An environmental group is partnering with the District of Saanich to both restore salmon breeding grounds and to build infrastructure to help the community witness the salmon in their natural habitat.
The Peninsula Streams Society (PSS) and the District of Saanich have targeted the Colquitz Watershed, home to both cutthroat and coho salmon. They hope to reverse the decline in coho spawners migrating upstream, and believe that with proper restoration, fish populations can recover and flourish in the Colquitz River.
Between Aug. 12 to 26, they aim to restore a 120-metre portion of the river, north of Copley Park East. The area has a long history of human impact as the Colquitz River Trail runs alongside it. The group has gone door-to-door to inform local residents of the project and say there will be volunteer opportunities for anyone interested after the initial machine work is completed.
The project has intrigued many local residents as part of the vision is to create three ‘riffles,’ with pools and spawning platforms, which provide habitats for the fish and improve overall water quality. Large chunks of natural debris and rocks will be anchored into the stream-bed to mitigate the effects of erosion and to enhance the salmon’s habitat.
The river itself it not the only area to benefit from the project. Along the banks, soil will be loosened, covered with mulch, and native plants added. Split-rail fencing will then be installed between the stream and trail, with a pathway offering viewing access. The new spawning platforms will improve opportunities for salmon viewing, giving the general public the opportunity to clearly see the wonder of salmon spawning.
The proposed viewing area will be big enough for small school groups and will provide a good site for those in environmental education programs. Further, interpretive signage will be put up, giving information on salmon, stream habitat and restoration. PSS hopes the project will help keep the public abreast of the threats facing urban salmon streams and facilitate community-based stewardship in the future.
The Friends of Colquitz Mainstem group will participate in stream monitoring and adult salmon counting activities to help the long-term success of the project and to gauge its efficacy.
Sponsors and supporters of the project include the District of Saanich, Pacific Salmon Foundation, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., Friends of Colquitz Mainstem, Victoria Fish and Game Protective Society and the Haig-Brown Fly Fishing Association.
As work begins, public access to the trail between Copley East Park and Mann Avenue will be restricted from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. from Aug. 12.