Improving Fish Habitat in the Shuswap River Watershed

Project Year: 2016-2017

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Sockeye Salmon

Project Lead

Yucwmenlucwu (Caretakers of the Land) 2007 LLP


Coastal Region


Project Type

Research & Information Acquisition

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Shuswap Salmonid Action Plan

Project ID


Middle Shuswap River Off-Channel Access Assessment

This project will explore off-channel habitat below Wilsey Dam to determine opportunities for providing rearing habitat for anadromous and resident fish species. Rearing anadromous fish, and all life stages of resident fish, would benefit from the creation of additional off-channel habitat.

This is a seed funding research project that aims to identify projects that would have significant benefit to rearing anadromous and resident fish species in the Middle Shuswap River. The benefits to fish and wildlife will be realized upon successful completion of projects informed by this research.

Final Report: Executive Summary

Low velocity and shallow side channel habitat along the Middle Shuswap River (MSR) provides rearing and refuge habitat for various fish species including juvenile coho and rainbow trout (Minor 2007). MSR mainstem connectivity to side channel habitat and floodplains has been reduced as a result of stabilised stream flows due to hydroelectric operations, non-hydro related bank protection works (BC Hydro 2003), and general degradation where livestock have unlimited access to the channel (RDNO 2014).

The objective of this preliminary assessment was to examine side channel and floodplain access for fish during the most common flow rates of the year: low flow periods at 30 cms and lower. The upstream and downstream confluences of side channels along the MSR were assessed on October 7 and 11, 2016 by cataraft. A total of 35 side channel access points were surveyed and photodocumented.

Overall, there was low to moderate riparian habitat at surveyed sites including instream vegetation, deep pools, Large Woody Debris (LWD) and some channel bed grain size variation. Bank protection works (e.g., riprap and LWD complexes) and unrestricted riparian access along the main channel of the MSR were observed throughout the survey as well as poor to good established riparian vegetation.

Following the preliminary assessment of side channel access condition, enhancement of sites could include opening up access to the inlet at side channel C to increase scour and productivity, and adding additional cover habitat (e.g., for side channels S and V with salmonid fry observed within isolated pools). Prior to any enhancement works, access to these sites should be fenced off from agricultural and grazing access to ensure conditions are protected from disturbance.

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