Environment & Sustainability

THE SQUAMISH ENVIRONMENT: UNIQUE AND VALUABLE


3.14 EnvironementSustainability

Squamish is located at the north end of Howe Sound, where the Squamish and Stawamus rivers meet the sea. This estuarine fjord provides important habitat for a rich and diverse variety of plants and animals. Encompassing the site of the Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area, the area is also designated an “Important Bird Area” by Birdlife International and provides habitat for over 200 species of local and migratory birds.  However, in addition to providing important natural habitat for flora and fauna, the Squamish estuary also provides opportunities for recreation, trails, windsports, industry and economic development.

FUN FACT:  The Squamish River is the source of 90% of the fresh water in Howe Sound. 

FUN FACT:  A “fjord” estuary is a long, narrow arm of sea, bordered by steep cliffs, usually formed by glaciation, such as the Squamish River estuary.

FUN FACT:  A “delta” estuary is a triangular mass of sediment, especially silt or sand, deposited at the mouth of a river, such as the Fraser River delta in Vancouver.

The Squamish River Watershed is comprised of 4 main rivers: 

  • Mamquam River
  • Cheakamus River
  • Squamish River
  • Stawamus River

Among other functions, these rivers provide important  salmon habitat.

FUN FACT:  A watershed (also known as a drainage basin or a catchment area) is an area of land where all the water drains into one body of water.  It usually contains a network of rivers and streams that progressively drain into larger water areas. 

With its many streams and watercourses, riparian areas make up part of the fabric of the Squamish landscape.  Riparian areas constitute fish habitat by providing nutrients, leaf and insect drop, shade and temperature regulation to watercourses.  Generally, a more complex riparian area enhances the quality of the fish habitat.  Riparian areas also improve stormwater infiltration capacity.

FUN FACT:  “Riparian” means the land next to fresh water, such as streams and creeks.  These upland riparian areas are an important part of fish habitat.

Wetlands are also scattered throughout Squamish and provide many functions such as amphibian habitat, water retention capacity, and improving water quality.  Many of our local wetlands are ephemeral, drying out in the summer and retaining water in the winter.

The District of Squamish has undertaken Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping to gain an understanding of the various types of forest cover throughout the community, mapping young forests all the way to old growth.  Our terrestrial ecosystems are home to wildlife, such as eagles, bears, cougars, and coyotes.  

DID YOU KNOW:  Dumping yard waste in green spaces is not only unsightly, it is illegal and subject to fines of up to $10,000?   For information on how to report illegal dumping, see our Bylaw page.