Moose RiverJanuary 4, 2015
The Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) was formed in 1990 as a non-profit, environmental organization, driven by the vision of an ecologically healthy Annapolis River watershed. In 2011, the group made history. After years of planning, CARP successfully lead the first-ever removal of a major dam by a community group in Nova Scotia.
“The Province, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and funders were very pleased with the results,” says Monik Richard, CARP’s former Executive Director.
“We had been careful and thorough in our planning, and the dam removal went off without a hitch.”The dam had been built in the 1940’s on the Moose River, almost two kilometres upstream from where the river enters the Annapolis Basin. Originally intended to secure the water supply for a then-nearby Canadian Forces base, the area was further developed by the local Legion and community as a public swimming facility. In more recent years, care of the area had been abandoned and the dam was deteriorating to the point that it was a barrier to fish migration.
There was no clear legal ownership of the dam, so CARP took the initiative in 2008 to head the dam removal project, including restoration of the fish habitat.
Recognizing the community’s attachment to the former swimming hole, CARP held three public meetings in 2009 during the feasibility study phase. “When people learned that the dam was a problem, they agreed it was important to restore passage for the Atlantic salmon. They were supportive,” says Richard.
The group received a $10,000 grant from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation for rental of heavy equipment for the dam removal, staff to manage the job, and restoration work on the banks. CARP worked closely with government departments and received additional financial and technical support through partnerships with other like-minded organizations—the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, in particular. The priceless support of volunteers for fish species assessments and restoration work came from several directions, including anglers, girl guides and students from the Nova Scotia Community College.
Richard believes good, consistent communication is a vital part of any project. “We had lots of people driving by, asking what was going on and watching the work,” she recalls. “When we started posting daily photos on our website and Facebook, we got a boost in on-line traffic, and the project made the front page of the local newspaper. We also presented the project at the Bay of Fundy EcoSystem Partnership conference in Saint John. We always acknowledge our funders and supporters; without them, we couldn’t do this great work.”
CARP will monitor water quality and any changes to the watercourse over the next few years. Richard points out that the project was starting from a couple of historical pluses. Moose River was known to support a healthy run of Atlantic salmon prior to construction of the dam, and salmon continued to be present below the dam in recent fish surveys. Also, the natural limestone that buffers the river has protected it from the effects of acid rain, unlike so many Nova Scotia rivers that have been severely impacted. Moose River has recorded healthy pH values as high as 7.48.