The Squamish Estuary is full of little secrets, said Larry Murray.
It's home to one of the community's few Squamish Nation totem poles, ecologically unique and, if one looks closely, they can see sand dunes created by proponents of a coal terminal that threatened its existence in the 1970s, the Squamish Environment Society (SES) board member said.
“A lot of local people fought it like tooth,” Murray said of the coal terminal project.
The estuary is also on the move, with the Squamish River adding five metres of sediment to its shore annually. And the land was once used for hay crops.
For the past three years SES members have compiled the area's mysteries and included that information on interpretive signs along the one-kilometre Chelem Trail. With the help of $10,000 from the Squamish Credit Union and hours of volunteer work, it's officially opening is on Sunday (Sept. 29).
“[Chelem] is one of the more notable trails in Squamish,” Murray said.
Sitting in the inner estuary, between the Mamquam and Squamish waterways, the trail cuts through habitat that's home to more than 240 bird species. It also hosts salmon fry and smoults and nurtures billions of bacteria that live on the estuary mud, Murray noted.
Free guided walking tours will start at 10 a.m., returning for a dedication ceremony. Everyone is invited to attend this family-friendly event. First Nations have contributed their stories of the area and invited guest will share their ideas and knowledge regarding the estuary. The event will run rain or shine. For more information visit www.squamishenvironment.ca.
The trail dedication coincides with B.C. Rivers Day, a celebration first established in 1980 to spread the message about the importance of rivers to people and the larger ecosystem.
The Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS) is hosting a fun-filled day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rose Park. The day will include native tree and shrub planting along Loggers Lane trail, weed pulls at Rose Park, a welcome ceremony by the Squamish Nation and a barbecue at noon.
— With files from Ben Lypka, The Chief