Helping Pacific Salmon Survive the Impact of Climate Change on Freshwater Habitats: Case Studies: Perspectives from the Okanagan, Quesnel, Nicola, Cowichan, Nass, and Englishman River Watersheds

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The purpose of this report and companion document, “Helping Pacific salmon survive the impact of climate change on freshwater habitats: Pursuing proactive and reactive adaptation strategies”6 is to facilitate thinking and planning around feasible options that could be implemented. In general, this report integrates ideas from the other one into a local context of geography, people, and salmon at six locations across British Columbia: three interior basins (Okanagan, Quesnel, and Nicola Rivers) and three coastal areas (Cowichan, Nass, and Englishman Rivers). Individual case studies are structured in a way that consider four questions commonly used in State of Environment (SOE) reporting7. The intention is not to summarize available information to provide definitive answers in a particular watershed; instead this case study report is intended to communicate a single and diverse story about the range of climate change issues facing salmon in a variety of locations across the province.

  1. What is happening? A summary of the biophysical features of the watershed, some basic information on salmon and water resources, natural and human factors that limit salmon production, and status / trends of salmon populations.
  2. Why is it happening? A discussion concerning the state of knowledge about cause-effect linkages, including linkages between climate change-salmon habitats, and to a limited extent confounding factors (see Figure 1).
  3. Why is it significant? A consideration of the human dimensions to what is happening in the watershed — the human values defining the importance of what is happening to the biophysical environment. For instance, the economic importance (e.g., cost–salmon fishery, water uses), social-regulatory relevance (e.g., Species at Risk Act listings), or ecological / biological significance (e.g., genetically unique) may be underlying drivers defining action in a watershed.
  4. What can we do about it? A discussion about the solutions-oriented strategies that have been implemented in the past, are currently being pursued, or could be implemented in the future to help Pacific salmon. These considerations relate to the hard and soft infrastructure adaptation strategies described in a companion report, “Helping Pacific salmon survive the impact of climate change on freshwater habitats: Pursuing proactive and reactive adaptation strategies”. Summaries of these strategies are provided in Figure 2, Table 1, and Table 2. We recognize there are many issues related to the technical, ecological, and social feasibility of these strategies when applied in a local context. The purpose of this report is not to explore feasibility of implementation.

–Excerpt from the report’s Introduction