nora o’malley photo From left

Volunteers help fish populations thrive around Tofino and Ucluelet

"Their intrinsic value is immeasurable to our economy, our culture, our ecosystems and our West Coast way of life.”

Watching wild salmon spawn through freshly restored ecosystems is a beautifully unique feature of West Coast life.

Spawning season has begun and the Central Westcoast Forest Society is helping locals experience the richness of their surroundings wading through local creeks and helping to ensure the society’s restoration efforts are bearing fruit.

The CWFS is currently looking for volunteers to help monitor salmon populations at Lost Shoe Creek, Sandhill Creek and Coho Creek. The society’s executive director Jessica Hutchinson told the Westerly News volunteers are a vital resource for the society’s work.

“We’re relying on the support of the community to come out and help us count fish and help us better understand the health of our streams,” she said.

“If you’re keen to learn about salmon ecology, keen to get outdoors and you’re physically fit and have a good gumption, then you are the volunteer we’re looking for.”

The volunteer effort is being led by CWFS staffer Emily Grubb who hopes to see a healthy roster of locals sign up to get geared up in hip waders and head into the water.

“Everyone should participate,” she said.

“It’s an important part of this community and there’s no way you’re not going to have fun. No matter how many times I go and walk the creek and see the fish, it’s never not exciting.”

Anyone interested is encouraged to contact Grubb at 250-726-2424 or           emily@clayoquot.org.

“It’s an amazing thing to witness a wild salmon spawning in its natural habitat,” Hutchinson said adding providing and monitoring healthy ecosystems is integral to helping the keystone species thrive.

“Because they’re an anadromous species, meaning they spend part of their life in fresh water and part of their life in the ocean, when they return in the fall they bring with them marine derived nutrients that they then deposit into the stream so they are an amazing fertilizer for the ecosystem,” she said.

“They’re also so culturally and economically important to West Coast communities. Their intrinsic value is immeasurable to our economy, our culture, our ecosystems and our West Coast way of life.”