BC Hydro is undertaking a salmon spawning gravel placement project just downstream of the Comox Dam Picnic Area which will be closed – along with the parking lot – for construction logistics.
The work begins on Aug. 30 for about a month and a small portion of the trail system on the north side of the river will also be closed.
“Chinook Salmon are a key species and this gravel placement work is an outcome of our Puntledge River water use planning process,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson.
The water use plan, which was a consensus plan agreed to in 2004 by a wide range of community representatives, was about how BC Hydro stores and releases water for various water use interests. However, there was one physical works component of the plan that had gravel placement works as a restoration target between the Comox Dam and the Puntledge Diversion Dam.
The Puntledge River dams prevent gravel movement down the river. In addition to these BC Hydro-led works, other proponents have added gravel placement projects in various parts of the Puntledge River through funding help from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program. Various salmon species benefit from these gravel placement projects.
The project has been designed to provide about 1,350 m3 of gravel for the constructed spawning habitat area that will have the capacity for about 180 pairs of returning Chinook salmon spawners. The gravel pad will be located just downstream of the Comox Dam Picnic Area near the left bank of the river.
BC Hydro’s public parking lot and picnic area by the dam will be used as the laydown area for the gravel storage and construction vehicles that will be moving back and forth from the river. The parking lot area and trailheads will be closed from Aug. 30 to Sept. 30. Temporary closure signage will be placed in the area.
“Given the work is being mobilized from BC Hydro property it makes things easy for us as it’s very close to the gravel pad, yet we appreciate this time of year there’s high public use at this location so we developed a good plan to safely complete the work,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson.
“Hopefully people can find other areas to escape the heat. This project will result in a valuable increase in Chinook spawning habitat.”