Located in central Vancouver Island, the Campbell River drains an area
of 1,460 square kilometres. The river originates from rugged mountains in
the heart of the Island, including considerable areas with elevations greater
than 2,220 metres. The river registers flows that are the third largest
on Vancouver Island.
The area is the homeland
of the Kwatiutl First Nation. The salmon produced by the Campbell River
and estuary sustained the Kwatiutl people and their rich cultural traditions
for many centuries. Permanent settlements were common in the area and
many important traditional sites have been identified, especially on
Three dams have influenced
flow on the Campbell River since 1947 and have created major impoundments
within the watershed. In addition, diversions from the Heber, Salmon
and Quinsam rivers have added to the flow within the lower Campbell River.
The Campbell River
estuary is particularly significant to the biological and cultural history
of the river. Tidal influences create a rich environment that supports
an abundance of wild and hatchery-raised fish species,
including many freshwater, marine and anadromous species. All five species
of salmon (chinook,
coho, pink, chum and sockeye) as well as sea-run trout (steelhead
and cutthroat) use the estuary during their life cycle. While tidal
action is strong, the gradient of the estuary is relatively steep, limiting
the tidal influence to a distance of about 2.5 km and resulting in a
prevalence of gravel in bottom sedimentation compared to the sand and
mud sediments of lower gradient coastal rivers such as the Fraser.
The estuary was a prime
site for industrial activities, especially logging. A much greater
mix of land uses has emerged in recent times. Over the years, recreational
activity has expanded both in the estuary and along the length of the
river as fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, hiking and nature
study have become major activities in the area.
co-operation has been focused on management
of the Campbell River and its estuary. Extensive planning supports
mix of land uses with the co-operation of many agencies and interests.
Proclaimed B.C. Rivers: