Local conservation groups teamed up with the provincial government and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recently to protect vital fish habitat in the upper Squamish River. Earlier this month, work was completed on the Shovelnose Creek to raise an existing dyke that had been previously impacted by flooding. The efforts will help preserve "one of the primary and most important" spawning creeks for fish and other wildlife in the Squamish River, explained Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable member Dave Brown.
"The Squamish River is a very cold, glacial river, and because of that, a lot of the spawning occurs outside of the main stem, and Shovelnose has a high level of productivity for all the species of salmon and steelhead that spawn in it," he added. "Also, grizzly, black bear and elk are dependent on the area for food from the salmon that spawn there."
Brown said climate change has made flooding events more common, making this habitat restoration work all the more crucial.
"We seem to be getting these once every 100- or 200-year floods every 10 years now," he noted. The project was made possible thanks to $10,000 in funding from the Steelhead Society of BC, and $50,000 in provincial funding that Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy helped secure.
The DFO's Resource Restoration Unit, which the federal agency threatened to eliminate last month before reversing course following major public backlash, also lent support to the project. Conservation groups across the province rely heavily on the technical expertise of the unit staff that provides guidance on fish habitat restoration and enhancement projects. By working with the DFO, these largely volunteer-led groups are also able to significantly cut back on costs.
"Because of having access to the Resource Restoration Unit and the good work the province was doing, the Steelhead Society chipping in some money, and even the contractor who ... donated some of his time, it was a prime example of what can happen with a bit of money coming forward and some partnerships," Brown said.