Pisquid River Enhancement Project
Stream Enhancement and Silt Removal from Head of Hillsborough
The Pisquid River Enhancement Project's Spring 2020 Wildlife Conservation Fund 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, 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:
Assess and address blow-down damage and stream blockages from Hurricane Dorian (September 2019) and subsequent fall and winter storms
Remove and stabilize silt from two Head of Hillsborough sediment traps (i.e., ponds) above Route 323
Enhance native plant biodiversity and riparian zone structure in Head of Hillsborough stream sections above Route 323, Clark's Creek (i.e., Callaghan's Branch), and the Pisquid River (i.e., the Dunphy Road and Fairville Road stream sections as well as Steven Cousins' property
Improve fish passage and finfish spawning and rearing habitat in the areas listed above
Document and disseminate wildlife improvement actions.
As for results, in early spring, fish access and general stream assessment surveys were conducted in all the targeted stream sections, and 20 trees causing blockages in Pisquid, Hillsborough, and Vernon River streams were noted and removed, as were a series of beaver dams.
In September, MacRae's Backhoe & Trucking excavated a total of 457m³ of silt from the abovementioned sediment traps, the spoils having been mulched and seeded with winter oats. Also, PREP provided 606 native trees and shrubs to cooperating landowners, who then planted them throughout our jurisdiction(s). A total of 20 new brush mats were installed in the Vernon and Pisquid rivers, covering a length of 140 meters. Though community events were halted due to COVID-19, efforts to educate the public about wildlife conservation concerns were maintained via media releases and our Facebook page.
These results could not have been successfully achieved without the WCF support. In closing, this project provided many benefits to PEI wildlife, the most notable being as follows. The trees and shrubs that were planted will increase biodiversity, enhance and protect riparian zones, and provide food and cover for animals. The trimming and/or removal of countless alders will promote understory growth and prevent stream blockages, improving fish passage. Fish passage was also improved by removing beaver dams, allowing sea run fish increased access to spawning habitat. The new brush mats will capture runoff sediment and stabilize riverbanks. Newly installed in-stream cover structures - e.g., floating cover logs, plank cover structures, cover boulders, etc. - will enhance and increase fish holding and cover areas. Newly installed deflector logs and rock deflectors will create pools for fish and deflect water from riverbanks, slowing erosion. Significantly, the removal of silt from the sediment traps will help re-establish rearing ground for fish species such as the threatened Atlantic salmon. We also assisted with HRA's osprey nesting pole installation, having aided in the construction of the platforms.