Summer Riparian Health Assessments and C.A.M.P.

If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere along the water in the Wheatley River watershed, you might have noticed a bit more activity than usual, with the WRIG`s fantastic field crew, Beverly Ward, Eric Sylvester and Denver Parkman, being quite occupied with various stream enhancement initiatives.

Riparian Health Assessments continue in 2011

Adding to their good work, WRIG and the Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group has,  for the 2nd field season, employed a student to continue with the Riparian Health Assessments for various sections of streams, tributaries and the estuaries in Wheatley River and Hunter-Clyde watersheds.

Christine MacLauchlan, an enthusiastic and energetic 3rd year UPEI Biology student, has spent the early part of the season speaking with landowners to obtain permission to access private land-buffer-zones, leaning the GPS and GIS systems and becoming well acquainted with the areas.  Accompanied by either a volunteer or one other watershed field crew member and armed with a good pair of chest waders, a can of bug spray, a Garmin GPS unit and her assessment sheets, Christine is now covering allot of ground or,..”water” in this case, each day she spends in the field.

Her goal is to identify areas of our watersheds buffer-zones that could benefit from stream restoration work or tree planting, to locate and identify invasive species, monitor for beaver activity while keeping an eye out for anoxia events and sources of stream sediment loading. Generally, she and her partner will survey each section, or reach, of streams and grade it’s the overall health.

It is important to note that the information collected during the survey is kept completely confidential by each watershed group and is not shared between groups, with government departments of any third party, but is used to help the watershed groups focus their efforts on restoration and to help the landowners in the stewardship of the watercourse or buffer-zone.

WRIG has gone to summer C.A.M.P.!

To further our objective to obtain the largest amount of pertinent baseline data about our watershed this summer, and as a result of discussions with our Nitrate Pilot Study partners, Mike van den Houvel, a Canada Council research scientiest with the Canadian Rivers Institute, and biologist at UPEI arranged for WRIG to be part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Communities Aquatic Monitoring Program (CAMP) this summer.  While WR is not an “official” CAMP site, they have dedicated to helping us with sampling.

The PEI CAMP Coordinator, Stephanie Cormier, working with myself and other board members, identified 3 CAMP monitoring sites in the river and estuary where a series seining samples will be taken over the summer to both record chemical conditions and identify the local fauna.   Parameters include, water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen as well fish and invertebrate species.  The initial session proved problematic as the nets where so full of algae that it was next to impossible to reel in the nets!  Interestingly, that fact, in itself, just continues to be a serious condition and must be noted.

Additional Monitoring – WRIG Volunteers Do Not Take the Summer Off

Our dedicated WRIG volunteer members and have again, rolled up their sleeves, but on their boots and are getting down and dirty with various watershed work this summer.  Several are keeping DEEF’s Estuary Watch Program Data sheets – to try to capture a truer picture of the frequency and severity of the anorexia events that take place each summer in the lower reaches of the river and the Rustico Bay and Estuary.

A few more WRIG members have become involved in a seperate monitoring program partnering with Agriculture Canada.  Parameters selected for this study include phosphate levels, light and DO.  Others are accompanying Christine and contributing to the collection of data for the Riparian Health Assessments,  another has dedicated to providing a good rainy day work space for the habitat improvement projects for our field crew, others provide maintenance of the property at Rackham’s Community Pond, a headquarters and equipment storage space, direction and leadership and management of the summer field crew, while another has undertaken to provide a butterfly survey of the watershed.

Some of this work and monitoring will continue until the first week  September and some will continue into the fall but, the crux of it is that by the season’s end, our watershed group and community will have a much clearer picture of the environmental conditions of our watershed.