Sturgeon Bank Sediment Enhancement Pilot Project
Designed to deliver new sediments to the Fraser River estuary foreshore, the Sturgeon Bank Sediment Enhancement Pilot Project is aimed at restoring tidal marsh fish habitat and building marsh resilience to keep pace with rising seas.
Efforts will strive to protect adjacent communities from coastal flooding by placing sediment on the tidal flats to enhance natural processes that have been altered by human activities over the last 100 years.
Work crews will be re-purposing sediment dredged from the Fraser River and placing it in key areas on the bank. The natural process of waves, winds, and tides will distribute these sediments throughout the foreshore. The goal is to restore valuable wild Pacific salmon tidal marsh habitat, which support many different fish and wildlife species.
What to expect
Taking place over the next two years, restoration work involves pumping a mixture of water and sediment dredged from the Fraser River directly onto the southern Lulu Island foreshore through the use of a large hose. Neighbours in the area may notice these restoration activities, with some of this work taking place through the night.
Supporting ecological resilience and coastal flood protection
The benefits of restoring the Fraser River estuary tidal marsh habitat are many. The Fraser River estuary is home to hundreds of millions of out-migrating juvenile salmon that rely upon these brackish ecosystems as they transition to the ocean. Together with Boundary Bay, the estuary is also the most important overwintering area for waterfowl in Canada.
In addition to being key to the B.C. economy and Indigenous ways of life, Fraser River Chinook salmon are the primary prey of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.
Scientific investigations have shown that river training and dredging have changed how the river naturally distributes new sediments to the marsh. These sediments are the foundation allowing the marsh to grow vertically to keep ahead of rising sea levels that put ecosystems and communities at risk.
By conserving and restoring coastal marshlands and habitats, we could buffer and mitigate flooding damages.
This pilot project is an opportunity to test and evaluate a local, customized approach to address large-scale tidal marsh loss.
- Using natural processes to restore areas of receded tidal marsh and facilitate ecological resilience of the existing marsh to withstand sea-level rise.
- Creating innovative green infrastructure to help rebuild Fraser salmon stocks of concern.
- Protecting the adjacent community of Richmond from coastal flooding.
- Applying the design and lessons learned from this pilot project to other areas of the Fraser River Delta and other estuaries in B.C.
The project is one of three Fraser River Estuary Salmon Habitat (FRESH) Restoration Projects led by DUC in partnership with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Tsawwassen First Nation, and the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance. This project is partially funded by the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund through Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia, with additional funding from Tsawwassen First Nation and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Supporting flood protection for the City of Richmond, a healthy Sturgeon Bank is an important part of mitigating flood risk for the City, as it protects the dike from wind-generated waves. With future sea level rise, the protection afforded to Richmond by this feature may be considerably reduced. The Council-endorsed, Flood Protection Management Strategy and Dike Master Plans Phase 1 and 2 recognize the important wave attenuation benefits that Sturgeon Bank provides. The plans recommend key actions to mitigate sea level rise, including potentially installing breakwater islands.
Our project team will work to mitigate potential impacts to surrounding neighbours.
Please submit any questions you may have below and a member of our team will contact you:
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DUC in British Columbia
British Columbia is renowned for its biodiversity. The plants and animals that make their homes in the picturesque mountains, lakes, rivers and marshes, as well as the numerous species found in the adjacent Pacific Ocean are part of a magnificent wilderness mosaic.
But B.C.’s ecosystems are under threat. Climate change and development are putting wildlife populations at risk and affecting the health of our communities. Floods, fires and sea-level rise are creating serious impacts. That’s why DUC is working throughout the province to conserve and restore vital habitats. Our efforts are guided by a commitment to collaboration, strong partnerships and the delivery of pioneering conservation programs.