The removal of a portion of the Squamish spit occured in Jan 24 2022, with an additional 60m planned for the 2022/2023 winter. These leaves the tip, which will be left as an island. This important project will improve access for migrating juvenile chinook to the estuary, and help return natural water exchange and sediment transport processes in the area.
LTEC was involved in the baseline monitoring of this project, including monitoring salinities, temperatures, water levels, sediment dynamics, and tidal channel dimensions. The increased water flow past this barrier will ensure movements of sediment important for saltmarsh building, an increase in tidal channel flows important for scouring fish habitat, and the mixing of cool, fresh, riverine water with saline water from the estuary creating brackish conditions suitable for smolting salmonids.
The spit was constructed in the early 1970’s for a coal port project that would have seen dredging throughout the central estuary had it been approved. Fisheries concerns at the time scuttled the project but not before the legacy of a large barrier between the river and the estuary was constructed, known as the “Spit”. Prior to 2022 activities, there have been two culvert upgrades at critical locations along the Spit. These culverts have lowered the elevation and increased the area for water exchange between the estuary and the river.
Project proponents involve a partnership between the Squamish Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Squamish River Watershed Society with funding from the Coastal Restoration Fund. LTEC is part of a larger team collecting data to monitor success of this project.
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