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Original News Release

       

 


  BACKGROUNDER  

2005ENV0094-001007

Nov. 5, 2005

Parks Canada

Ministry of Environment

Cowichan Tribes

 

COWICHAN RIVER – A NATIONAL HERITAGE RIVER

 


·         The Cowichan River on Vancouver Island flows 47 km from mountain-ringed Cowichan Lake through forests and fields to a large ocean estuary at Cowichan Bay.

·         Cowichan, derived from the Coast Salish word ‘Khowutzun’ means “land warmed by the sun” and ice formation on the river is rare.

·         The estuary is a wintering area for thousands of waterfowl, and salmon and trout spawn up the river and its tributaries. This provided a rich food source, and the river was a central location in the history of the Salish Aboriginal people.

·         Nominated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, the Cowichan has long played an important role with local First Nations. The area has a rich and diverse cultural history for the Cowichan Tribes and contains archaeological sites and important areas for traditional sustenance and spiritual use.

·         Today, the river valley is a homeland to the Cowichan First Nation and a recreational treasure at the doorstep of nearby communities. A footpath along its entire length and a park along 20 km of the river allow access to fishing, swimming, tubing and canoeing.

·         The Cowichan River Provincial Park protects Douglas fir and western hemlock forests and rare wild flowers. A Garry oak stand in the park may be the most westerly in Canada.

·         Wildflowers such as the endangered cup-clover have been recorded near Skutz Falls.

·         River-oriented recreation activities include wild salmon and steelhead fishing, swimming, kayaking, tubing and picnicking. Trail-based recreation activities include hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife viewing and nature appreciation.

·         The historic 20-kilometre Cowichan River Trail and the recently completed Trans Canada Trail (with refurbished trestles), provides access for hikers, bikers and equestrians.

·         During the early 1900s, the river also served as a transportation corridor to Lake Cowichan for local logging operations. Today, old spring board stumps, remnants of camps and rail lines testify to the area’s important logging history.

·         The natural and cultural treasures protected within this area have earned it both BC Heritage River and Canadian Heritage River status.

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Media

contact:

Brigitte Caron

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of the Environment

819 997-1441

 

Don McDonald

Communications Director

Ministry of Environment

250 387-9973

 

 

Steve Langdon

Field Unit Superintendent

Parks Canada, Coastal British Columbia

250 363-3511

 

Brennan Gohn

Communications Manager

Khowutzun Development Corporation

250 746-8350

 

Visit the Province's website at www.gov.bc.ca for online information and services.