Both Cutthroat and Coho Salmon call the Colquitz River home but in recent years the number of coho spawners migrating upstream has been declining. Showing their incredible resiliency, a few spawning salmon have become the symbol of hope showing these fish can recover and succeed in an urban watershed with a long history of human impacts. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Peninsula Streams Society to restore 120 metres of Colquitz Watershed

With goal of contributing to the recovery of cutthroat and coho salmon

The Peninsula Streams Society and the District of Saanich are teaming up to restore and enhance habitat in the Colquitz Watershed.

Both Cutthroat and Coho Salmon call the Colquitz River home but in recent years the number of coho spawners migrating upstream has been declining. Showing their incredible resiliency, a few spawning salmon have become the symbol of hope showing these fish can recover and succeed in an urban watershed with a long history of human impacts.

Starting on Aug. 12, Peninsula Streams will begin to restore a 120-metre section of the Colquitz River within Copley East Park near the entrance from Eastridge Crescent. During the two-week construction period, public access to this area of the park will be restricted during normal municipal work hours. The Colquitz River trail runs along this section of the river, and as a result has been impacted by heavy use over the decades.

READ ALSO: Spill into Saanich’s Colquitz River could kill future salmon runs

In-stream work will consist of constructing three ‘riffles’ with pools and spawning platforms to provide important habitat and improve water quality. Large woody debris and rocks will be anchored into the stream to protect against erosion and enhance fish habitat. Along the banks, compacted soils will be loosened, covered with mulch and replanted with appropriate native plants. Newly restored areas will be protected by installing split-rail fencing between the stream and trail, with a lead-in trail for viewing access.

In addition to serving as spawning habitat, these new spawning platforms improve opportunities for salmon viewing as a means to connect the general public with their natural environment. The proposed viewing area could host small school groups for environmental education programs and will include interpretive signage with information on salmon, stream habitat and restoration. This project will help promote public awareness of the threats facing urban salmon streams and facilitate community-based stewardship and engagement. With the ultimate goal of contributing to the recovery of cutthroat and coho salmon in the Colquitz River.

READ ALSO: Volunteers alarmed as 11 salmon found dead in Colquitz fish fence

Following the 2019 in-stream work, the Friends of Colquitz will participate in stream monitoring, riparian planting and maintenance, and adult salmon counting activities to ensure the long-term success of the project. Project funders and supporters include the District of Saanich, Pacific Salmon Foundation, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Friends of Colquitz Mainstem, Victoria Fish and Game Protective Society and the Haig-Brown Fly Fishing Association.

The Peninsula Streams will canvassing door-to-door to inform the local community members of the project and opportunities to help out with the project after initial machine work is completed.

For more information visit peninsulastreams.ca/watersheds/colquitz-watershed or contact the Society at PeninsulaStreams@gmail.com; tax receipts are issued for donations.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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