The Atleo River is located in Ahousaht First Nation traditional territory in Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island, approximately 10 km northeast of the Ahousaht Village, between Herbert Inlet and Miller Channel. It is the largest drainage basin in the Bedingfield Watershed Group. The river, and its main tributary (Barra Creek), offers several kilometers of excellent, low-gradient, valley bottom, spawning, rearing and overwintering habitat for both anadromous and resident fish species. The watershed also provides habitat for black bear, Rosevelt Elk, and coast black-tailed deer; all of which are traditional resources that have long been used by the Ahousaht people, providing sustenance, ceremonial and societal needs as well as an economic base for the community.
The Atleo River supports all seven species of Pacific salmon: coho, Chinook, chum, pink, sockeye, winter run steelhead and sea run cutthroat trout. Resident fish stocks include Dolly Varden char, as well as rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout. Three-spined stickleback, coast-range sculpin and Pacific lamprey have also been found in the Atleo River watershed.
Central Westcoast Forest Society, working with the Ahousaht First Nation and the Ahousaht-Mainstream Salmon Enhancement Subcommittee, conducted a Level I and II Fisheries Habitat Assessment on the anadromous length of the Atleo River to identify limits to fish production and to develop a restoration plan.