Operations Director, Dawn Roumieu
Watershed Watch continues work in our home watershed through our support of both the Kwikwetlem Salmon Restoration Project and the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable.
Kwikwəƛ̓əm Salmon Restoration Program
The Kwikwetlem Salmon Restoration Program (KSRP) is moving into its fifth year of a 10-year project to rebuild Coquitlam River sockeye populations. The sockeye run was wiped out following the construction of the Coquitlam Dam in the early 1900s but a remnant population persisted as kokanee behind the dam, forced to adapt to living their full lifecycle in freshwater. In the spring of 2005, an experimental springtime release of water through Coquitlam Dam resulted in a migration of previously land-locked juvenile kokanee salmon from the reservoir where they migrated down the Coquitlam River. In the summer of 2007, two adult sockeye salmon were captured at the base of the Coquitlam dam that were genetically identified as being returns from those 2005 smolts. Unfortunately, in the following decade, sockeye returns on the Coquitlam River were poor and the Kwikwetlem Salmon Restoration Program was developed to rebuild the run. The program partners include Kwikwetlem First Nation, BC Hydro, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Metro Vancouver and DFO.
Sockeye trapped in the Coquitlam River in 2022. Credit Jason Macnair
Work is now underway to build a conservation hatchery that broke ground late last year. Annual work is also performed to monitor the migration of juvenile salmon past the dam, as well as the return of any adult fish in the summer and fall. Last year, one returning adult sockeye was captured in the Coquitlam River, however, genetic testing revealed this fish as belonging to a population of sockeye from Sakinaw Lake, near Pender Harbour. This finding is interesting, as sockeye originating from Sakinaw Lake have been captured before in Kwikwetlem River in 2011, 2014 and 2016. Sakinaw Lake sockeye are an endangered run and following a population crash in 2006, all fish are now descendants of hatchery-origin fish.
With another six years of work to go, we are looking forward to seeing the return of Kwikwetlem River sockeye and to finding answers to the many questions that have been raised by this ongoing initiative.
Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable
Watershed Watch continues to support the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable (CRWR) as Financial Trustee, attending meetings and participating in sub-committees.
2022 brought notable advances for the CRWR, as the return of public events after a two-year hiatus brought renewed opportunities for outreach and education. The Roundtable was also able to make progress on strategies to curtail invasive species and litter in the watershed in collaboration with partners in the municipal, educational, and arts sectors. Advisory action was initiated to support Low Impact Development in the watershed, while other research focused on building the Roundtable’s capacity.
The CRWR Annual Report can be viewed here.
In February, Watershed Watch participated in the CRWR’s Strategic Planning session to review the successes and challenges in implementing the Roundtable’s mission and explore activities for the upcoming year.
Highlighted activities for 2023 include:
- Maintaining the rain garden and Norm Fletcher memorial in Lions Park,
- Providing outreach and education at local events including Hoy Scott Watershed Society’s Salmon Leave Home and Salmon Come Home, Port Coquitlam’s Rivers and Trails Festival and Coquitlam’s Canada Day celebrations,
- Organizing Coquitlam River streamside litter clean-ups with volunteers,
- Continuing Low Impact Development Research with the UBC Environmental Law Centre
- Hosting another Roundtable public meeting to raise awareness about the watershed and the Roundtable’s objectives.
Watershed Watch looks forward to supporting these Roundtable activities that promote the health and long-term sustainability of our home watershed.