A video celebrating our 25th Anniversary:
A recording of our 2020 Annual General Meeting:
A Cheaper Way to Fight Flooding, John Chilibeck, Daily Gleaner
Some very thirsty trees are being planted this week beside the Nashwaak River on a huge chunk of city land, part of a larger effort to restore the sensitive environment to its natural state. About a dozen Indigenous workers on Wednesday worked the land at Neil’s Flats, located just off of Canada Street on the north side. Hidden by a strip of silver maples, most of the more than 50 hectares is abandoned farmland, once used for haying. The thick grass has become its own habitat, preventing trees from growing.
Misty Paul of St. Mary’s First Nation says she loves this kind of work because the trees will help prevent future flooding and keep the tributary healthy for fish and other creatures. “Anything that absorbs the water and keeps the water, those kinds of trees are perfect,” she said as she planted an oak seedling. “The big trees that remain beside the river have a huge root system. They soak up and keep the water, and they’ll feed these new trees and help them grow, so that one day, this place will be full of trees.”
The work is taking place thanks to a partnership between the Nashwaak Watershed Association, several Wolastoqey First Nations, the federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the municipality. Over the last few years, Indigenous workers who normally spend much of the warmer months doing fish counts as part of scientific surveys in the St. John River system have also joined the watershed association to help plant thousands of trees on two city-owned properties: Neil’s Flats and Marysville Flats. They plant only native species, such as silver maple, bur oak and the endangered butternut. On this day, more than 100 trees worth $15 each were donated by Liberty Tree Nursery of nearby Beaverdam.
The group carefully measured out several rows, making sure the holes were spaced two metres apart. Silica gel beads were dumped in to help retain moisture, and then a tree was plopped in and surrounded with soil. The last step is dumping a pail of water from the river on the soil surrounding the tree. The watershed association plans to fill the entire floodplain in this area by 2030. Marieka Chaplin, the association’s executive director, said silver maples are one of their favourites because a single tree can soak up 220 litres of water per hour. She pointed out the silver maple floodplain forest is the most disturbed kind of land in eastern North America, once prized by farmers because of the rich soil and easy access to water.
Her organization tries to convince waterfront property owners to convert their lands back to forest to help ease flooding and restore habitat.
“We know we have flooding issues and climate change,” Chaplin said. “It’s way easier and cheaper to have the trees do the work than build storm retention ponds and other expensive engineering projects.”
A floodplain forest, Chaplin said, has twice as much biodiversity of an upland forest. The cool shade and woody debris supplied by overhanging trees lowers water temperatures, making them ideal for endangered species such as wild Atlantic salmon. That’s one aspect that inspires Brian Polchies of Woodstock First Nation, who spent springs in his childhood picking fiddleheads and whose ancestors used to smoke and eat fresh salmon as their main staple. He’s been working with DFO since the early 1990s doing scientific data collection on rivers such as the Tobique, Nashwaak and Big Salmon. He enjoyed taking time out Wednesday to plant trees. “The salmon numbers have dropped considerably since I first started on all rivers. All of them. It’s concerning,” Polchies said. “That’s why I like doing what I’m doing. I’m trying to help. Whether it’s doing any good or not, only posterity can say.”
For the article as it appeared in the newspaper:
Improving aquatic habitat and connectivity in our watershed is one of the priority targets in our strategic plan. Given that 68 % of the culverts surveyed in the Nashwaak Watershed are partial to full barriers to fish passage, there remains much to be done by way of increasing access for fish to coldwater tributaries and refugia. According to DFO barriers to fish passage are the greatest threat to healthy freshwater ecosystems. DFO identified the Nashwaak River as a priority salmon river for recovery in the lower Wolastoq/St. John River system. Thus far in 2020 we have already carried out one successful culvert remediation project with two more planned before the end of September.
The East Ryan Brook fish ladder installation took place this summer, where a concrete box culvert was retrofitted with an aluminum fish ladder. The culvert was impeding access to cold water upstream habitat for fish, including Brook Trout and Atlantic Salmon, which cannot tolerate sustained water temperatures above 22 °C. Access to cold water refugia is of particular importance during hot, dry summer weather as we have been having this year. The sustained high temperatures this summer have resulted in water temperatures in the Nashwaak River this August exceeding 25 °C in some areas. Electrofishing last year found many brook trout using this coldwater stream.
Several baffles were installed to backwater the culvert so that there is enough water for fish to pass through the culvert. Heavy rocks were also placed in the culvert to simulate a natural stream bed. The combination of rocks and baffles serves to slow water moving through the culvert by making it meander so that it is easier for fish to swim upstream.
We would like to thank Tek Steel LTD for manufacturing and installing the ladder, HILCON Ltd for the design, BGC Engineering Inc for assisting with the installation, and the New Brunswick Department of Transport & Infrastructure for allowing us to work on their infrastructure. This project was funded by The Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, WWF Canada, the NB Environmental Trust Fund, and the NB Wildlife Trust Fund.
As NB heads into a general election, we want to know: what will local candidates do to uphold the commitments made with regards to conservation?
We posed three questions to all candidates in the Fredericton North, Fredericton York and Fredericton Grand Lake ridings (the Nashwaak Watershed crosses through each of these political ridings).
1. What will you do to increase New Brunswick’s current 4.6% protected land for conservation to the international and national targets of 25% by 2025, and 30% by 2030?
2. What will you do to protect wetlands, buffers along streams, rivers, coastal habitats, and floodplains as well as healthy forests to protect us from flooding due to the changing climate?
3. What will you do to implement the provincial water strategy?
Special thanks to our conservation colleagues at Nature NB, CPAWS-NB and the Nature Trust of NB for developing and sharing these questions. We’d like to thank all the candidates to took the time to answer the questions that we posed. The responses are listed in the appropriate riding in the order that they were received: 2020 Election Responses
Neil’s Flats is the site of our most ambitious restoration project yet, comprising more than 50 ha of floodplain nestled just outside the heart of Fredericton. Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, The NWAI has planted over 1500 red-tipped willows, red-osier dogwood and balsam poplar, and 800 silver maples. This could not have been achieved without the support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, WWF – Canada, and our partnership with ACAP Saint John.
Neil’s Flats is located within a provincially significant wetland and comprises 50.7 ha of floodplain area owned by The City of Fredericton. Approximately 70 % of this property is abandoned agricultural fields, with the remainder comprising fragmented silver maple floodplain forest. By restoring healthy floodplain forest community on Neil’s Flats we can achieve the objectives of mitigating and preventing riverbank erosion, flood mitigation and restoring floodplain forest structure and species composition. Silver maple floodplain forests are adept at absorbing large amounts of water and have the capacity to slow flooding and reduce flood levels. Furthermore, reforesting floodplains will help to moderate the temperature of the Nashwaak River by providing shade to the river, making it more resilient to our warming climate. The NWAI has committed to restoring this important forest community along the Nashwaak River, for the benefit of wildlife and local communities within the watershed.
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6 days ago