. Restoration crews have removed most of the woody debris and undesirable vegetation from both the streams and riparian (stream-side) areas. These efforts will help heal these streams so that wild salmon may return to the area.

A collaborative approach

Stream restoration work is a huge undertaking, requiring the cooperative efforts of various organizations. Under the leadership of the Central Westcoast Forest Society, restoration team members have come from First Nations, chambers of commerce, local governments, private industry, scientists, concerned citizens and Parks Canada. These stakeholders recognize the need to repair these streams for the health of the ecosystems and the local economy.

Future of salmon streams

Restoration work continues both inside and outside Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the Kennedy Flats Watershed, with significant efforts concentrated on Lost Shoe, Staghorn, Kootowis and Sandhill Creeks. As these groups work towards a common goal, their hope is that vibrant streams full of salmon will flow again for future generations.