Pacific Salmon Foundation contributes $42,000 to Comox Valley wild salmon restoration projects

The Pacific Salmon Foundation announced it is contributing more than $42,000 to six wild salmon restoration projects in the Comox Valley this summer.

The funds came from the foundation’s Community Salmon Program and were underwritten by Mosaic, the timberland manager for TimberWest and Island Timberlands.

“The Comox Valley has a very active salmon community which is reflected by the breadth of these grants,” said Michael Meneer, PSF president and CEO. “Volunteers there are also important on-the-ground partners working at the forefront of climate change studies – such as with this recent grant we provided for the Tsolum River Restoration Society.”

The grant will support a graduate student working with the Tsolum River Restoration Society to study ways to monitor water temperature changes and possible influences of cooler groundwater in the Tsolum River. The project is co-funded with the Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions, which donated $10,000 to the project.

“Stream temperatures have been monitored in multiple locations in the Tsolum River over many years, and we know that they have exceeded safe temperatures for salmon during the summer months,” said Kate O’Neill, a masters student from BCIT and SFU. “Groundwater tends to be cooler, therefore, when it enters streams salmon can seek refuge in these colder pockets during the warm summer months.

“Understanding areas of the Tsolum River where there is groundwater input and protecting these areas is crucial for restoration of the river. This is one step to help with wild salmon’s long-term survival in the face of our changing climate.”

This study is timely due to the current drought conditions in the Comox Valley and the vulnerability of juvenile salmon to low water levels in the Tsolum River. The results of the study will inform management decisions and will be added to other data O’Neill is collecting for a temperature monitoring program that can be applied to other salmon-bearing streams in B.C.

“Whether it is an introduction in the classroom or advanced post-graduate work, we’re proud to support active research and education initiatives that will enhance salmon habitat in the Comox Valley,” said Jeff Zweig, president and CEO of Mosaic Forest Management, which has contributed more than $1 million over the past two decades for salmon habitat conservation projects on Vancouver Island.

Five other projects in the Comox Valley-area also received funding:

· Students at Aspen Park Elementary will participate in the Stream of Dreams classroom education program;

· Volunteers with the Roy Creek Salmonid Enhancement Society will restore in-stream habitat to increase salmon production in Roy Creek;

· The Oyster River Enhancement Society will install new holding pens to increase production of four different salmon species at their hatchery; and,

· The Little River Enhancement Society received two grants to improve hatchery operations and restore almost 2,600 square metres of in-stream habitat to support chum and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout.

The grants were part of $1.3 Million in grants awarded to 152 projects in British Columbia and the Yukon. The total value of these projects including matching donations of in-kind and cash at the community level was $9.7 Million. The Community Salmon Program is largely supported through fees from the Salmon Conservation Stamp which is affixed to tidal fishing licenses and required to retain Pacific salmon species in B.C.

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