Getting Goldstream River Going in the Right Direction

A large, woody debris jam, formed during a flood in February 2020 along the Goldstream River near Victoria, set the scene for several significant improvements to be made in the area.

You see, this important river supports critical salmon and trout spawning on southern Vancouver Island and runs alongside the Trans-Canada Highway, through Goldstream Provincial Park. The banks of Goldstream River also host many human visitors who come to watch the return of the spawning salmon who call the riverbed “home”. If left unchecked, this debris jam could have worsened, potentially impacting fish migration, causing habitat concerns; not to mention threatening to erode the section of Highway 1 along with it.

A “before restoration” shot of the debris jam and rockfall along the Goldstream River.
A “before restoration” shot of the debris jam and rockfall along the Goldstream River.

Time was of the essence and ministry staff (along with some help from  our partners in the area – Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association and BC Parks) were up for the challenge of restoring the riverbed and more. A detailed plan was made to carefully remove the debris jam and stabilize the eroding embankment along the jam area, but the plan didn’t end there.

Staff also salvaged wood from the debris jam and re-purposed it downstream, in less constricted areas, to form important pooling areas for fish and local wildlife. And, because healthy rivers make healthy salmon, we also removed nearby rockfall debris (which was acting as “bad rock”) from the creek and to increase salmon spawning success, installed beds of spawning gravel (good rock), as well as native plantings (such as sword ferns, Oregon grape, salal, Indian plum and salmonberry, and a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees like bigleaf maple, western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir) throughout the riparian zone for added biodiversity.


In-channel boulders were also used to construct a riffle and pools.  Because the streambed was dominated by cobble and boulder substrate (too coarse for spawning nest construction), it was removed and replaced by a gravel size more suitable for spawning. Ministry staff and stakeholders in the area will monitor these improvements to make to be sure they are working for everyone who visits the area.

After restoration shot taken November, 2020. A downstream view along constructed spawning areas  with chum salmon spawning through Goldstream Provincial Park.  We are happy to report that Chum spawning activity is much higher along the restoration zone, compared to untreated riverbed sections.
“After” restoration shot taken November, 2020. A downstream view along constructed spawning areas  with chum salmon spawning through Goldstream Provincial Park.  We are happy to report that Chum spawning activity is much higher along the restoration zone, compared to untreated riverbed sections.

Our environmental management team works across the province to protect the roadside environment (and beyond) by making sure our transportation infrastructure is developed and maintained in an environmentally responsible way. We also work closely with first nations, local community groups, and other stakeholders to make sure the work we do is in line with local needs.

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