Unplug This Blog!

Vedder River salmon get trees, plants in restoration effort

Pink salmon in Vedder River
Pink salmon on the Vedder River near Chilliwack, where BC Hydro-supported restoration efforts to side channels of the river have improved salmon habitat. (Photo by Lisa Paradis)

Salmon habitat improved thanks to volunteers' efforts, BC Hydro support

Posted by Rob Klovance

If salmon had longer fins, they might be tree huggers. It turns out they love the shade that plants and trees bring, and dine on the insects that thrive with an abundance of waterside growth.

Thanks in part to BC Hydro's support of the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition, four side-channels of the Vedder River have been restored to improve salmon habitat. And included in those restoration efforts was the planting of 2,600 trees, shrubs and ferns by community volunteers.

Those volunteers also hand-collect thousands of seeds from native plants for re-dispersal. Native plants are critical for young salmon because they provide shade and support the aquatic insects they feed on.

For more than a decade, BC Hydro has been a major supporter of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. And last year, BC Hydro's Community Investment group provided funding to the Foundation's Community Salmon Program.

"It supports volunteer-led salmon conservation groups who create a culture of conservation in their communities," explains BC Hydro manager Pia Nagpal. "These groups deliver education programs, operate hatcheries that engage local volunteers and partner with First Nations on shared stewardship of local watersheds."

Among the six projects supported by BC Hydro through the program in 2013 was the restoration of four Vedder River side channels that had dried up due to dyking. Side channels are vital to the sustainability of salmon.

"[Side channels] provide stable habitat for spawning and growing salmon because they're calm and less affected by seasonal fluctuations in water level," says Michael Meneer of the Pacific Salmon Foundation

The Vedder River is a tributary of the Chilliwack River, which was once on the Endangered Rivers of B.C. list. Due to extensive restoration efforts, the river has since been removed from the list.

The project is part of a long-term management plan for the area that will see new spaces for the public to enjoy nature, such as a new campsite, new trails, and enhanced fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Learn more about the Vedder River Floodplain, and how to get involved in related volunteer efforts.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.