Banner Photo: View down Howe Sound. (Credit: Rich Duncan)

2020 Rating

2020 Rationale

Many positive actions are being taken to repair this critically important habitat; however, monitoring of these efforts is needed to measure their impacts.

2017 Rating

2017 Rationale

Two decades of revitalization efforts have returned large areas of the Squamish Estuary to a vital wildlife habitat and reversed the effects of human activity and industry. Yet the impact of industry and human intervention will be felt for a long time in this valuable aquatic area.

The following is an excerpt from the full updated article. Download the full 2020 article for all content and references.

Squamish Estuary: reconnecting ocean and river

Authors: Edith Tobe, Executive Director, Squamish River Watershed Society

Aroha Miller, Manager, Ocean Watch, Ocean Wise Research Institute

Reviewer: Lora Tryon, Senior Biologist, Lake Trail Environmental Consulting

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.

action-individual Individual and Organization Actions:

    • 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).

action-governmentGovernment 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.
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