Improvements to Highway 93 in British Columbia have been part of ongoing infrastructure rehabilitation in Canada’s national parks and historic sites. Along the highway adjacent to the Vermilion River, Barr has performed environmental impact assessments for Parks Canada Agency, including habitat assessments for potentially impacted species.
When the agency determined that constructing a rock revetment to stabilize a failing slope would affect fish habitat in the river, Barr was asked to develop compensation measures to improve habitat for bull trout, a species of special concern in British Columbia. At the time, there was no place for trout to rest and spawn, and the river was susceptible to falling debris from the eroding highway slope above.
Barr designed boulder vanes and clusters to create small pools in the river. Within an hour of completing the restoration, trout-spawning activity was observed near the first boulder vane (see video below). The natural channel design provided habitat features that were essential for bull trout, consistent with the geomorphology of the Vermilion River, and complementary to the slope-stabilization measures for the adjacent highway.