Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance

June 7, 2016

Monitor, restore, enhance, and repeat.

That is the basis of an ongoing project the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance (PWA) is involved in to help ‘broken brooks’.

The Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation provided $60,000 in funding for the three year project – 2015 was the second year.

Christine McLauchlan, PWA’s executive director, explains the intent of the project is to identify, assess, map, and remediate threats to fish passage in the Petitcodiac River watershed.

“Threats to fish passage include anything that creates a full or partial barrier to upstream cold water habitats, such as culverts, debris, blockages, and dams,” says McLauchlan.

“The long term effects of the project will include a baseline study of ‘pass-ability’ to major fish bearing streams, remediation activities, and communication to the Department of Transportation so we can collaborate on fixing larger issues out of our field staffs’ capabilities.”

McLauchlan notes a huge component to the project is outreach.

“We prioritize educating the public so they understand the effects of poor infrastructure design, installation and maintenance on their fish stocks. We’ve really optimized on the recent media attention culverts have been getting for the floods they’ve been causing around here to add the message of “hey, remember that there are fish too- think it could swim up past that tiny hanging culvert?”

McLauchlan says the PWA will continue its work in monitoring, restoring and enhancing salmon habitat and numbers.

“We will also elevate our dataset with the assessment of potential fish passage barriers in the watershed. Improperly installed or damaged instream watercourse structures can cause migration barriers and block access to upstream habitat. Aquatic connectivity assessments will be focused on culverts on fish bearing streams within the watershed with the help of GIS mapping and survey equipment. Restoration plans will be created and some rehabilitation – tail water control structures, channel roughening, debris removal – will occur to restore fish passage.”

Fifty assessments were completed in the watershed in 2015 – bringing the total since the project began to 101. Twelve were passable, there were 13 partial and 25 full barriers. All full and partial barrier culverts have remediation plans and the PWA implemented 13 debris removal activities at full barrier sites and installed three rock weirs in the Pollett River.

The PWA also helped release 245 adult salmon and 23,000 fry in the fall along with Fort Folly Habitat Recovery, Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition, and DFO.

McLauchlan says they will be doing another 50 culvert assessments in the North and Anagance Rivers in the summer of 2016. Waterways assessed at project’s end will be the Pollett River, Little River, Weldon Creek, North River, and Anagance River.

 “We also assist at a fish trap in Salisbury under the leadership of Fort Folly Habitat Recovery Program and AMEC Foster Wheeler consulting. We assist in fish re-stocking efforts also.”