Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation

November 3, 2015

Conservation workers sometimes come across a few surprises when they’re out in the field. This year’s “check this out!” moment for the crew from the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation (Coastal Action) was the discovery of a house in Bridgewater that was built directly over a stream!

The Coastal Action crew assessed close to 200 stream crossings in the Main River sub-watershed as part of the organization’s 2015 LaHaveRiverwatershedprojectto develop a restoration plan for this important sub-watershed.

The Main River sub-watershed “is a significant gateway to the rest of the LaHave River watershed, making its aquatic connectivity a critical factor to investigate,” says Fredericks, a project coordinator with Coastal Action. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to take a new approach this year and focus on the network of stream crossings throughout the entire sub-watershed. The assessment would give us a sound understanding of aquatic connectivity and quicklyidentifyareasinneedoffurtherassessmentorrestoration.”

Efficiency was another reason for the new approach. “It also allowed us to cover the entire sub-watershed within thefieldseason,” says Fredericks.

It was a sound plan. Field workers identified a number of crossings in need of remediation. The work on five of them was completed this fall and access to a significant amount of upstream fish habitat was restored.

Coastal Action received $14,000 from ASCFthis year, for not only the Main River sub-watershed work, but for restoration of fish habitat in the West Branch sub-watershed, as well.

“Over the years, this group has prepared and implemented multiple watershed management plans with funding from ASCF,” says Stephen Chase, ASCF’s executive director. “Coastal Action’s work is a shining example of ASCF’s mission to promote and fund watershed planning as an important conservation tool to ensure efficient and effective use of limited resources.”

The work on the West Branch sub-watershed concentrated on a 560-meter tributary flowing from New Canada Lake to Wagner Lake. This time the crew had a “no surprise” experience when they discovered a pile of trash that had been dumped down the slope from the side of the road.

“We found tires, fishing gear, car parts, paint cans, farming equipment and a wide variety of other items,” Fredericks recounts.In addition to a dumpster full of garbage, about 1000 pounds of scrap metal was also removed and sent to be recycled.

Other initiatives completed in the West Branch sub-watershed included the removal of a debris blockage and assessment and improvement of a wooden box culvert. In both cases, fish passage was restored.

The group did get a bit of a surprise when one landowner was highly opposedto the work proposed for a stream adjacent to her property.

“For the most part, landowners have been very positive and helpful,” says Fredericks. Ever resourceful, she and her crew quickly switched gears and developed a new project, choosing to work on Ross Brook in the Main River sub-watershed.

“We improved fish habitat along 500 meters of streamwhen we installed two digger logs and a deflector, thinned alders, removed a debris blockage and did a significant amount of step-pool habitat restoration work.”

In total, Coastal Action restored some 8,000 m2 of fish habitat this year and has developed a detailed plan for future work in the Main River sub-watershed. With over 1,700 km² to work on, they’re sure to uncover a few more surprises!