Improving spawning habitat in Jordan River

Project Year: 2017-2018

Project Lead

Pacheedaht First Nation

Watershed/Sub-region

Coastal Region

Jordan

Project Type

Habitat-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution

$66,360

Action Plan Alignment

Jordan Watershed Plan

Project ID

COA-F18-F-2495

Update: New spawning habitat in the lower Jordan River

Located in the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, the Jordan River has a long history of impacts from mining, logging, hydroelectric development, and other industries. But significant steps have been made in the last few years to improve its fish habitat.

Most recently, in 2017 with funding from the FWCP, 696 m2 of new spawning gravel for Pink and Chum Salmon has been added 80 m downstream of BC Hydro’s Jordan River Generating Station. It has the potential to support up to 2,200 Pink and 1,000 Chum spawners.

Historically, the lower Jordan River supported runs of several thousand Pink, Chum, and CohoSalmon. These were driven to extinction in the
1950s primarily due to copper contamination from mining activities, and aggravated by the upgrades to the Jordan hydroelectric project in 1971.

This situation improved dramatically in 2008 when BC Hydro installed a pipe in Elliott Dam and began releasing water for fish. This extra water increased available fish habitat downstream of the dam, and provided sufficient dilution of copper so that salmon and trout were able to complete their freshwater life stages.

The recent restoration work, led by Pacheedaht First Nation, with biological and engineering support provided by D. Burt and Associates and Northwest Hydraulics Consultants, is the first of eight proposed instream projects.

Funding from the FWCP in 2014 kicked off the initiative with creation of the restoration plan, followed by a BC Hydro-funded 2D model for the lower river, then development of design drawings and a work plan, and finally implementation of the gravel placement in September 2017.

The physical work goes beyond helping fish. There is still a long way to go, but it has already brought many people together, working towards a common goal of having thriving and sustainable salmon and trout populations back in the lower Jordan River.

Gravel Placement in Reach 1 of the Jordan River (Phase I)

The goal of this project is to place high-quality spawning gravel in Reach 1 of the Jordan River at Prescription Site 5 in the Jordan River Restoration Plan (Burt and Hill, 2015). This project represents Phase 1 of gravel placement for this site, which involves the removal of existing poor-quality gravels and interspersed cobbles and replacing them with high-quality spawning material while maintaining the existing grade in the final product.