The Central Queens Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation (CQWF) had a productive work season in 2022 with an interesting end to the field season! The following will discuss an overview of our work season and highlight some of our larger project aspects.
Our summer field crew spent a portion of the summer working on improving Atlantic salmon spawning and juvenile rearing habitat on the lower reaches of Howell’s Brook and also on the main West River. Our crew placed 16 tonnes of Nova Scotia river rock at 17 spawning areas (13 on Howell’s Brook and 4 on the main West River). The goal of this was to provide high-quality spawning substrate with soft engineered structures in place to encourage female salmon to spawn in high-quality habitat with the hopes of increasing embryo survival. At 19 locations another 16 tonnes of R5 rock was placed in riffle areas along the lower reaches of Howell’s Brook to help improve juvenile rearing habitat nearby the improved spawning areas. The goal of this was to increase the stream bottom coarseness in order to provide abundant juvenile rearing habitat to reduce competitiveness and increase survival. This project was funded by the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation and the PEI Watershed Alliances Habitat Stewardship Fund.
CQWF partnered with the Department of Environment and Transportation Infrastructure and Energy in a final act to remove and dispose of contaminated soils in Bonshaw. There was an accident in the 1970s and a tractor trailer carrying a load of bunker fuel left the highway in Bonshaw and crashed nearby the river. Most of the accident was cleaned up but there was a portion of the load buried on site. Moving forward to recent years the bunker fuel was still being picked up by CQWF as the summer temperatures began to rise the bunker fuel would also rise to the surface along the edge of the river. In 2022, CQWF had Island Coastal Services excavated the accident site and had the contaminated spoils disposed of at the East Prince Waste Management Facility in Wellington.
CQWF was funded by the Wildlife Conservation Fund for restoration work on the Clyde River. CQWF spent a considerable amount of time restoring aspects of the Clyde River. This involved revisiting the newly restored sections of stream (2021) to continue the restoration process and also conducted stream maintenance along 3.95km of stream. Along these newly enhanced sections, 21 cover logs and 15 brush mats were installed. A sediment trap was re-excavated on the west branch permanently removing 300 m3 of sediment. To cap off the work on the Clyde River in 2022 CQWF assisted in maintenance along the DTIE Cornwall by-pass compensation project site. A stream bank was eroding so rock was placed to help prevent further bank erosion.
The damage that occurred from Fiona left Islanders in shock. The West River took significant damage that will have consequences for many years to come. CQWF has started cleaning up the mess and ensuring our important spawning grounds remain accessible to migrating Atlantic salmon and brook trout. To date, CQWF removed +60 blockages along the main West River and lower Howell’s Brook. The fallen trees will provide habitat for salmonids but the issue is the sheer volume and timing of the storm. Dozens of blockages plugging the streams will prove challenges to migrating fish and also will slow the stream flow in key spawning areas rendering them not ideal for redd creation with the slower flow velocities.
CQWF takes pride in being leaders for stream restoration on PEI. CQWF uses a holistic approach when managing sections of streams and considering what the habitat usage is in areas and aligning the major limiting factors that need to be addressed. CQWF managed 38km of river in 2022 and along the way installed 79 brush mats, 93 cover structures, 43 spawning beds, and planted over 1,200 trees!
The work we accomplished during our field season wouldn’t be possible without certain partner collaboration and financial funding support. The following are partners and programs we would like to acknowledge:
- Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation
- Abegweit Biodiversity Enhancement Hatchery
- Canada Summer Jobs Fund
- Department of Communities Land and Environment
- Department of Fisheries and Ocean
- Department of Transportation Infrastructure and Energy
- Parks Canada
- Post- Secondary Student Support Program
- Habitat Stewardship Program
- Jobs for Youth Program
- PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund
- Along with other Watershed groups and many individuals who donated their time and knowledge!