Restoration Vision for Tsolum River: A Self-Sustaining System



Note to Reader:

After a small open-pit copper mine on Mount Washington on Vancouver Island closed in the 1960s, leaching copper eliminated fisheries in the Tsolum River watershed. By 2009, remediation work had improved water quality to the point where fisheries resources were beginning to recover.

In May 2011, the work of the Tsolum River Partnership was recognized with a  Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation. At Seminar #3 in the 2011 Comox Valley Series, Jack Minard will tell the Tsolum River story. He will focus on the ingredients for success: shared vision, collaboration and long-term commitment.

In his keynote presentation, Jack Minard will foreshadow that Tsolum River flooding has created an opportunity to broaden the partnership and go beyond the original vision for water quality remediation. He will connect the dots between land use practices and water balance management.

Tsolum river restoration society - logo (300p)


The Goal: A Self-Sustaining System

“In the fall of 2009, there were more pink salmon in the river than had been seen in 50 years. The exciting thing about this is that now we can go to work and repair the Jack minard (120p)ecosystems,”  reports Jack Minard, Executive Director of the Tsolum River Restoration Society.

“We can actually restore fish habitat and riparian areas, build refuge habitat, stabilize banks, stabilize sub-straits, and end up with a system that’s going to be self-sustaining. It will probably take us another 20 years to do that. But at least we can do that now…It’s really, really exciting,”


There is Still More Work to Be Done

“There is a caveat to the ‘good news’. That caveat is that there is no trend showing yet, there are many other problems in the Tsolum that require much human intervention to solve. And even though we have had some great runs since water quality has been dramatically improved and continues to improve, we are not yet out of the woods.”

“Loose substrates, extreme flows (too high and rapid flows moving substrates and killing spawned eggs and too low flows leaving coho and trout high and dry in the late summer) and temperature problems among others still plague the river.”

“We have been busy working on the minesite and now that water quality is under control, we can go to work on a recovery plan that tackles the myriad of problems and issues that remain. We have had some good runs BUT we need to see consistency and a self-sustaining ecosystem before we can celebrate again. For now though, we are celebrating our incredible accomplishment of improved water quality!”


To Learn More:

“To save the Tsolum River they first had to go to the top of the mountain. And if that sounds like something of a biblical pilgrimage, then consider this – one of the first leaders of the movement was a Roman Catholic hermit priest and the journey took decades,” writes Mark Hume in the March 31, 2011 issue  of Currents, To read the complete story, click on To Save the Tsolum.

Posted June 2011