Elephant Hill Wildlife Riparian Restoration Project

The Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia is honored to be working alongside the Secwepemcul’ecw Restoration and Stewardship Society (SRSS)1 in their efforts to monitor and ultimately restore riparian areas impacted by the 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire2. Funding for this 5-year project comes from the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. 

Our role in the project is focused on water quality monitoring efforts. This is an important part of the project, since pre- and post-treatment measurements are necessary for evaluating project outcomes and informing adaptive management decisions. Further, by developing local capacity in monitoring technologies and techniques, another important objective of our work is the sustainable management of these riparian areas long after project completion. This includes monitoring for erosion, industrial run-off, and other potential disturbances and changes. 

With this in mind, Dr. Karen Bakker, Dr. Mark Johnson and graduate student Christopher Reimer are assisting with the selection of appropriate technologies, as well as with the facilitation of workshops related to their construction, deployment, and subsequent data analysis methods. The result is a build out and field deployment of sixteen (16) do-it-yourself EC-GPS3 data loggers and ten (10) autonomous nodes that capture water quality information. Together, this suite of devices will allow SRSS technicians to build a robust dataset of water quality parameters. 

Confronted with the realities of COVID-19 during this project, the team has adapted workshops to include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous training. One exciting outcome is the development of a new suite of step-by-step videos to accompany existing resources related to the EC-GPS loggers. In addition, this project has resulted in the creation of an updated version of the EC-GPS manual. All of these materials are now hosted on the decolonizing water website.


 1SRSS is a society formed to advance the sustainable management of lands and resources, restoration of degraded lands, and adaptation of landscapes to climate change in the traditional territories of its eight founding Secwépemc Communities: St’uxwtews (Bonaparte Indian Band), Llenlleney’ten (High Bar First Nation), Skeetchestn (Skeetchestn Indian Band), Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek Indian Band), Ts’kw’aylaxw (Pavilion Indian Band), Tsq’escenemc (Canim Lake Indian Band), Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) and Pellt’iq’t (Whispering Pines Clinton Indian Band).

2The Elephant Hill Fire was one of the largest fires of the 2017 wildfire season in British Columbia. It devastated a large area in the Bonaparte and Deadman River watersheds, burning 192,725 hectares over 75 days. These rivers and their tributaries provide essential habitat to Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead trout, rainbow trout, and other important species. The endangered population of Thompson River Steelhead was also impacted.

3EC-GPS stands for electrical conductivity and global positioning system. These loggers capture electrical conductivity and temperature data, paired with geospatial and temporal data.