Squamish Estuary: reconnecting ocean and river
Aroha Miller, Manager, Ocean Watch, Ocean Wise Research Institute
Excerpt from 2020 article
The Squamish estuary is located at the confluence of the Squamish River and the northern end of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Over the past century, the estuary has undergone numerous changes including infilling to create the townsite of Squamish, construction of roads, rail, and industrial ports and logging
Read the full article to see what else is happening.
Background: Squamish Estuary. (Credit: Tracey Saxby, Visual Science)
What’s been done since 2017?
The table below reports on progress made on recommended actions from the previous 2017 article, where identified. Many of these require ongoing action.
|2017 Action||Action Taken|
|Individual and Organization Actions|
|Increase educational and awareness campaigns that support widespread understanding of the importance of estuary health to all life in Átl’ḵa7tsem/ Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound.||Signage has been posted by the SRWS and other organizations along various trails within the Squamish estuary.|
|Government Action and Policy|
|Continue to support and facilitate education, monitoring and restoration activities of local groups in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Provide funding assistance and partnership opportunities where feasible.||DFO has partnered with SRWS and provided staff support on the CERP.|
|Reclaim and rehabilitate estuary habitat that has been modified by past development.||This is being achieved for example by the work of the SRWS, e.g., CERP as outlined above; the Nature Conservancy of B.C. is working to enhance B.C. estuaries (see: website); Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw/Squamish Nation is actively involved in estuary restoration projects.|
|Recognize the importance of estuary habitat for spawning and rearing salmon.||DFO has partnered with the SWRS to restore and reconnect the estuary to improve habitat function and fish access.|
What can you do?
A detailed overview of recommended actions relating to climate change is included in The path to zero carbon municipalities. In some cases, no progress was identified on previous recommended actions; these remain listed below.
- Volunteer individually or as an organization with one of the local environment groups (i.e., Squamish Streamkeepers, Squamish Environment Society, Squamish River Watershed Society, or Squamish Climate Action Network) and learn about the estuary on a walk with any of these organizations.
- Report ecological information to local citizen science programs (see Citizen Science, 2020).
Government Action and Policy:
- Increase educational and awareness campaigns that support widespread understanding of the importance of estuary health to all life in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Ensure accurate and comprehensive information is available and reviewed by area planners and decision makers.
- Explore the possibility of increasing the size of the Skwelwil’em Wildlife Management Area or create more Wildlife Management Areas to increase protection throughout the estuary.
- Protect all estuary habitats from residential, commercial, or industrial development.