WHAT IS RESTORE THE SHORE?
The Restore the Shore project (aka Central Estuary Restoration Project) aims to bring back the health of the estuary in Squamish for today and future generations. It is a three-phase project that builds on almost 30 years of restoration efforts to improve fish habitat, tidal connectivity and enhance overall estuarine function.
Over 3,650 square kilometers of coastal rainforest drain into the Skwelwil'em Squamish estuary, which is created by the flow of the Squamish River into Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound. The Restore the Shore project will re-naturalize over 144 hectares of this valuable estuarine habitat - equivalent to the size of over 200 soccer fields - for endangered Chinook salmon and the interconnected ecosystems that rely on it to thrive including the main food source for the southern resident killer whales.
It is also a significant and important act of reconciliation with the Squamish Nation, the original stewards and knowledge-keepers of the unceded lands upon which we live.
Built in 1971, the Squamish River training berm was designed to confine the river to the west side of the valley to facilitate port development in the Squamish Estuary in particular a large coal export facility that was never built because of public outcry and environmental concerns.
THE 3 PHASES OF RESTORATION
Phase 1- 2018-2020
Goal: To improve connectivity between the river and the estuary to allow nutrient rich waters and some fish to enter central estuary.
This initial phase replaced two significantly undersized culverts in the training berm to improve fish access and allow water and nutrient-rich sediment transfer into the central channel. This resulted in new large fish-friendly box culverts placed mid-way down the berm at Culvert #3 (completed in 2019) and Culvert #4 (completed in 2020).
Phase 2 - 2021-2023
Goal: To modify the lower section of the training berm to reconnect the lower estuary and allow for smoltifying salmon easier access to their rearing ground in the estuary (2021-2023).
Phase two decommissioned and removed 850 metres of the training berm at its southernmost tip. The initial phase of Phase 2 involved removing 300m in Jan-April 2022.
The removal of the remaining 550m (of the initial 850m) of training berm began mid February 2023 and was completed mid May 2023.
An island was left at the very south end of the berm for recreational uses including: wind sports, paddle boarding, kayaking, picnicking etc).
Phase 3 - 2024...
Install a flow control device under the CN rail spur to re-water historical estuarine channels close to the downtown.