Ministry of Transportation work on the Little Qualicum River got a strong endorsement this week from the local Streamkeepers group.
The ministry is working to prevent the river eroding into Highway 19A, while creating improved fish habitat.
Streamkeepers spokesperson Faye Smith said the work, supervised by biologist Sean Wong, is a good compromise between letting the river take its course and standard interventions.
“Ideally the river would do its own thing and go right through the road and people’s property and cut a new channel, but we can’t do that,” she said.
Rather than just installing rip rap to halt the erosion, Wong’s plan involves the construction of rock spurs that jut out into the river flow, diverting the energy of the water. In between the spurs, large woody debris is being installed to create fish habitat, while a large side channel is being developed to provide shelter for migrating salmon and resident trout.
The Streamkeepers took a tour of the site on Monday and fellow Streamkeeper David James called the work impressive.
“This is the first time they have tried to fully integrate fish habitat with engineering to protect a bridge,” he said.
“There’s a lot more biodiversity than just gravel, bank and blackberry,” said Smith.