Fish Habitat Restoration - Off-Channel Techniques


Fish Habitat Restoration (FHR) - Off-Channel Techniques is a two-day comprehensive review of Fish Habitat Restoration techniques and standard methods, with a strong focus on restoring off-channel habitats.  This FHR course includes a ‘tool box’ approach to the many phases of fish habitat restoration planning, design, implementation and monitoring/ maintenance. FHR Off-Channel Techniques is developed and delivered by two of Canada’s preeminent DFO fish habitat restoration biologists, who bring a combined 65+ years of fish habitat restoration experience.

The course includes classroom-based presentations, exercises, case-studies and field review of existing FHR projects where course participants will learn first-hand how to plan, construct, monitor, evaluate and maintain a wide variety of restoration projects.

FHR - Off-Channel Techniques is one in a series of NRTG Fish Habitat Restoration training programs currently offered, including Fish Habitat Restoration - Instream Techniques. Each program focuses on a specific area of restoration and is designed to compliment the our other FHR training program(s). These courses may be completed in any order.

Note: The FHR - Off-Channel course will be offered in a few select locations and dates in British Columbia where a variety of high-quality, existing restoration sites exist. This delivery strategy will maximize the participant’s learning through the ‘hands on’ review and inspection of field sites, field exercises and applicable case studies.

Each NRTG course includes free, lifetime admission. Enrol once - come back anytime.



Upon successful completion, participants will be able to:   

  • Identify the types of fish habitat restoration options and methods

  • Identify and apply stream hydrology and river engineering principles

  • Conduct a preliminary reconnaissance for a potential FHR project

  • Conduct a limiting factor analysis for target fish species and life stage

  • Identify key biological factors to consider and incorporate into FHR planning

  • Identify and contrast physical design considerations and project selection criteria for off-channel restoration techniques, and habitat offset and compensation/mitigation projects

  • Build strategic, long-term partnerships with stewardship groups, aboriginal groups, industry, government and the general public

  • Identify sources of funding

  • Identify key scheduling considerations for a Fish Habitat Restoration project

  • Assess the potential for a proposed groundwater-fed off-channel habitat project

  • Apply key technical criteria for construction of groundwater-fed off-channel habitat, river-fed channel, and fish-passage projects for coho, sockeye, chum salmon and other fish species

  • Identify and conduct key phases of a FHR project, including; river profiles, determining flood levels, channel profiling, test pits and groundwater monitoring procedures

  • Implement beaver management strategies to compliment FHR projects

  • Identify and contrast applicability and suitability for in-river projects (e.g., Newbury Riffle template) and off-channel habitat restoration

Who enrolls in the FHR Off-Channel course?

Course participants may include: field technicians, biologists and other professionals required to conduct the field tasks relating to any fish habitat restoration project. Previous experience with Fish Habitat Assessment or completion of NRTG’s Fish Habitat Assessment - Level One course is recommended.


No prerequisites. 

Personal Protective Equipment:

Chestwaders with non-slip footwear, field notebooks with waterproof paper, appropriate field wear (rain gear, sunscreen, layered clothing), classroom supplies (pen, paper, calculator).  Note: please come prepared for field trips and training sessions each day.  Please bring a bag lunch and beverage each day. Course participants will be required to carpool or provide their own transportation to field sites. 

How do I Attend? 

To attend the FHR Off-Channel course, please refer to our schedule, where online registration is available. For 2018/19, this course will be available at a few select locations and dates in British Columbia. For further information, please contact us.   

Check our course Schedule page for upcoming course deliveries. 


Matt Foy

BSc Zoology, University of British Columbia

For 35+ years, Matt worked as a DFO Fish Habitat Biologist throughout BC in the field of community involvement, salmon enhancement and habitat restoration.

Matt is a true pioneer in fish habitat restoration, having designed, constructed and developed many salmon habitat restoration projects and techniques in watersheds throughout the Lower mainland of BC, including projects located within the Chilliwack-Vedder River watershed.

Matt retired from DFO in 2015, and continues to be involved with issues and projects affecting salmon as a volunteer with both the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition.

Mel Sheng

For 39 years, Mel worked as a DFO Fisheries Biologist in the Resource Restoration Division, focusing on habitat restoration and enhancement of wild salmonid species.

Mel specialized in the design and construction of groundwater channels and side-channels primarily designed to provide highly productive juvenile rearing and adult spawning habitat.

Mel is a highly regarded restoration biologist. In his career, Mel, devoted a significant amount of time designing procedures for riverbank and ocean shore re-stabilization, riparian revegetation, cattle fencing, beaver dam control and development of water storage projects for increasing minimum summer streamflow. For a ten-year period, Mel designed and installed large woody debris structures and spawning gravel platforms in west coast main stem rivers, designed estuary restoration programs, and designed and managed lake and river fertilization and fishway construction projects.

Mel is now retired from DFO, and works as a private biological consultant independently and partnering with other consultants, non-profits, municipal and federal government agencies.

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