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.
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.
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.
If you found this article interesting, check out these similar stories:
- How We Put Driftwood and Debris to Work for BC Highways
- Why We Use Wildlife Overpasses on BC Highways
- How Adopt A Highway Volunteers Are Armed for Weeds War
- How Thinking Like a Fish Helped Us Build the Heart Creek Bridges
Do you have any questions about this, or any other work we do? Let us know in the comments below.