Sackville Rivers Association

July 11, 2017

Thanks to the perseverance, dedication, and teamwork shown by the volunteer members of the Sackville Rivers Association (SRA) the Sackville River Watershed is in good hands.

The SRA has been working since 1988 to restore, protect, and preserve the Sackville River Watershed. The restoration work not only involves the main Sackville River, but all its tributaries; the brooks that represent spawning habitat for the Atlantic salmon.

The latest river restoration project the group is working on will provide fish habitat restoration on three watercourses in the watershed – Sandy Lake Brook, Stoney Brook, and the Little Sackville River. The first is in the community of Hammonds Plains in the White Birch Hills subdivision and the Glen Arbour subdivision in the western part of the watershed, the second is in Middle Sackville in the central part of the watershed, and the third is in the heart of Lower Sackville in the central part of the watershed.

The project is possible in part because of $5,000 in grant funding from the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation.

Damon Conrad, SRA coordinator, explains the project will continue to restore feeders to of one of the four largest tributaries to the Sackville River – Thompson Run, through the installation of habitat restoration structures (such as diggerlogs, rocksills, and rock deflectors) and through improvement of low flow and creation of pools lost through past impacts on the watercourse.

“We will also be installing structure on the most important tributary to the main Sackville River, the Little Sackville River as well as a major tributary to the Little Sackville River, Stoney Brook,” he said.

This project will benefit the entire watershed by increasing its overall productivity. All the work planned was outlined in the SRA Sackville River Watershed Restoration Plan (SRWRP). The SRWRP is the SRA’s current guiding plan for restoration work on tributaries on the Sackville River Watershed in the context of salmonid habitat and what can be done to create/improve/restore said habitat.”

Conrad said all three watercourses involved are continuations of past projects – Sandy Lake Brook is a feeder to Thompson Run (2010 and 2015 projects), Stoney Brook is a continuation of restoration from 2013 and 2014 and the Little Sackville River is a continuation of a 2016 project and has been the concentration of SRA’s since 1988.

“All three of these watercourses have either been surveyed (electrofishing) and have been proven to contain salmon, or are part of a system that has been surveyed and has been proven to contain salmon. All of the projects involved above have been funded by ASCF in the past and all are continued efforts in different reaches of these watercourse and/or systems to restore/enhance/create salmon habitat.”

The purpose of this project is to support directly the population of the Atlantic salmon – and indirectly the other 12 species in the watershed – which on Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast (Southern Uplands) is a species considered endangered, through restoration of its habitat.

“At this point every salmon is crucial, as is every square meter of habitat. Due to this, SRA strives to restore and protect every watercourse known to carry Atlantic salmon currently in the Sackville River watershed, as well as those which would have carried salmon in the past before development and other land use had impacted this critical habitat.

Conrad said this project strives to increase habitat, improve fish passage, and increase the flow of water through channel definition, flow consolidation, and debris dam removal.

“These activities will assist in the recovery of the Atlantic salmon, while also indirectly supporting populations of speckled trout and gaspereau. The success of the project will be determined through inspections by the Adopt-a-Stream program (permit holders) and the continued success of the structures will be measured by annual inspection and maintenance by SRA.”

“This project is very important for the various communities of the watershed as it will show how suburban and urban streams, if restored and protected, can be healthy and can support viable populations of Atlantic salmon. This project can also prove to other communities that their suburban and urban streams can also be a healthy home to native fish of all kinds. Once you show people that these suburban streams can be more than the perceived drainage ditch, they are more likely to become stewards of their own local stream.”

The Sackville River has recently been identified by DFO as one of the 13 Priority Rivers on the Southern Uplands with regards to Atlantic salmon populations.

“Because of this, projects such as this are important as ever in relation to protecting and rebuilding stocks of wild Atlantic salmon in Nova Scotia.”