Divers (left to right: Barney Edgars, Dion Lewis, Ben Penna and Gwiisihlgaa Dan McNeill) are pictured getting ready to explore the seafloor at the old Juus Káahlii Juskatla Inlet logging site, which was chosen as the pilot site for an overall Council of the Haida Nation project to restore marine habitat around historic logging sites on Haida Gwaii. Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 that the Secretariat of the Haida Nation was receiving more than $1.1 million over three years for the project.

Divers (left to right: Barney Edgars, Dion Lewis, Ben Penna and Gwiisihlgaa Dan McNeill) are pictured getting ready to explore the seafloor at the old Juus Káahlii Juskatla Inlet logging site, which was chosen as the pilot site for an overall Council of the Haida Nation project to restore marine habitat around historic logging sites on Haida Gwaii. Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 that the Secretariat of the Haida Nation was receiving more than $1.1 million over three years for the project.

Haida Nation dives into 3-year project to restore marine habitat around old logging sites

Marine Toad contracted to restore 0.4 to 0.8 hectares of marine meadow at Juskatla Inlet pilot site

Work has begun to revitalize marine habitat around an old logging site near Port Clements.

Judson Brown, marine planning program manager for the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), told the Observer work started around January on a three-year project that includes a pilot to restore the old logging site at Juus Káahlii Juskatla Inlet, where harvested tree logs used to be dumped into the ocean and loaded onto barges.

According to a release from the CHN on June 9, about 20 trucks were processed each day at the Juskatla Inlet pilot site during peak logging years, from the 1960s to about 1980.

Loggers would dump logs into the water at the end of a causeway, where they also dug a hole to keep wood from hitting the seafloor. Infill from the hole and other woody debris was routinely piled on the surrounding beach, including on top of a t’anuu eelgrass meadow, believed to have supported a vibrant fish nursery.

Bacteria use oxygen when breaking down debris underwater, so the site has since become a more severe, anoxic environment compared to its natural state — a subtidal “dead zone” where other marine organisms struggle to survive.

Ultimately, the CHN hopes to restore a marine meadow the size of 10 to 20 basketball courts (0.4-0.8 hectares).

“It’s going to look way different,” Brown said. “This project is pretty much the first of its kind on the B.C. coast.”

ALSO READ: Commercial fishing concerns over marine protected areas

A Google Maps view of Juus Káahlii Juskatla Inlet. (Google Maps)


Biologist Leandre Vigneault, owner of the Marine Toad company that has been contracted to manage the project, told the Observer the pilot site is unique since it is far inland from the ocean. Set behind two narrow passages, there is limited natural flushing of the water in the area, lower salinity, high tannin concentrations and a relatively less diverse ecosystem.

Vigneault has been participating in the dives done to date and although they happen during the day, he said if he did not have his own light below 25 feet “it might as well have been midnight.”

Eelgrass needs a low, gently-sloping zone where light can penetrate to grow, so he said his crew will be digging and pulling back the material deposited over the eelgrass beds with excavators, re-establishing the natural beach contours over the summer, and then transplanting eelgrass from the neighbouring bay over the fall and winter.

“The exact timing will depend on COVID-19 considerations and obtaining all of the permits required for the various activities,” he said.

ALSO READ: Marine protected areas not all good, says Vancouver Island fisherman

The Juskatla Inlet site was chosen from a list of 69 historic log sorts around Haida Gwaii to be the pilot site for the larger marine habitat restoration project, which aims to improve habitat under and around past and current log sorts, booming areas, and other areas impacted by logging and related activities.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced on March 10 that the Secretariat of the Haida Nation was receiving more than $1.1 million over three years for the project.

The funding was part of the final call for proposals under the $75 million Coastal Restoration Fund, which has provided or approved funding for 64 partnered projects since it was announced by the federal government in May 2017.

The Coastal Restoration Fund is in turn part of the five-year, $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. Launched in November 2016, the plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.

ALSO READ: Marine experts investigating after first recorded striped dolphin sighting on Haida Gwaii

Other historic log sites on Haida Gwaii are also being considered for restoration in 2021 as part of the overall project, such as the portion of Bearskin Bay in Skidegate Inlet that is no longer used for logging.

Vigneault said the Bearskin Bay project could possibly focus more on re-establishing kelp.

For example, the crew may sprinkle rocks with kelp larvae attached on the seafloor.

He said they will be monitoring the success of all project restoration work over the short and long-term.

ALSO READ: SG̱aan Ḵinghlas-Bowie Seamount marine area receives renewed protection

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

forestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read