Helping to create thriving communities and healthy environments
Urban Coho in Colquitz Creek
Engaging citizens in science, restoration, and monitoring
World Fisheries Trust is collaborating with Colquitz Salmonid Stewardship and Education Society, the University of Victoria, the University of Manitoba, Stantec, and others to expand on the successes of the fish-fence at Colquitz Creek. Connecting scientific research, restorating activities, education, and monitoring with a project that engages citizens creates an empowered community of local stewards.
Urban salmon stocks, while generally small, are increasingly being recognized as key components of future salmon survival. While not generally the focus of governmental management or restoration efforts, they contribute valuable genetic diversity to help counter effects of climate change and are keystone species both biologically for the urban streams and socially for galvanizing public interest and engagement in conservation. Nevertheless, there are large gaps in knowledge on what keeps salmon coming back to sometimes quite hostile environments and lots of need for increased public engagement.
Colquitz Creek and the Gorge Waterway, are uniquely situated in the core of BC’s Capital Regional District on the lower end of Vancouver Island. Colquitz Creek has supported a surprisingly resilient stock of Coho and sea-run cutthroat trout, largely without hatchery enhancement, but with a dedicated community support group. Despite doomsday predictions of salmon extinctions, this run has seen record returns in the last couple of years – providing opportunities for increased community engagement as well as research on limiting factors. The Gorge and Colquitz Creek are particularly well situated for this work, both due to their biologically characteristics and their social situation.
Smolt traps will compliment current enumeration with information on young salmon. Characterizing the traits of juvenile Coho salmon in urban environments will allow management actions that allow for better conservation of these valuable stocks, examination of otoliths will provide information on habitats used by the urban salmon during their lives, and signage and Gorge Waterway Nature House displays will encourage hands-on involvement by knowledgeable and engaged citizens.