Monitoring & Miscellaneous Watershed Assessments & Enhancement Work
Pisquid River Enhancement Project
Beaver Management, Atlantic Salmon & Trout REDD Surveying, Tree Care, River Otter Monitoring & Miscellaneous Watershed Assessments & Enhancement Work (TBD)
The Pisquid River Enhancement Project's Fall 2020 WCF project, undertaken in collaboration with the Hillsborough River Association (HRA) and volunteers, addressed many wildlife conservation needs in and around PEI's Hillsborough and Vernon River systems, i.e., the Pisquid River, the Vernon River, the Seal River, Ross Creek, Clark's Creek, and the Head of Hillsborough. The stated goals of the project were as follows, having been devised with the intention of improving wildlife diversity and forest structure while engaging the community: collect data on salmonid spawning sites via trout and Atlantic salmon redd surveys; improve fish passage via the trapping of beavers and the assessment of beaver damn in beaver management areas; undertake tree care (e.g., pruning and protection) to provide enhanced habitat, cover, and food sources for wildlife while also reinforcing buffer zones and reducing the harmful effects of agricultural runoff; monitor potential river otter activity via trail camera in order to inform future habitat enhancement strategies should they be recorded; and undertake miscellaneous watershed assessments and initiatives benefitting wildlife on a case-by-case basis and informing our work in a holistic sense.
As for results, from late November to mid-December, trout and Atlantic salmon redd surveys were conducted in the above-mentioned stream sections, with redds from both species having been found in all all of them (e.g., 54 Atlantic salmon redds total). Tree care and maintenance was undertaken in riparian and buffer zones in Lower Newtown, Orwell / Orwell Cove, and the West Branch of the Pisquid River. River otter tracks were observed at Pisquid Pond and the head of tide in Lower Newtown, which is exciting, as the species is essentially considered to have been extirpated from the Island. Two new plank/rebar fish cover structures were installed in Clark's Creek, and the trash removal we undertook is self-explanatory. Also, as mentioned, various watershed enhancement assessments - e.g., runoff and beaver activity surveys - informed out work in a holistic sense. These outcomes could not have been successfully achieved without WCF support.
This multifaceted project provided direct benefit to wildlife in many ways, the most notable being as follows. By undertaking beaver management measures, we eliminated and/or reduced the potential for future fish passage blockages, which will allow fish greater upstream access for species and those areas that require more enhancement initiatives. As mentioned, the tree care and maintenance undertaken will enhance habitat, cover, and food sources for wildlife while also reinforcing buffer zones and reducing the negative effects of agricultural runoff. Future river otter monitoring, informed by the observation of tracks, could inform habitat enhancement strategies for this species in the future. The newly installed in-stream cover structures will enhance and increase fish holding and cover areas. Finally, though community events were halted due to COVID-19 restrictions, efforts to educate the public were maintained via our Facebook page, which has and will ideally continue to enlist more citizens in the effort to conserve Island wildlife.