Lost Shoe Creek Off-channel Project

The District of Ucluelet expressed aesthetic concerns to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BC MoT) about the scattered woody debris exposed during the 2011 Lost Shoe Creek Highway 4 Bridge Replacement. In September 2012, Central Westcoast Forest Society, working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, used the removal of woody debris as an opportunity to develop off-channel habitat.

Smaller off-channel tributaries provide important habitat characteristics for juvenile salmonids. During peak winter flows, juvenile salmonids, in particular coho and cutthroat trout, seek refuge in smaller tributaries and off-channel habitats. Low gradient tributaries have lower flow rates allowing the fish to conserve energy. They also offer protection from predators when slower metabolic rates as a result of cooler water make fish more susceptible to predation. The objectives of this project were to: (1) Address the aesthetic concerns raised by the District of Ucluelet; (2) Ensure the remaining woody debris no longer negatively impacts the road; (3) Create year-round aquatic habitat; and (4) Complement and enhance existing winter off-channel fish habitat and wildlife values within the wetland located adjacent to the replaced Lost Shoe Creek Bridge.

Construction of this channel provides valuable year-round aquatic habitat for all life stages of coho, and spawning and rearing stages of chum, steelhead and cutthroat trout as well as it provides habitat for local wildlife species. The woody debris was used in channel construction and was scattered amongst the forest to provide small wildlife habitat complexity.

Central Westcoast Forest Society is also working with Barb Beasley from the Association of Wetland Stewards for Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds, to construct frog fences that run parallel to the road adjacent to the off-channel. These fences will direct amphibian movement below the bridge to help reduce the number of amphibians that are run over by highway traffic.

Central Westcoast Forest Society installed a smolt trap in the spring of 2013, 2014, and 2015 to help evaluate the effectiveness of the off-channel habitat. More smolts have been observed in the off-channel from year to year.