British Columbia

Fallen trees sought to help restore salmon streams

The Central Westcoast Forest Society based in Vancouver Island is looking for more than 1,000 pieces of wood to place in rivers throughout the island.

Vancouver Island non-profit seeks over 1,000 pieces of wood to place in rivers throughout the island

The Central Westcoast Forest Society says on-stream wood and log jams are natural occurrences and are crucial for fish habitat development. (Central Westcoast Forest Society)

A Vancouver Island non-profit society is looking for more than 1,000 pieces of wood and fallen trees in its project to restore salmon habitat in rivers around the island. 

Megan Francis, operations manager with Central Westcoast Forest Society, says natural timber that falls into rivers is an extremely important part of fish habitat. 

"When a log naturally falls into a stream, it's going to slow the flow of the water and this makes it a lot easier for spawning fish to make it upstream as they have sort of safe holds to hang out in," Francis said on CBC's All Points West

She says logging practices have curtailed the number of trees that fall into salmon streams. Even if there are new growth forests around rivers, and those trees fall into the stream, they don't have the same effect as an old growth log, Francis says.

"An alder, for example, which is one of the first trees to colonize after logging, doesn't actually have very long retention when it falls into the river," Francis explained. "It rots quite quickly and it's transported away."

Sockeye salmon, which turn red when they spawn, are among the best known Pacific salmon. (Chris Corday/CBC)

The non-profit is working on placing timber pieces in specific streams throughout Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds with the intention of increasing salmon habitat quality. 

They're seeking conifers like western hemlock, Sitka spruce, balsam fir, Douglas fir, and cedar between five to 12 metres long, and greater than 20 centimetres in diameter. 

"Then what's best for us is if it has the root wad on it which acts as kind of an anchor when it's in the stream," she said. 

Francis says the non-profit, which is based in Ucluelet-Tofino area, is hoping for a donation from larger scale landowners or developments who are doing land-clearing over the winter or spring. It isn't really looking for individual tree donations. 

"We could take a tree here or there but if it's something further away from us and our location, it's a little bit unrealistic," Francis said. 

Anyone with wood to donate is encourage to contact the Central Westcoast Forest Society at info@clayoquot.org. 

With files from All Points West

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