Tsolum River Partnership
Building on the work of the Mt. Washington Partnership, which addressed the water quality issues during 44 years of toxic copper pollution, the TRP is focussing on watershed recovery - restoring fish habitat and stabilizing the river channel.
The Tsolum River is healing from the effects of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD), historical logging practices and other anthropogenic impacts.
The Mt. Washington Partnership has addressed copper pollution in the Tsolum River with an engineered mine cover which has led to a continuing downward trend in copper to below our targets. The Tsolum River Partnership's primary focus is watershed recovery planning that will lead to the recovery of self-supporting fish populations.
To restore and maintain the ecological features of the Tsolum River watershed by acting to preserve the integrity and stability of the river and its biotic community which will provide the necessary conditions for a self-supporting fish population.
The Tsolum River Partnership will develop and maintain a riverine assessment framework to provide a comprehensive baseline assessment of the biophysical conditions of the river in support of watershed recovery planning and adaptive management principles. The framework will identify information gaps, promote research opportunities and identify and prioritize key recovery activities and projects focusing on the following activities:
The geographic focus of the TRP is the Tsolum River which drains a 258 sq. km watershed on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The river flows for 40 km largely north-south in its meander corridor. Its anadromous fish habitat is low gradient, low elevation and tends to be warm for a salmon river in this area. To the northwest of Courtenay, BC, the Tsolum River tumbles off the northern and eastern slopes of Mount Washington from as high as 1500 metres. This upper watershed area is in the transient snow zone and the middle and lower parts are in the rain dominated zone. There are 4 major tributaries (Portuguese Creek, Dove Creek, Headquarters Creek and Murex Creek) as well as many smaller ones. There are 9 larger lakes in the watershed (Wolf Lake, Anderson Lake, McKay Lake, Regan Lake, Blue Grouse Lake, Lost and Little Lost Lakes, Hell Diver Lake and Kalmia Lake) as well as many smaller lakes and wetlands.
Near its southern terminus, the Tsolum River joins with the Puntledge River to form the Courtenay River for 2 km before emptying into the K’omoks Estuary. The estuary is of major ecological and archeological importance to Salish Sea.
The upper 2/3 of the watershed is private managed forest lands employing local professionals and harvest contractors. The middle reaches of the watershed are agricultural with dairy and other farms, along with a thriving market and specialty food sector. The lower reaches are dominated by a populated urban/rural interface interspersed with small patches of remaining forest and with the City of Courtenay at the mouth. Private land holdings along the river tend to be acreages in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The watershed is also largely within area ‘C’ of the Comox Valley Regional District with a small part in area ‘B’.