Before 1921 the Mamquam River flowed directly into Howe Sound through what is now the Mamquam Blind Channel, but man and nature have combined to cut it off from the ocean.
Now, the Mamquam Reunion project is reconnecting some of the water flow to its original path through a series of channels with the goal of increasing fish habitat while showcasing the path a river takes to reach the ocean.
The project is being spearheaded by the Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS) in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the District of Squamish, Squamish Nation and various other community groups such as the Squamish Streamkeepers.
Edith Tobe, project manager and the executive director of the SRWS, said the project, which began last year, wouldn't have been possible with the support of those involved and the generous funding from various organizations.
"This has been a huge community project," said Tobe. "We have received large in kind donations from Canadian Hydro, Terasen Gas, Pacific Salmon Foundation, B.C. Ministry of Transportation, and the Pacific Salmon Commission."The first stage of the project involved the creation of an intake strut on the Mamquam River to take water into the new channels. The second stage involved bringing the water form Mamquam River into Loggers Lane Creek.
The third stage, where the project is now at, will involve an educational aspect and interpretive trail south of Brennan Park and to the west of Loggers Lane as water is brought to these new channels.
"The Ball Park channels will be a showcase to let people see what this habitat is all about. There will be a walking trail and interpretive signage," said Tobe.
The project will then move water under the highway to the Squamish Estuary and to the upper Wilson Slough as the water is channeled back to the ocean.
The process will continue over the next five years however the fish spawning benefits will be something visible as early as October, according to Jack Cooley, co-chair of the Squamish Streamkeepers.
"This fall will be the first opportunity for fish to spawn in the new channels," he said. "We will be hoping to see lots of Chum and lots of Coho."
Cooley said in light of the development in Squamish this is one project that is trying to improve the environment by stepping backwards.
"'I'm kind of old fashioned; I like the environment to remain the way it is and not be wiped out. So this Mamquam Reunion project is definitely a step in the right direction," he said.
For more information about the project or to contact the groups involved visit www.squamishstreams.com.