Restoring the Chenatha River Watershed

Protecting and restoring aquatic and terrestrial resources is at the foundation of the Toquaht Nation’s principals and goals.

Background

Since 2009 Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS) has been working with the Toquaht Nation on the Chenatha River Watershed Restoration Project (Also known as Twin Rivers). Industrial logging has been ongoing in this area since the early 1970’s, and many streams have been significantly damaged or altered by human impacts on the landscape. Historically this system supported large numbers of coho, chum and pink salmon, along with healthy populations of steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout and rainbow trout. Unfortunately early timber harvesting practices were not designed to protect streams or fisheries resources, and as a result the Chenatha watershed has experienced significant declines in resident and anadramous fish populations. Logging and road building in the watershed has resulted in reduced fish access, loss of habitat, poor water quality and altered hydrological function all of which have been contributing to declining salmonid populations.

The Chenatha Watershed Restoration Project has been designed to help rebuild wild Pacific salmon populations by using habitat restoration techniques to accelerate the natural recovery of this damaged watershed and restore wild fish habitat. Like all CWFS projects, this project incorporates modern science and traditional ecological knowledge into all aspects of planning, project design and execution.

Project to date

Work on this project began with a watershed level assessment, which looked at up slope stability and high risk road crossings, riparian forest conditions and in-stream fish habitat requirements, from this assessment restoration priorities areas were established restoration prescriptions were developed.

Brief summary of restoration to date: Deactivation of multiple road crossings and the removal of two fail bridges. Planting on 4000+ native trees and shrubs to increase bank stability and return complexity to the riparian forest. In-stream we have cleared debris jams throughout the lower 3.5km of chenatha river to increase fish accessibility. Additionally a 120m side channel was excavated and enhanced with LWD structures to increase spawning, refuge and nursery habitat. We have also constructed 15 log and rock structures which create pool and cover habitat while mitigating bank erosion. We have also completed countless spawner surveys, installed and monitored bat houses, hosted 10 volunteer planting and educational days onsite

Central Westcoast Forest Society and the Toquaht Nation have been supported on this project by: Environment Canada EcoAction Community Funding Program, Pacific Salmon Foundation Community Salmon Program, Patagonia World Trout Initiative, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, the Small Change Fund and the Leonard Schein Foundation, Word Wildlife Foundation, The University of Victoria, Coca Cola Company and Tree Canada.