Belfast Area Watershed Group Inc.
Community Engagement and Fostering Biodiversity
Belfast Area Watershed Group (BAWG) marked a successful third year of full operation in 2020, albeit under restrictions due to the COVID-19 public health guidelines impacting various community events. However, restoration and monitoring activities continued.
BAWG secured funding to hire seven seasonal full-time crew dedicated to restoration and monitoring, and one staff member focused on member outreach and distribution of tree swallow birdboxes throughout the region. Through the UPEI Environmental Studies internship program an intern worked on creation of a curriculum for future educational sessions- your watershed.
Our first pollinator gardens were installed to create habitat for pollinators. A managed garden was installed at Gillis Lodge in Eldon, and the first phase of a naturalized pollinator garden began in Flat River on the Davies property.
15 community members participated in the volunteer tree planting day in June and resulted in over 400 native trees and shrubs being planted on retired agricultural land at Flat River. The BAWG staff also planted on various riparian and shoreline zones in the region which resulted in over 1347 native species being planted in 2020.
Although, COVID-19 restrictions caused the cancellation of the "Songs for our Streams" annual fundraiser, fishing day and fly-fishing workshop series, the group was able to hold a Fossil Walk with 27 in attendance at Earsncliffe. Also, BAWG staff opened an outreach location at Wood Islands Visitors Village each Friday, and hosted a free tree give-a-way (300 trees) and a critter dip at the local pond.
Assessment surveys were continued on our smaller watersheds: Point Prim, Gascoigne, Black Marsh, and Little Sands. The coastal regions of the watershed were maintained through beach and river clean-up efforts, and continuing bank swallow surveys identified critical habitat within the watershed.
Much effort was involved in removal of tree obstructions due to the hurricane Dorian along the Pinette, Flat and Belle River systems, along with further restoration work to allow fish passage further upstream, including the removal of washed-out culverts on Flat River and the repair of a culvert system on Belle River. The crew installed brush mats to control sediment, built cover structures and rock weirs for fish habitat.
In 2020 our crew installed a fish trap at MacPherson's Mill, near the head of tide on the Flat River. This initiative allowed us to assess the population of sea-run brook trout in the system as well as other migratory species. The fish trap was built, installed, and monitored daily at MacPherson Mill Road on Flat River. Over 700 native brook trout, seven American eel, and 149 rainbow trout were captures, measured and released. Additionally, the fish trap was a tremendous experience for our employees who gained valuable experience in fish identification, handling and processing.