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Campbell River

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 the estuary.

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.

Considerable community co-operation has been focused on management of the Campbell River and its estuary. Extensive planning supports a responsibly-managed mix of land uses with the co-operation of many agencies and interests.

Proclaimed B.C. Rivers: