Salmon stream restoration FAQ

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

  1. What kinds of fish live in the Kennedy Flats Watershed?
  2. Why are salmon so important to the Kennedy Flats Watershed?
  3. When can I see salmon in the streams?
  4. What makes certain vegetation a problem for the streams?
  5. How many years will it take for the streams to be restored?
  6. What equipment is used for stream restoration?
  7. How much does stream restoration cost?
  8. What can I do to help?
  9. Where can I learn more about stream restoration?
  10. Do you have plans for the future? 

What kinds of fish live in the Kennedy Flats Watershed?

The streams in the Kennedy Flats Watershed, next to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, are home to both spawning and young coho, chinook, chum, steelhead and pink salmon, as well as cutthroat and rainbow trout. Other species, such as stickleback, sculpin and lampray, also rely on these streams.

Why are salmon so important to the Kennedy Flats Watershed?

Salmon are a traditional food source for both people and wildlife. The Nuu-chah-nulth people of the west coast of Vancouver Island have relied on salmon to feed their families since time immemorial. Bears, wolves, racoons and other wildlife feed on spawning salmon as they return to the streams of their birth. Dead salmon also fertilize the old-growth rainforest as their bodies decay and the nutrients seep into the soil. In turn, the rainforest provides a home for spawning and baby salmon.

When can I see salmon in the streams?

Salmon spawn in the fall, generally between September and December. Coho salmon are the last to spawn and are often seen into late December.

What makes certain vegetation a problem for the streams?

Salmonberry and red alder occur naturally in the coastal temperate rainforest ecosystem and are the first to become established in disturbed areas. As these species grow very quickly and abundantly, they tend to suppress light and restrict conifer growth.

Both plant species share particular characteristics that enable them to thrive in disturbed areas. They are short-lived, fast-growing, densely distributed and have weak root systems. These traits create unstable stream banks and cause heavy erosion which then washes silt into the streams. Silt in spawning streams is detrimental to the entire life cycle of salmon and other stream inhabitants. For instance, if salmon eggs are buried in silt, the flow of oxygen is cut off and the salmon do not survive.

How many years will it take for the streams to be restored?

The improvement will be gradual. It may take over a hundred years for the restoration to be completed.

What equipment is used for stream restoration?

Equipment includes chainsaws, log winches, and shovels. Helicopters are also sometimes needed to move large logs.When the stream-bed is accessible, restoration crews will use mini excavators and dumpers to move sand and gravel around.

How much does stream restoration cost?

Since 1994, over $9 million has been invested into these restoration efforts by different parties. These funds have been managed by the non-profit Central Westcoast Forest Society. The majority of these funds go towards salaries since much of the work is done by hand. In the future, further restoration funds will be needed to continue this important restoration work.In general, salmon stream restoration may cost up to $1 million per 1 km of stream length depending on how badly it is degraded and how difficult it is to access the location.

What can I do to help?

  • Be responsible with single-use plastics (i.e. don’t use them).
  • Pack out whatever you bring with yourself onto the landscape.
  • Learn more about salmon streams and why they are important, and share what you learn with others.
  • Volunteer with different organizations to help restore salmon streams, including your local Stream Keepers organization.
  • Support stream restoration efforts in your region.

Where can I learn more about stream restoration?

Different local organizations contribute to stream restoration in this area. To learn more, please visit their websites:

Do you have plans for the future?

Yes, we have recently begun a sockeye stream restoration project in the Cheewaht Lake watershed. The watershed partially falls within the West Coast Trail Unit of the national park reserve and is within the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. The forest northeast and east of Cheewaht Lake extending to the national park reserve boundary was logged between 1984 and mid-2000s. Logging activities and subsequent bank failure upslope from the national park reserve have degraded spawning and rearing salmon habitat in the national park reserve. The overall objective is to restore the lower salmon-bearing sections of Cheewaht Lake tributaries within the boundaries of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to resemble their pre-impact condition. This work will take place between July 2020 and March 2022.

Following completion of Cheewaht streams restoration, we may refocus onrestoring additional streams within the Kennedy Flats.

Salmon stream restoration at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve


Parks Canada Logo.

Video title: Salmon stream restoration at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

[salmon swimming in stream]

[Gloria Frank] Without salmon I would feel like there’s an empty hole in my heart.


[Gloria Frank on-camera interview]

Lower thirds: Gloria Frank - Elder, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

I really think that our world as we know it would cease to exist.

[montage of streams and surrounding environment]

[Jessica Hutchinson] Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is made up of a network of small stream systems. Historically, these small streams were very productive.

[Jessica Hutchinson on-camera interview]

Lower thirds: Jessica Hutchinson - Executive Director, Central Westcoast Forest Society

They supported healthy populations of wild Pacific salmon.

[montage of old logging and resulting damage]

Close to 30% of the Park was logged prior to the land being set aside for National Park purposes. This logging severely impacted healthy stream habitats and caused the salmon to almost disappear.

[montage of people restoring streams]

Parks Canada, along with local First Nations and Central Westcoast Forest Society, are working to restore these streams and bring salmon back to the park.

[salmon swimming in stream]

[old logging photos]

[Yuri Zharikov] Just before the Park was established about a quarter of this area was logged.

[Yuri Zharikov on-camera interview]

Lower thirds: Yuri Zharikov - Ecologist, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

In those years often creeks were logged to the bank so there wasn’t even a buffer left around those creeks.

[old logging photos and footage]

So, with the trees removed and the extensive rainfall that we get here a lot of debris, sediment, and everything should not be in the creek ended up in the creek.

[Jessica Hutchinson on-camera interview]

[Jessica Hutchinson] And this caused the stream to not flow properly. It caused sediment to back up and fish could no longer access because they couldn’t get through these debris jams

[stream full of large logs and woody debris]

and the sediment sort of in-filled and buried the natural spawning gravels.

[Yuri Zharikov on-camera interview]

[Yuri Zharikov] When salmon decline all the other things, in response, they decline as well.

[black bears in forest and near stream]

For example, bears rely on salmon in order to acquire fat reserves to hibernate. If salmon runs fail, bears suffer.

[salmon swimming in stream]


[Jennifer Yakimyshin on-screen interview]

Lower thirds: Jennifer Yakimyshin - Ecologist, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

because they rely on both fresh water and marine systems to complete their life cycle.

[juvenile salmon swimming in stream]

Young salmon start out their life in the freshwater creeks

[montage of rivers and creeks]

and they’ll spend a short time in these creeks until they make their migration into the ocean.

[ocean and surround islands]

In the marine environment, in the oceans, they’re able to feed on rich marine foods and, basically,

[Jennifer Yakimyshin on-screen interview]

pack it on and they get bigger faster than they could ever get in the freshwater creeks.

[salmon swimming in stream]

And after 2-4 years they’re able to come back to their natal streams and they’re able to do this by a process of chemoreception, which basically means they smell their way back to those creeks. And in these creeks, that’s where the adults are going to spawn and give birth to the new young of the next generation.

[montage of salmon spawning]

[Warren Wartig] Once they spawn they die, and they become a great protein source for dozens of different species.

[Warren Wartig on-screen interview]

Lower thirds: Warren Wartig - Professional Bioligist, Central Westcoast Forest Soceity

And the bears and eagles and seagulls will pack the morts, the dead fish,

[montage of bears and eagles eating salmon, and despositing salmon in the riparian area of the forest]

way up into the forest and actually fertilize the forest.

[Yuri Zharikov] So in essence you could say that salmon accessing and spawning in those streams they feed the trees that grow on stream banks.

[Yuri Zharikov on-camera interview]

So that’s why those trees grow the largest: they actually have salmon in them.

[large cedar tree]

[Joe Martin] And you know as the people on the West Coast here have a saying, Hishook ish tsawalk, everything is one.

[Joe Martin on-screen interview]

Lower thirds: Joe Martin - Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Or, everything is connected. And so it’s important that we all understand that.

[old growth forest]

[Yuri Zharikov] The Pacific Rim has been established to protect a piece of temperate rainforest,

[aerial view of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve]

and salmon-bearing streams are a key feature of such a forest. Overall, the degradation of this area as a salmon producing environment has been considerable.

[people working on stream restoration]

And so any restoration that we can afford surely helps to revert that trend and that condition.

[Yuri Zharikov on-camera interview]

[Gloria Frank on-camera interview]

[Gloria Frank] There was tonnes of salmon here, every kind of salmon…right from Coho to Sockeye. There was really lots; there was more than enough to go around. But we only took what we needed; never more, never less.

[Joe Martin driving boat in Clayoquot Sound]

[Joe Martin] You know the people have been here for thousands of years, and we’re not newcomers to this part of the world.

[Joe Martin on-screen interview]

So, people did have an intimate knowledge of all these areas, you know?

[Local First Nations stream restoration workers monitoring river]

And those songs and those dances that our people do have, they’re basically teachings about natural law and, you know, we all live under natural law.

[Joe Martin on-screen interview]

And we’re not allowed to just go there and take and, you know, not be aware of the consequences.

[montage of people restoring damaged streams]

[Jessica Hutchinson]We’re hoping to restore this area by bringing back the habitat required to support healthy salmon populations. And we do that by repositioning and removing some of the large and small woody debris that was dumped into these creeks and placing this large woody debris to provide certain habitat features that are required by salmon. We also add spawning gravel to improve the spawning grounds. We plant stream-side vegetation and trees to help restore the vegetation on the banks so they’ll provide shade and cover for the salmon in the streams and help regulate water temperatures.

[stream culvert]

[Warren Wartig] One key thing that we look for are barriers. Sometimes there’s a real bad culvert that was put in, and some of them we call hung culverts

[Warren Wartig on-screen interview]

because the drop out of the culvert is higher than what a fish can jump to get to the upstream.

[montage of culvert replacement at Sand Hill Creek]

By replacing one culvert on Sand Hill Creek we opened up 18 kilometers of habitat.

[Jessica Hutchinson monitoring stream]

[Jessica Hutchinson]Through our monitoring efforts we have been able to measure a great number of successes

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