Final phase Squamish Training Berm deconstruction gets approval
SQUAMISH, February 10, 2023:
The Central Estuary Restoration Project, aka Restore the Shore, has been given the green light to continue with the final phase of the modification of the Squamish River training berm in 2023.
“The removal of the remaining sections of the berm will return the Squamish River estuary to its natural state," said Sxwíxwtn (Wilson Wiliiams), an elected councillor and spokesperson for the Squamish Nation. "It is our sincere hope that this collaborative restoration effort will see a return of keystone species like herring and our critically endangered Chinook salmon stocks back to the river estuary. This is good for our Nation, to see the river as it once was, a watershed that provided for our People. Not only will it benefit Squamish for generations to come, it is also another important step towards reconciliation as we move forward together with the communities that live in our territory.”
“This is an incredible milestone and a huge win for restoration initiatives and habitat recovery not only in Squamish but on the Pacific west coast of Canada,” said former Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman who now works on the project team. “This is a federally, provincially and regionally significant project that is about so much more than simply the dismantling of an archaic piece of industrial infrastructure. Removing this structure will not only breathe new life into this important natural asset and the diverse ecological services it provides, it is an invaluable and necessary step in reconciling a past that callously dismissed the Squamish Nation’s culture and rights so many years ago.”
After an initial 300 meters of the training berm was modified in January-March 2022, the CERP team has been monitoring sediment transport in the area and proceeded with the necessary applications through Transport Canada’s Navigable Waters, and the province’s Water Sustainability Act and Wildlife act. Now that all approvals and permits have been secured, the modification of the remaining 550 meters of berm to the yellow gate will begin mid February. The area will be restricted to the public during the construction period which is anticipated to wrap up by the end of May. When this phase of the project is complete, a total of 850 metres of the training berm will have been modified.
“The bulk of work in the coming weeks will be scheduled around the low-tide periods, which means much of the work will be during the evening hours,” said Edith Tobe, Executive Director of the Squamish River Watershed Society which has partnered with Squamish Nation and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the CERP project for more than 5 years. “This project has taken over 50 years to become a reality and we are very excited to be part of a larger initiative to restore Chinook salmon as part of the Salish Sea recovery that will help to benefit the Southern Resident Killer Whale populations!”
During the construction over the next few months DFO and other qualified environmental practitioners will be on site to supervise the construction operations, monitor for potential herring spawning in the area, and ensure all works are undertaken with minimal environmental disturbance.
“There is a possibility of herring spawn at the end of February into early March,” said DFO’s Murray Manson. “We will be closely monitoring the area and if and when there is herring spawning in the area, we will take the necessary steps to ensure they have every chance of success.”
During the active construction period February 20-May 15, the southern portion of training berm will be off limits to the public. Anyone travelling on the berm during this time is asked to be vigilant as heavy machinery and large trucks will be active in the area.
Squamish Chief Newspaper
Crews are set to remove an additional 550 metres of the Squamish Spit this month.
The project’s goal is to dismantle the Spit so that premature salmon can access the Estuary, where they can grow strong enough before venturing into the deep waters of Howe Sound.
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The Squamish River Watershed Society has partnered with the Squamish Nation, the Healthy Waters Initiative and the Fish And Wildlife Compensation Program to release a new report called “Natural Capital Assets: The Squamish Estuary” Click to read more