Small streams surveys

In 2003, members of the Heiltsuk Nation, volunteers, and staff of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation began small stream surveys in Heiltsuk Traditional Territory around Bella Bella, BC.  Our objective was to document salmon presence in uncatalogued small streams and then expand this to other areas of the central and north coasts of BC.

Our interest in small streams stems from their importance to genetic diversity, as nutrient corridors for riparian habitats, food and access sources for bears and other predators, evolutionary opportunities, and fresh water rearing habitat for juvenile salmon, especially coho. When combined, small streams can also provide moderate salmon production which can be important for subsistence fisheries.

Between 2003 and 2006, we identified 121 streams in Heiltsuk territory with salmon and trout that had not previously been documented for fish presence.  We also documented species of trout and salmon previously unrecorded in 25 known salmonid streams.

In 2008, Raincoast began a partnership with the Git Ga’at Nation to expand these surveys north into their traditional territory. In September 2008, we undertook a pilot season as part of the Coastal Archipelago Monitoring Project and surveyed 23 uncatalogued streams, finding salmon in eight of them.

These stream surveys build on local knowledge and create a comprehensive inventory of salmon resources. They have also identified important components of salmonid diversity and nutrient movement in this ecosystem.  This project is an essential element to making informed decisions about land and marine use activities on the central and north coasts of BC.

Stream Survey Reports

Small Stream Survey Report 2003-2006-Heiltsuk Territory (PDF)

Coastal Monitoring Preliminary Report 2009-Git Ga’at Territory (PDF)

Death by a Thousands Cuts: The importance of small streams on the North and Central coasts of British Columbia (PDF)

Stream Survey Data

View the stream survey data hosted on

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.