salmon spawning

Dakota Creek

Aerial view of Dakota River Watershed

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Maximum estimated returns from 1947 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chum and Coho salmon for Dakota Creek.

Dakota Creek empties into Howe Sound just south of the pulp mill site at Port Mellon. We consider this relatively small creek to be regionally significant because of its historic capacity to produce large numbers of Cutthroat and Steelhead Trout. There is a high degree of conservation concern for anadromous (sea-run) Cutthroat stocks in the Lower Mainland Region as these have been in steady decline for many years.

Dakota Creek was never known to support large salmon returns; escapements were not even counted until 1971. However, a 1979 study found that Dakota Creek was one of five key Georgia Basin streams accounting for 61% of Cutthroat production in the Lower Mainland region. A 2005 Cutthroat recovery discussion paper also notes the significance of Dakota Creek.

A 2000 Coastal Watershed Assessment Procedure (CWAP) found 10 pairs of Coho. The annual mean for Chum between 1988 and 1997 was 110. In 1973, sampling identified Rainbow and Cutthroat trout; the latter were stocked twice in 1989 and 1998. The Steelhead population present in 1980 was still surviving in 1996 when 468 were counted.

Industrial activity began early in the last century. By the 1930s a series of dams and flumes were used to move cedar cants and a mill was established. In 1971 Canadian Forest Products Ltd acquired the drainage as part of their tenure. There are 4 unused water licences held by the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the watershed is designated as a Community Watershed under the Forest and Range Practices Act. The first Coastal Watershed Assessment Procedure (CWAP) was conducted in 1995; the second CWAP identified much of the terrain as naturally unstable. Over the past 40 years, human-caused slope failures have been an important part of the sediment loading in the creek. An abandoned gravel pit was identified as draining an estimated 300 tonnes of sediments annually.

The Dakota estuary and lower reaches are considered to have high fisheries values. Also of note is that Dakota Creek is one of several creeks between Langdale and Port Mellon that are significant for Cutthroat Trout. These include Avalon, McNair, Oulette, Twin and YMCA creeks.

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