The San Juan Watershed Agreement was implemented in 1996 between the
federal/provincial governments and three major forest companies to develop a fisheries mitigation program for the San Juan Watershed on Southwest Vancouver Island. Fish habitat restoration projects were identified, prioritized and implemented in the watershed to compensate for habitat losses due to logging activities. The Harris Creek side channel development is one of the projects deemed a top priority by Pacheedaht First Nations.
Support for this project was provided by the Pacheedaht First Nations, BC Ministry of Transportation, Teal Jones Forest Ltd., the Port Renfrew Salmon Enhancement Society and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The creation of off channel habitat has proven to be very successful in the San Juan and Gordon River watersheds in providing stable spawning habitat as well as allowing salmon juveniles to survive winter conditions before re-entering the main stream as smolts. In building the Harris Creek side channel, it was estimated that 15,000 square meters of wetted area would be produced. The completed side channel as constructed actually provides 32,000 square meters of wetted area as it was designed to capitalize on a length of prime off channel rearing habitat that otherwise suffers from low summer flows. Excavation of the channel uncovered prime spawning gravel substrate where a series of riffles were built to provide spawning habitat for coho and chinook salmon. Habitat complexing was accomplished by providing a number of alcoves along the channel and by the placement of large woody debris where adults and juveniles will hide from predators. It is expected that steelhead and trout juveniles may also use the channel for rearing. Pacheedaht First Nations and DFO are working together on a post-construction monitoring program that will assess utilization of the channel by spawning adults and rearing fry, egg-to-fry survival and an evaluation of smolt production.
MacIntosh, Shaun, Wright, Margaret; Wright, Michael C.. 2008. Harris Side Channel. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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