Proposed Abstract Title

Airpark Lagoon Breach - Restoring Habitat Connectivity for Fish

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Bringing Communities Together to Embark on Major Estuarine Restoration

Location

2016SSEC

Description

The Courtenay River channel is located in the K’ómoks Estuary on the eastern side of Vancouver Island. Much of the tidal salt marsh area in the channel was filled in and developed through the mid-1900’s, including diking of a 4 hectare area for the creation of a sewage lagoon in 1963. The loss of tidal salt marsh and changes in flow dynamics impacted the suitability of the area to support rearing and refuge for juvenile salmonids.

The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society undertook a project to breach the lagoon dike with a large multi-plate aluminium culvert in order to reconnect the Courtenay River through the upper end of the lagoon to the estuary. Reconnecting river flow through the lagoon provides a flushing and nutrient circulating function that partially restores the original flow dynamics, thereby improving the lagoon habitat for fish. In particular juvenile salmonids will benefit from the improved and accessible habitat for rearing, foraging and refuge.

Preliminary results indicate increases in usage patterns by wildlife, specifically fish and birds.

Salt marsh habitat restoration was a component of the work undertaken and the project featured strong community engagement with stewardship groups and the local First Nation.

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Airpark Lagoon Breach - Restoring Habitat Connectivity for Fish

2016SSEC

The Courtenay River channel is located in the K’ómoks Estuary on the eastern side of Vancouver Island. Much of the tidal salt marsh area in the channel was filled in and developed through the mid-1900’s, including diking of a 4 hectare area for the creation of a sewage lagoon in 1963. The loss of tidal salt marsh and changes in flow dynamics impacted the suitability of the area to support rearing and refuge for juvenile salmonids.

The Comox Valley Project Watershed Society undertook a project to breach the lagoon dike with a large multi-plate aluminium culvert in order to reconnect the Courtenay River through the upper end of the lagoon to the estuary. Reconnecting river flow through the lagoon provides a flushing and nutrient circulating function that partially restores the original flow dynamics, thereby improving the lagoon habitat for fish. In particular juvenile salmonids will benefit from the improved and accessible habitat for rearing, foraging and refuge.

Preliminary results indicate increases in usage patterns by wildlife, specifically fish and birds.

Salt marsh habitat restoration was a component of the work undertaken and the project featured strong community engagement with stewardship groups and the local First Nation.