Conuma River Side Channel

 

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The Conuma River side channel in an early phase of construction

The idea for a side channel was conceived as a response to changing conditions on the Conuma River: forest harvesting in the upper watershed had caused changes to the hydrologic regime in the Conuma watershed, resulting in very low success rates of wild salmon spawning in the river. The idea grew and evolved over several years, and in 2007 the Nootka Sound Watershed Society, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada engineers and technicians, began a focused planning initiative which included several site visits, the installation of groundwater test wells, and site surveys.

 

 

 

 

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The Conuma River side channel complete with large woody debris

Plans were developed, funds organized, and on June 23rd, 2008 the first phase of construction began. This saw the completion of a 920m long groundwater channel which created a wetted area of 7620m2. Phase 2 of construction began June 1st, 2010 and was completed in one month. This phase saw the construction of a 275m upper channel, which connected the lower 920m of groundwater channel to the Conuma River Hatchery’s surface water outflow for a total length of 1195m. This connection provided controlled and therefore more stable rearing conditions in the lower channel.

 

 

 

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DFO staff performing juvenile salmonid monitoring

 

A five year monitoring program concluded that the Conuma River Side Channel project had successfully created suitable Coho rearing habitat. Additionally, hatchery staff report seeing adult Chum, Coho and Chinook salmon in the channel every fall

 

 

 

 

 

Want to see the Conuma River Side Channel for yourself? The side channel can be accessed through the Conuma River Hatchery property. From Campbell River, take Highway 28 for 85km to Gold River. Then, drive west on Head Bay Forest Service road towards Tahsis for 37km until you reach the Conuma River Hatchery on your left hand side. Hatchery staff are always on hand and eager to show you around!

Thank you to our many partners who made this project possible:

  • Grieg Seafood
  • Western Forest Products (FIA)
  • Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Pacific Salmon Foundation
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Living Rivers