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Ah'ta'apq Creek

“Ah’ta’apq once supported healthy populations of salmonids,however, early logging and road building activities have resulted in significant habitat destruction.

Background

Ah’ta’apq Creek is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at the north end of Clayoquot Sound and at the head of Hot Springs Cove. The watershed lies in Ahousaht First Nation's territory and is close in proximity to the Hesquiaht First Nation village at Hot Springs Cove.

Since the 1950’s, intensive industrial logging has occurred in this area and as a result the watershed has been significantly degraded. Historical logging activities have weakened the slopes surrounding the creek, causing persistent landslides. The accumulation of rock debris has buried the channel, resulting in the loss of habitat features, subsurface flows, extensive bank erosion and channel widening. Impacts of landslide activity have been compounded by timber harvest of the riparian surrounding Ah’ta’apq creek which has simplified the stream side forest, destabilized stream banks and halted the natural recruitment of large woody debris into the system.

Ah’ta’apq Creek once provided spawning and rearing habitat for wild stocks of chum, coho, salmon alonf with steelhead, rainbow trout and a population of blue-listed coastal cutthroat trout. The Ah’ta’apq Creek Restoration Project was initiated to restore fish habitat and increase the health and productivity of these wild fish populations.

The project is a partnership between Central Westcoast Forest Society, Hesquiaht First Nation and Ahousaht First Nation with support from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and BGC Engineering.

Project to date

Restoration efforts here began in the early 2000’s with bioengineering techniques being used to stabilize active or high risk slides in the watersheds. In 2009 the site was re-visited to asses the current terrain stability, riparian conditions and in-stream habitat features in order to develop a watershed level restoration plan. In 2014 restoration efforts were resumed and focused on re building complexity in the riparian forest by thinning red alder and planting 2000+ native conifers along the bank of the lower river. In-stream we have built a sediment catchment sump which to collect rock and debris as it moves downstream, to lessen the impacts on down stream habitat, additionally 15 log and boulder structures were built, designed to promote channelization and pool formation while decreasing bank erosion and providing cover habitat.

This watershed has a long road to recovery but with your help we can help it recover and once again have healthy fish populations in Ah’ta’apq Creek.