Salmon stream restoration FAQ
- What kinds of fish live in the Kennedy Flats Watershed?
- Why are salmon so important to the Kennedy Flats Watershed?
- When can I see salmon in the streams?
- What makes certain vegetation a problem for the streams?
- How many years will it take for the streams to be restored?
- What equipment is used for stream restoration?
- How much does stream restoration cost?
- What can I do to help?
- Where can I learn more about stream restoration?
- Do you have plans for the future?
The streams in the Kennedy Flats Watershed, next to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, are home to both spawning and young coho, chinook, chum, steelhead and pink salmon, as well as cutthroat and rainbow trout. Other species, such as stickleback, sculpin and lampray, also rely on these streams.
Salmon are a traditional food source for both people and wildlife. The Nuu-chah-nulth people of the west coast of Vancouver Island have relied on salmon to feed their families since time immemorial. Bears, wolves, racoons and other wildlife feed on spawning salmon as they return to the streams of their birth. Dead salmon also fertilize the old-growth rainforest as their bodies decay and the nutrients seep into the soil. In turn, the rainforest provides a home for spawning and baby salmon.
Salmon spawn in the fall, generally between September and December. Coho salmon are the last to spawn and are often seen into late December.
Salmonberry and red alder occur naturally in the coastal temperate rainforest ecosystem and are the first to become established in disturbed areas. As these species grow very quickly and abundantly, they tend to suppress light and restrict conifer growth.
Both plant species share particular characteristics that enable them to thrive in disturbed areas. They are short-lived, fast-growing, densely distributed and have weak root systems. These traits create unstable stream banks and cause heavy erosion which then washes silt into the streams. Silt in spawning streams is detrimental to the entire life cycle of salmon and other stream inhabitants. For instance, if salmon eggs are buried in silt, the flow of oxygen is cut off and the salmon do not survive.
The improvement will be gradual. It may take over a hundred years for the restoration to be completed.
Equipment includes chainsaws, log winches, and shovels. Helicopters are also sometimes needed to move large logs.When the stream-bed is accessible, restoration crews will use mini excavators and dumpers to move sand and gravel around.
Since 1994, over $9 million has been invested into these restoration efforts by different parties. These funds have been managed by the non-profit Central Westcoast Forest Society. The majority of these funds go towards salaries since much of the work is done by hand. In the future, further restoration funds will be needed to continue this important restoration work.In general, salmon stream restoration may cost up to $1 million per 1 km of stream length depending on how badly it is degraded and how difficult it is to access the location.
- Be responsible with single-use plastics (i.e. don’t use them).
- Pack out whatever you bring with yourself onto the landscape.
- Learn more about salmon streams and why they are important, and share what you learn with others.
- Volunteer with different organizations to help restore salmon streams, including your local Stream Keepers organization.
- Support stream restoration efforts in your region.
Different local organizations contribute to stream restoration in this area. To learn more, please visit their websites:
Do you have plans for the future?
Yes, we have recently begun a sockeye stream restoration project in the Cheewaht Lake watershed. The watershed partially falls within the West Coast Trail Unit of the national park reserve and is within the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. The forest northeast and east of Cheewaht Lake extending to the national park reserve boundary was logged between 1984 and mid-2000s. Logging activities and subsequent bank failure upslope from the national park reserve have degraded spawning and rearing salmon habitat in the national park reserve. The overall objective is to restore the lower salmon-bearing sections of Cheewaht Lake tributaries within the boundaries of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to resemble their pre-impact condition. This work will take place between July 2020 and March 2022.
Following completion of Cheewaht streams restoration, we may refocus onrestoring additional streams within the Kennedy Flats.