Pictou County Rivers Association (PCRA)

October 12, 2016

The Pictou County Rivers Association (PCRA) takes fish habitat protection very seriously, and the group is working hard on developing a salmon habitat conservation watershed management plan.

With the help of an $8500 grant from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, the PCRA is concentrating on the East River Watershed in Pictou County.

The project will see the PCRA survey at least half a dozen of the major tributaries of the river to identify fish habitat restoration needs, impediments to fish passage and water quality. This information will be used to prioritize fish habitat issues and to develop a multi-year strategy to address them.

While Pictou County rivers still support reasonably healthy stocks of Atlantic salmon, the fish are under constant threats from habitat loss and destruction, damage to streams through severe storms, threats to water quality, and illegal fishing activities.

Roy Parker, PCRA director, said the group felt itneeded to take a more organized and long term approach to their fish habitat protection and restoration work.

“In the past, the projects had followed a more ad hoc approach where we responded to local concerns raised by PCRA members or from members of the public,” he said.  “With the direction and encouragement of the NSLC Adopt-A-Stream program staff, we decided that we should develop a long term watershed management plan based on fish habitat issues.  This year is the first year of that project.”

“We selected the East River Pictou County as our target watershed. The East River is our largest river and supports important stocks of speckled trout, brown trout, and Atlantic salmon. PCRA members visited several of the important tributaries of the East River accompanied by staff from NSLC Adopt-A-Stream and we selected a couple of streams to begin our project.  We also identified eight other tributaries that we would look at over the next few years.”

Parker said in 2016 their river restoration crew constructed in-stream structures in two of the streams.

“In Archibald Brook, the crew constructed 12 structures over a 560 metre stretch of the brook resulting in 4500 m2 of fish habitat being restored. On Glencoe Brook, seven structures were installed over a 300 metre stretch of the stream resulting in 2100 m2 of restored habitat.”

Parker said fish habitat surveys were completed on each of these brooks to identify any obstructions to fish passage, substrate types, water quality, stream flow, riparian zone characteristics, and any sources of inflow to the streams.

“Similar surveys will be conducted on four other tributaries of the East River this fall.  Any culverts, bridges and other road crossings are being identified on each of these six streams and they will be assessed for fish passage.  The survey results will be collated and fish habitat issues will be identified and prioritized.  This information will form the basis for the development of a fish habitat based watershed management plan for the East River. The water shed plan will then be used to plan our annual fish habitat restoration projects over the next few years.”

The stream surveys are being completed this fall and the watershed management plan will be developed over the next couple of months.