Creating a Legacy
In the last issue of the Sounder
we introduced readers to Mike Wright, BSb, independent fisheries biologist contracted
by Clayoquot Wilderness Resorts & Spa to develop and oversee the Salmon Habitat
Restoration Project, one of five environmental stewardships that make up the resorts'
five-year, $3 million dollar Environmental Legacy Program. If you missed the last
issue, visit wildretreat. com and click on NEWS on the "About the Resorts" page.
In this issue, we check-in again with Mike to see what headway has been
made and learn of future plans. "We are proceeding according to schedule," says
Mike, "having excavated and restored about 20,000 cubic metres of over-burden
(gravel and debris jams left behind by a century of logging and mining activity)
from what we are calling the pond channel, or "P" channel. In May of this year,
work began about 2km up-river from the Outpost. We now have some viable new off-channel
spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, and we were thrilled to see chum digging
redds (egg nests) in the new habitat already this fall."
is akin to a collector- lane running parallel to a freeway; a safe, protected
area for salmon to spawn, for eggs to hatch, and for fry to mature. It is protected
geographically from torrential river activity, and the newly created undercut
banks are attracting spawning salmon. The new off-channel feeds into a groundwater
pond at the edge of the new meadow, then continues on down to the opposite side
of the outpost where the estuary wraps around and under the old bridge. "At high-tide,
there is a unique 'reverse falls' thing happening at sea level - when the water
starts percolating back upstream," adds GM John Caton, "guests marvel at our own
little miracle of nature."
"Work on the final 200 metres can resume
during the next fisheries window (early summer through mid- October when it is
safest to work around fish habitat) sometime mid June of 2005," says Wright, "at
that time crews will start 'complexing' the stream with large stumps and logs
to provide shade and predator cover for juvenile salmon." While "P" channel is
being completed, Wright and consulting hydrologists will continue testing and
formulating a plan for "H" (hydro) creek, which the Genovese Family Trust hopes
will lead to the installation of a small 250-kilowatt hydro-electric facility.
The facility is part of a longer-term plan to restore historic flow patterns to
"H" creek, and "L" creek, which will, ultimately create a six kilometre long network
of habitats capable of returning salmon and steelhead populations to pre-industrialized
The proposed facility would draw limited amounts of water (strictly
governed to maintain support of eco-systems; maintain insect drift, algae, leaf
decay, etc) from a high-level non-fish area, and return it just above the upper
limit of fish habitat.
This first phase of the Environmental Legacy
Program ("P" Creek) will support some 700-800 spawning pairs of Coho, and 11,000-12,000
Coho fry. Not a bad start for one little 16-tent eco-resort.