Nicola Naturalized Flows and Pine Beetle Risk Assessment

This project is part of a larger initiative that includes the Nicola Water Use Management Plan (WUMP) including First Nations and funding through the Pacific Salmon Commission and Habitat Conservation Trust Fund to develop instream flow requirements (IFR’s) to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems for salmon, trout and char throughout the Nicola Basin. Salmon in the Nicola watershed include COSEWIC listed Coho and key indicator Chinook stocks for the Pacific Salmon Treaty. It also includes Thompson steelhead which are considered threatened and bull trout which are blue-listed provincially. The first step for IFR’s development relies on using the natural hydrograph in numerous subbasins of the Nicola and the B.C. Instream Flow Methodology: Two factors have combined to create a significant obstacle to developing defensible, science based instream flows requirements. First, over one hundred years of water licensing for off-stream uses confuses years of data and analysis that must rely on multi-year, naturalized hydrograph as the “benchmark” for most major sub-basins in the Nicola watershed. Second, the mountain pine beetle epidemic has hit the southern interior hard and has driven a watershed forest harvesting regime that is unprecedented in scope, further complicating the understanding of what was and will be “natural” for instream flow. So far, 7 sub-watersheds have had daily naturalized hydrograph developed by private consultant for the Nicola WUMP and 2 by the BC Ministry of Environment.

The goals of this project are: to develop daily naturalized hydrograph for the remaining major sub-watersheds of the Nicola Watershed, and; to document the potential effects of pine beetle infestation and related salvage harvesting on affected sub-watersheds in the Nicola watershed. The 3 remaining major sub-watersheds of the Nicola Watershed daily naturalized hydrograph were developed and projected Equivalent Clearcut Area of pine beetle mortality and salvage logging generated for the Upper Nicola watershed.