Powerhouse Foreshore Restoration Project

Dramatic environmental Impacts and background

IN the 1950’s BC Hydro took a powerhouse project to action in Seton Lake Area. The Seton Lake is located in the rainshadow of the southern Coast Mountains, about 200 km northeast of Vancouver. Seton River flows into the Fraser River in Lillooet, B.C. The study area is located in local native bands traditional territory. The Powerhouse site lies along the western shores of the Fraser River. To channel hydroelectric potential and to increase effectiveness of the powerhouse, the Seton Lake was dammed in 1953. The gate created in the dam releases the water into a 4km Seton canal, which was build in 1956. Since the construction, no efforts were taken to restore the damaged eco-system that provided excellent habitat for blue- and redlisted species that once were luxuriating in this area. The canal and the generators have been hindering fish and wildlife to follow the river upstream, especially were the Seton river inlets into the Fraser.

Splitrock Environmental is an aboriginal business owned by the Cayoose Creek Indian Band that specializes in eco-cultural restoration, including restoration management, planning and mapping. Splitrock Environmental is operating a native plant nursery that contributes to the restoration of the damaged habitat at Seton Lake. Driving by passion for nature and wildlife and supported by the knowledge of the First Nations, Splitrock Environmental was able to monitor great successes in the past with controlling the invasive species and relocating endangered species that lived in the area before.

The goal is to create a link to the past and to provide opportunities (offer outreach and volunteer opportunities to the public, including weeding blitzes, sage thinning, and revegetation activities) for the future.

The work is being done with provincial experts to ensure that the surveying and restoration work is both technically sound and provides useful information to the scientific community.

The Site

Dry upland bench

  • BC Hydro ownership fluvial bench above the river
  • degraded by decades of industrial use
  • roads crossing the site harmed wildlife until closed through our project
  • ecosystem is dominated by herbs and low shrubs

Riparian zone

  • the site is a riparian band (deciduous shrubs and trees).
  • Plants:
  • Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)
  • prickly rose (Rosa acicularis)
  • black cottonwood(Populus balsamifera spp. trichocarpa)
  • ponderosa pine
  • has been used as a recreation site, racetrack and dumping ground for garbage.

Fraser River gravel bar

  • a large gravel bar on the shores of the Fraser River
  • Heron, eagles, gulls and sandpipers are inhabitants
  • Vehicles can access the beach

Methods

Since 2005, when the initial idea was brought up and Bridge-Coastal Restoration Program the Institution has been working on ground work and monitoring make suggestions and decisions from a broad database.

Discussion and Recommendations

Splitrock Environmental recommends to carry on with the intensive vegetation monitoring program in 2016 and beyond, using past data and local knowledge for each restored area. Last year, photo point monitoring and personal observations/surveys were the only monitoring methods employed. With funding for Stewardship Plans, Splitrock will be able not only to make our monitoring more accurate, but also to create a wildlife corridor where a vast construction site used to be.

  • Source L. Godbout, C. C. Wood, R. Withler, and D. Menard. March 2009. Smolt parental lineage assessment to evaluate successful spawn of returned 2009 Alouette sockeye spawners. Report prepared by Fisheries and Oceans Canada Pacific Biological Station, for BC Hydro Bridge Coastal Restoration Program. Available at https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/acat/documents/r39485/Smolt_Sockeye_alouette_09_1383672060305_a6999dfdd7264de0542bfdb24aa4309287c63eae9908552a92b91520fe8d79d2.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].