Belfast Area Watershed Group Inc.
Determining Restoration Options for MacPherson's Mill (Pinette River) and Implementing General Steam Restoration Techniques within the Watershed Area
The Belfast Area Watershed Group (BAWG) is PEI’s newest watershed group and 2018 marked the first year of full operation. In 2018, the group hired its first stream crew to conduct restoration activities in its watershed area. The stream crew conducted landowner outreach, volunteer engagement and stream restoration on the Flat River, Belle River and the three branches of the Pinette River. This included obstruction removal, minor flow alterations and brush mat construction. The crew only removed instream debris if it was deemed to pose a major fish passage impediment.
This light-handed approach was chosen as many of the areas were already determined to be productive brook trout spawning areas. On December 16, 2018, a follow up site inspection of an enhanced stretch on the Flat River had 32 trout redds (spawning nests). In some instances, trout had spawned adjacent to instream deflector logs and brush mats that the crew had installed. These restoration efforts have already provided additional spawning habitat for brook trout, which will result in greater angling opportunity. Another focus of the stream crew was alder patch cuts and planting of native riparian species. The stream crew also organized a volunteer tree planting day that had over 20 participants and 400 trees planted.
The other priority of 2018 was to determine the restoration options for MacPherson’s Mill on the Pinette River. BAWG directors held several engagement meetings with the community and landowners to review possible restoration options. The engineer surveys suggested that the most feasible option was to construct a new water control structure paired with a nature-like fishway to allow fish passage for the first time in almost two centuries. Based upon the results of the surveys, BAWG now has a strategic plan in place to pursue funding to complete the project. In the end, the property will become a well used green-space and the river will prosper from the added benefits of fish passage for all anadromous species.