Completed in 2020, the Millstream Fishway removed a longstanding barrier to returning adult coho salmon, opening seven kilometres of previously inaccessible spawning and juvenile rearing habitat. The project also enables cutthroat trout to move freely up and down Millstream Creek.
We expect this project, the largest we have taken on, will significantly increase the number of coho returning to the creek in the coming years.
The Millstream Watershed drains a 26-square kilometre area, from the Gowland Range in the Highlands, through Langford, Colwood and View Royal, and empties into Esquimalt Harbour.
Volunteers from the Goldstream Hatchery have worked for decades to build five fishways in the lower section of Millstream Creek, enabling adult coho salmon to navigate natural and artificial fish barriers. The Goldstream volunteers also installed a motion-detecting camera at the first fishway. As testimony to the success of this work, over 700 adult coho returning to spawn were counted in 2016.
However, an additional seven kilometres of high-quality habitat in the upper reaches of the creek was blocked by a barrier culvert at Atkins Avenue, near Mill Hill Regional Park in Langford.
We began in 2016 to design and fundraise for a new fishway to eliminate the barrier to fish passage.
Consisting of a series of 13 step-pools, the fishway provides access for coho and cutthroat to ascend to the culvert. The culvert itself was relined with concrete to extend its life and steel baffles were installed to aid fish movement through it.
Opening previously inaccessible habitat in many cases is 10 times more effective than restoring degraded habitat. We estimate that upwards of 3,000 more coho could eventually return to spawn in Millstream Creek each year.
Now that the fishway project is mostly complete, we will lead a community-based environmental stewardship program to ensure its long-term success by improving habitat upstream
To learn about the fishway, check out our webinar:
BEFORE - This culvert was inaccessible to salmon
We estimate that upwards of 3,000 more coho could eventually return to spawn in Millstream Creek each year.
AFTER - A new, salmon-friendly fishway