WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
An estuary develops where rivers meet the sea and sediment rich, fresh-flowing river water mingles with tidal saltwater to become partly salty or brackish, forming some of the most biologically productive and valuable ecosystems on earth.
Estuaries make up only 2.3 percent of BC’s coastline. Among the most productive ecosystems on earth, estuaries provide essential ecological services like pollutant and sediment filtration, flood water absorption, storm surge dissipation, climate change moderation and carbon sequestration.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
It will restore vitally important habitat for endangered Chinook salmon. The berm was put into the Squamish estuary to accommodate a coal port that was never built, and was do without consideration for the impact it would have on the flow of water, the habitat it provides and the ecosystem that thrives there. Consequently salmon stocks plummeted after the berm was put in as juvenile salmonids were separated from the protective nutrient-rich nursery that the estuary provides. And this impact was far reaching to affect the entire interconnected ecosystem including endangered Southern Resident orcas, eagles, bears, dolphins and birds.
It is an act of reconciliation for the Skwxkwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), the original stewards and knowledge-keepers of these Coast Salish lands. The berm was constructed without engaging, consulting or even considering the profound cultural significance of salmon and the estuary to the Skwxkwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). The berm literally and physically divided Squamish Nation villages and negatively impacted the local Chinook salmon stocks, a species of critical cultural importance and foundational to the Squamish people's sustenance for time immemorial. Today the berm serves as a reminder of the historic and ongoing impact of colonization, and this is why its removal is an important and needed step in reconciliation.
The District of Squamish recognizes that we’re in a climate crisis and is actively developing plans to not only reduce our carbon emissions, but protect our community for future generations. This project is a strong example of how the restoration of a natural capital asset can greatly restore and augment the ecological services it provides the community.