Yahguudang Dlljuu: A Respectful Act
The Haida Nation celebrates more than 10,000 years of a sacred connection with the land and sea- its waters support the Haida’s traditional harvest of marine resources and commercial fisheries. Pacific salmon abundance along the West coast of Canada has been in sharp decline since the early 1990s, likely due to habitat destruction, overfishing, and warming stream temperatures caused, in part, by climate change.
Spawning grounds for salmon, an important food source for the Haida people, were damaged by intensive logging prior to establishment of this protected area. The Parks Canada Agency, in partnership with the Haida Nation, is restoring streams and old-growth forests in Gwaii Haanas to re-establish salmon populations. This habitat restoration project aims to enhance survival of salmon in the face of climate change while preserving the traditional lifestyle of the Haida Nation.
Gwaii Haanas salmon restoration field trip
Restoring the Land and Honouring the History of Lyell Island
Two kilometres of stream in three logging-damaged creeks on Lyell Island have already been restored as part of unique initiative that aims to restore stream ecosystems so that salmon populations can re-establish in an area that was once heavily logged and to ensure local youth learn how to take care of the land and sea.
Tllga Kun Gwaayaay (Lyell Island) is the site of the 1985 standoff where Haida elders stood the line to protest unsustainable logging on their traditional lands.
© Parks Canada
The 19,000 ha island was first logged in the 1920s, but intensive clearcutting carried out in the late 1970s and into the 1980s led to slope instability and landslides.
During that time, logs were skidded through streambeds resulting in the destruction of salmon-bearing stream habitat.
Gwaii Haanas staff and partners have built more than a dozen in-creek structures by dropping large woody debris into three streams: Sandy, Powrivco and Takelly Creeks.
The land around the creeks is also being restored and several hectares of forest have been thinned to emulate old growth characteristics and ensure that conifer growth provides a future source of woody debris for the streams.
Over the last three years, future stewards have learned about protecting the land and sea in Gwaii Haanas. In 2011, a group of students representing every school on the islands helped release fry into a Lyell Island creek and in 2012, a similar group helped move large woody debris to encourage the creation of salmon rearing habitat.
Yahguudang dlljuu: A Respectful Act
© Parks Canada
Chum (Oncorhynchus keta) broodstock are being collected from selected streams in the fall months and hatchery-raised to fry for release into restored streams in the spring.
In 1985, the Haida Nation designated Gwaii Haanas as a heritage site under the Haida Constitution.
In July 1987, logging on Lyell Island ended when Canada and British Columbia signed the South Moresby Memorandum of Understanding.
In 1993, the Gwaii Haanas Agreement was signed and for the last 20 years the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation have been working cooperatively to manage the land and sea.
By engaging community members and youth in direct participation in ecological restoration activities, and through engaging local schools in the salmon enhancement program, the project will foster an increased understanding of the importance of ecological integrity and the significance of Lyell Island to the people of Haida Gwaii and to all Canadians.
Working With Partners
Since 2004, Gwaii Haanas has been working with a range of partners including the Council of the Haida Nation’s Fisheries Program, the Hecate Strait Streamkeepers, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations as well as a range of community organizations.
This project is funded by the federal government as part of Parks Canada’s Action-on-the-Ground program, a nation-wide initiative that encourages Canadians to engage in activities that support conservation and promote the ecological integrity of Canada’s national parks and natural and cultural heritage.