Salmon Habitat Restoration on Gitksan Territories: Xsi Tsihl Hlii Din (McCully Creek) Restoration Initiative
This month, we met with salmon biologist Luu-maja (Taylor Wale) from the Gitksan Watershed Authorities to learn more about the McCully Creek Restoration Initiative.
Loss of wildlife habitat is an ongoing crisis impacting First Nations across BC. For the Gitksan Nation, Xsi Tsihl Hlii Din is a historically critical salmon stream. However, land alteration (e.g., agricultural clearing and clear-cut logging) has affected sediment levels and raised the bed surface, creating complex barriers and unsuitable conditions for migrating salmon.
The McCully Creek Restoration Initiative is a collaborative multi-year, Gitksan-led project to restore access, connectivity, and quality of salmon habitat using low-tech, process-based restoration techniques paired with environmental monitoring and evaluation methods.
Aerial photo of Xsi Tsihl Hlii Din including the stabilized gravel bar and a stabilized bank along river right.
Salmon biologist Taylor Wale joined the Gitksan Watershed Authorities (GWA) and picked up the McCully Creek Restoration Initiative in 2020. Wale's Gitksan name is Luu-maja, and she is a member of Wilps xGwoimtxw (family house group) of the Lax Gibuu (Wolf clan).
Early phases of the Initiative involved baseline assessments and surveys of the Xsi Tsihl Hlii Din watershed, physical restoration to increase stability and channelize the creek into a single channel, and the ongoing stabilization of an eroded bank. Since joining the project, Wale has also focused on bringing Gitksan youth into the process and onto the water in their Territories.
It is clear that the effects of climate change are manifesting on McCully Creek. By rehabilitating and contributing to the ecosystems that support wild salmon, the GWA are improving biodiversity and increasing resiliency on their Territories in the face of the climate crisis.
Though this complex restoration project has encountered challenges, such as narrowing seasonal windows of opportunity to complete work, Wale added that the Initiative has been beneficial for Gitksan members, including youth, to gain the necessary skills and tools for making assessments, prescribing solutions, managing data, and leading critical habitat rehabilitation on their Territories.
"Low-tech, process-based restoration is an iterative process with nearly immediate results. Do something small and low-stakes. If it doesn't work, it just gets washed away, then you come back the next year and try something else. This form of restoration is really accessible, cheap, and empowering because it can be fully done by us, prescribed by us. Most importantly, it allows us to bring community and family members into the process." —Luu-maja (Taylor Wale)
Gitksan youth Hailey and Enzel Wilson planting willow whips along the banks of lower McCully Creek (left). Dylan Wilson irrigating willow stakes for best results (right).
Co-coordinated by the FNLC, FNESS, EMBC, and ISC, this forum will focus on national and regional emergency management (EM) strategies while bringing together First Nations leadership, EM professionals, and experts in the field. Participants are encouraged to have youth from their First Nation attend with them.
The BC government invites First Nations to join one of two webinars on their recent Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, which it outlines a broad range of actions for 2022-2025 to address climate impacts and build resilience across the province.
- REGISTER: Webinar 1 (Indigenous peoples) | July 4, 11 AM – 12 PM
- REGISTER: Webinar 2 (general audiences) | July 7, 1:30 – 2:30 PM
The University of British Columbia invites First Nations governments and organizations to submit project proposals to the Sustainability Scholars Program, which supports partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability goals across the region.
The Government of Canada has initiated a public engagement to collect ideas and comments toward developing Canada's first National Adaptation Strategy. This Strategy will advance a shared vision for climate resilience based on high-level principles and focused objectives.
Register to participate in engagement activities, including workshops and roundtables.
This federal funding focuses on projects that create or expand a food system. Projects must be infrastructure specific and community-driven, dedicated to improving access to healthy, nutritious and local foods for Canadians at risk of food insecurity.
This federal, competitive, and merit-based contribution program supports public infrastructure projects designed to mitigate current and future climate-related risks and disasters triggered by climate change, such as floods, wild fires, droughts, and seismic events.
This program supports Indigenous and local governments in encouraging healthy living and active transportation (e.g., walking, cycling, etc.). It is a cost-sharing funding opportunity providing financial assistance for new infrastructure and projects.
This federal funding focuses on Indigenous, rural, and remote communities using diesel or fossil fuels for heat or power. It supports all project stages and a variety of technology types. Indigenous-owned or led projects, or projects with community partnerships, are prioritized.
A summary report of the virtual Pre-Engagement Session with BC First Nations Chiefs, leadership, experts, technicians, and community members to inform preliminary considerations for amendments to the FNLC First Nations Water Rights Strategy.
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