Tahsish-Kwois Park was established in 1995 as part of the Vancouver Island Land Use plan. An additional 193 hectares was added to the park in 2001. This acquisition protects valuable estuary habitat at the mouth of the Tahsish River and some old growth forest.
Tahsish-Kwois Park lies within the traditional territory of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations. The Tahsish River estuary contains a heritage site situated in Kyuquot Indian Reserve No. 11. This site was a historic First Nations village inhabited during the salmon season. There are no standing structures, but archaeological deposits are expected to be present.
Historic documents and native legend refer to a major trade route known as the Grease Trail between Tahsish Inlet and the mouth of Nimpkish River via the Tahsish River valley, Atluck Lake and Nimpkish Lake. It is also apparent from the establishment of Kyuquot Indian Reserve No. 11 that the Tahsish River area was a traditional hunting and fishing area.
Tahsish-Kwois Park and the adjacent Ecological Reserve area are situated at the head of Kyuquot Sound where the Tahsish River flows into Tahsish Inlet. This park is one of the largest parks on Vancouver Island, covering approximately 11,022 hectares. The park’s natural features include old growth clad 1,200 metre high mountains, a high-elevation lake (850 metres), a significant low-elevation lake (100 metres), a scenic river canyon and U-shaped river valleys.
The adjacent Ecological Reserve encompasses 70 hectares of an island tidal estuary containing tidal meadows, a rare plant species, Roosevelt elk and black bear habitat.
Tahsish-Kwois Park has three rivers which provide fish rearing habitat for provincially significant populations of salmonid species. Only one river, the Tahsish, is not wholly contained within the park, but has its source and half its length beyond the park’s eastern boundary.
The Tahsish-Kwois system supports all anadromous and resident salmonid species native to Vancouver Island. In the estuary of the Tahsish River, the network of channels with various depths, flow characteristics and substrates present provides migrating, spawning and particularly rearing habitat for salmonid fish. The Tahsish watershed supports populations of at least 10 species of fish.
The watersheds that comprise Tahsish-Kwois Park are a natural ecosystem supporting viable populations of most wildlife species occurring on Vancouver Island. All the major predator and fur-bearing species inhabit the area, including grey wolves, cougar, black bears, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, mink, raccoon and river otter. The park also supports a variety of birds associated with the aquatic and old growth forest habitat. Estimates indicate that the lower Tahsish ranks as one of the best elk ranges on Vancouver Island.