It has been more than 130 years since the land was drained, but fish may soon return to what is now called the Dillon Creek wetland restoration on Cortes Island.

Image credit: Cutthroat Trout – Timothy Knepp, NCTC Image Library,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Public Domain)

They won’t be salmon, which cannot make it past the falls at Mansons Lagoon, but other species of fish.

“There are coastal cutthroat trout, which are a blue listed species at risk, and we also found sculpins,” explained Project Manager Miranda Cross.

They won’t be spawning, because the size of gravel needed for spawning is found in the stream channel, not the wetlands.

Cross explained that the fish will probably use the wetlands as a nursery where they will have plenty to eat.

She does not expect a lot of fish. The wetlands are not connected to Dillon Creek, but they will have access during flood conditions.

“It will be a nursery ground for fish and then when we see high waters and intense rain events, they’ll be able to leave and reconnect back to the creek and the lake,” Cross explained.

She has already seen cutthroat trout in Dillon Creek below the Cortes Bay culvert.

“We expect to see them, however, fish eat frogs eggs and little frogs, so it would be great to not have too many fish — so we can have successful amphibian breeding.”

Top photo credit: The rain arrives on Cortes Island, flooding the areas where fish are expected to enter when the waters of Dillon Creek rise higher. Photo by Roy L Hales.

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative