Manitoulin Streams ramps up for 2016 restoration work

MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Streams is getting ready for another great season of helping rehabilitate and enhance water streams and creating healthy and self-sustaining river ecosystems.

Sites on the Mindemoya River, M’Chigeeng Creek and Blue Jay Creek and Manitou River are all on the docket.

“All these projects are dependent upon funding approval, which we should hear about shortly,” explained Manitoulin Streams Coordinator Seija Deschenes.

One of the projects is part of the Mindemoya Enhancement Strategy, sites MIN 624 and MIN 680, two of 144 locations along the Mindemoya River in need of restoration.

“Environmental issues at site MIN 624 and MIN 680, as well as M13 (another project scheduled for this year as part of the Blue Jay Creek and Manitou River Enhancement Strategy (1 of 71 sites in need of restoration on the Manitou River) and the M’Chigeeng Creek include bank erosion, sedimentation occurring over spawning habitat, lack of in-stream habitat, lack of riparian vegetation and canopy, dams that affect water flow fluctuations and log jams that block fish passage to critical habitat,” said Ms. Deschenes. “These cumulative impacts affect critical spawning and aquatic habitat that bring both socio-economic benefits to the area. Recommendations include improving riparian vegetation and canopy, preventing and restoring bank erosion, improving in-stream habitat, improving edge habitat.”

Ms. Deschenes explained that the stream restoration on these sites will protect stream habitat and safeguard Manitoulin’s aquatic ecosystems from erosion reducing the amount of sedimentation from occurring over prime spawning habitat.

“By improving the fish and aquatic habitat—channel edges, channel centre, improving available river bottom substrate—it will reduce the effects of low water levels and reduce water temperatures from getting higher in the summer thereby enhancing the overall quality and productivity of this river’s aquatic habitats over the long term,” continued Ms. Deschenes. “Bio-engineering techniques that may be used will include stabilizing the top of stream banks with boulders, root wads, soil and bio-degradable coconut coir matting to prevent erosion, and installing enhanced in-stream habitat such as boulders clusters and islands, creating pool and riffle areas, placement of spawning gravel, sweepers, wing deflectors, vortex weirs, submerged semi half-logs. Increasing riparian habitat will help to protect and provide habitat for species at risk.  Also, it will increase biodiversity of fish species in all areas supporting biodiversity conservation.”

“Manitoulin Streams plans on encouraging community stewardship activities by conducting stream cleanups and removal of log jams as well as native tree and shrub planting along this reach of the river with the Ontario Stewardship Rangers and volunteers,” she added. “Work along M’Chigeeng Creek will take place in partnership with Lakeview Public School.”

Also scheduled for this year is site MIN 620 on the Mindemoya River. It is unique because it was an old dam site with some of the dam structure is still there. Also work will be done on MIN 622.

“This site has been identified as a high priority site for restoration because the river section has a large rising limestone barrier that is a natural land-based feature which causes problems with fish passage when there is low water flow during the spawning season,” said Ms. Deschenes. “At this site, we will need to reduce the stream width and increase the stream depth by creating four pools in a fish ladder extending 21 linear meters long to improve continuity to the upper reaches and improve in-stream habitat along the site.”

“MIN 620 will have one boulder cluster and spawning gravel installed,” Ms. Deschenes explained. “The total restoration of site MIN 620 is 50 linear meters of stream and it will improve in-stream habitat as well. Also riparian habitat will be restored by volunteers helping plant native trees and shrubs.”

The downstream site on the Mindemoya River, MIN 622, will be rehabilitated by re-grading the banks and installing seven root wads and coconut coir matting to prevent erosion and installing vegetated riverstone and native trees and shrubs in the riparian area. 

“There will also be one boulder cluster installed and spawning gravel,” said Ms. Deschenes. “Restoration of site MIN 622 will restore 10 linear meters of stream and improve in-stream habitat.”

Ms. Deschenes said Manitoulin Steams is also hoping to do some stream cleanups and tree planning in Wikwemikong, but that the partnership is still in early stages.

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