Colquitz River is home to both cutthroat and coho salmon. In recent years, the number of coho spawners has declined, however, even a few spawning salmon give us hope that with proper habitat restoration, these fish can recover and succeed in urban watersheds with their incredible resilience.
For decades, dedicated volunteers and community stewardship groups have worked to rebuild fish populations and improve the health of the watershed. In 2019 and 2020, we partnered with the District of Saanich to restore and enhance additional Colquitz River habitat in a local park.
The Colquitz River watershed has extensive urban and suburban landscapes and land uses that impact the natural environment. These include lower flows during summer, higher flows in the winter due to impervious surfaces, increased sedimentation and bank erosion, loss of riparian vegetation, higher water temperatures and an overall reduction of habitat.
Despite these human-caused impacts, the watershed offers remarkable opportunities for restoration and conservation efforts. This is largely a result of the foresight of District of Saanich staff for keeping the river channel out of pipes and open within a park trail system.
With the help of the Friends of the Colquitz Mainstem and working in partnership with the District of Saanich, we helped restore 120 metres of riparian and instream habitat in Colquitz Creek near Eastridge Crescent and Copley East Park in 2019.
The restoration project added rock-crests with spawning gravel, and large rocks and woody debris to enhance fish habitat and protect against erosion. Riparian areas were prepped for replanting by adding healthy, clean soil and then were replanted with native plants by volunteers. Newly replanted areas were protected with split-rail fencing.
Following the success of the 2019 project, we again partnered with the District in 2020 to restore an additional 80 metres of habitat, creating a total of roughly 200 metres of continuous, high-quality habitat.
We continue to work with the District and support the Friends of Colquitz Mainstem to coordinate and implement stream monitoring, riparian planting and maintenance. We also plan to help improve more mainstem fish habitat in conjunction with the World Fisheries Trust and their internship program.
To learn more about the Colquitz, check out our webinar:
Setting up a dam on the Colquitz River
The restoration project added rock-crests with spawning gravel, and large rocks and woody debris to enhance fish habitat and protect against erosion.
Colquitz reach restored in 2019
Colquitz River - Copley Park Restoration
Project done by UVic Community Mapping on Colquitz River restoration.
The process of restoring the stream has resulted in a healthier stream for a variety of native species such as coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, otters and grey blue herons just to name a few. However, the continued protection of the river is integral to making sure these positive changes last!
The (ongoing) Colquitz River restoration project, launched by Peninsula Streams and the District of Saanich in 2019, aims to restore ecological integrity and resilience to this urban watershed system.
Follow the link HERE to read the project paper in full.