Success Stories

Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program

British Columbia

McDonald Creek empties into Burrard Inlet in a populated area along the West Vancouver seawall and walkway. The creek predominantly provides important habitat for Coho and Chum salmon, although limited numbers of Pink also utilize the creek. Over time, the estuary had degraded to a braided shoreline with no defined channel. Salmonid access was limited to high tide and high water conditions, which delayed fish migration to upstream spawning grounds and often subjected salmon to increased predation by local seal populations.

With funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society developed a plan to improve passage between the tidal estuary and the creek over a broader range of tides. The creek outlet channel was completely re-built to provide improved fish access and to withstand ocean influences, particularly winter storm surges. Boulder features were strategically added to enhance habitat for returning adults and migrating smolts, and riparian planting has increased opportunities for leaf litter and insect drop.

Since project completion, it is reported that there has been a significant increase in estuarine productivity, with nearly 100% colonization of available rock features with barnacles, rockweed and other estuarine organisms. Partners in this project included the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Coho Society of the North Shore, TD Friends of the Environment Fund, British Pacific Properties, Fortis BC, Seaspan, CN rail and West Vancouver Community Foundation.

Pre-construction: braided shoreline and undefined channel

Pre-construction: braided shoreline and undefined channel

Post-construction: sloped and defined creek with instream complexing

Post-construction: sloped and defined creek with instream complexing

 
Aerial view of McDonald Creek Estuary

Aerial view of McDonald Creek Estuary

Signage provides public awareness and brings an educational element to the West Vancouver seawall

West Vancouver seawall

Photo credit: Scott Christie

British Columbia

The Nicola River is the largest tributary to the Thompson River downstream of Kamloops Lake. It is a major spawning tributary for chinook, coho and steelhead trout; however, pink, kokanee and rainbow trout also spawn in the area. As the Nicola River flows predominantly through agricultural and range land, it experiences significant land use pressures, which has led to habitat degradation in many areas. A main concern is an increase in sediment deposition, which can cause reductions in critical spawning habitat, decreased water quality and decreased visibility for feeding. With funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the British Columbia Conservation Foundation set out to reduce sediment deposition by stabilizing eroding banks on the Nicola River, adjacent to Merritt, BC. Spawning and rearing habitat was also improved by adding in-stream features made of rock and wood debris, which created cover and opportunities to feed for fish. Since project completion, habitat quality has remarkably improved and sediment deposition has been substantially reduced. Partners that helped to achieve these results include the Steelhead Society of British Columbia, the River Ranch of Merritt, BC and the Kingfishers Angling Club.

 
 
Site 1 before restoration

Site 1 before restoration

Site 1 post-construction: Rock, woody debris and riparian planting have been used to stabilize the stream bank.

Site 1 post-construction

Source: Wallis Environmental Aquatics Ltd.

British Columbia

Moody’s Slough is a side channel of the Cheakamus River that has combined ground water and river flows and provides important habitat for numerous salmonids, including Coho salmon. It is a complex slough system with several “blind” off-shoot channels. With funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the Squamish River Watershed Society re-connected several channels through channel excavation, culvert installation, weir construction and diversions so that flows were re-established. These channels now provide important over-wintering, spawning, and rearing habitat for Coho salmon and other salmonids. It is expected that 10,000 to 20,000 Coho fry will benefit year round from these changes. The high-quality refuge habitat will be especially important in summer.

Before: dried-up channel

Before: dried-up channel

After: restored flow and salmonid habitat

After: restored flow and salmonid habitat
After: restored flow and salmonid habitat

Photo credit: Edith Tobe

Alberta

Bow Valley, located near Calgary, Alberta, contains a series of cold, mountain-fed rivers that support many sought-after recreational fish such as Rainbow and Brown Trout. However, the absence of riparian vegetation along these banks has led to increased water temperatures and a reduction in water quality. The Bow Valley Habitat Development (BVHD) has been working to increase fish productivity of the Bow Valley for almost 30 years. With funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the BVHD planted 14,600 native plants along 13.8 kilometres of stream bank in 2015. This brings the total to over 24,000 native species planted on 25 kilometers of stream bank. Water temperature and water quality will both improve over time as the native plants re-establish themselves along the banks, enhancing the habitat for trout and other recreational fish species. The BVHD continues to bring together many like-minded partners including volunteers from local businesses, schools and recreational groups to continue the restoration of recreational fish habitat through various projects. 

Before: Pre-planting

Pre-planting

After: Riparian planting (1-year old willows)

Riparian planting (1-year old willows)

Photo credit: Guy Woods

Manitoba

Beaver Lake, located within Duck Mountain Provincial Park, has been managed for its recreational fishing potential by Swan Valley Sport Fishery Enhancement Inc. (SVSFE) since the late 1980s. One of the limiting factors in the lake’s recreational fisheries potential was inadequate amounts of spawning habitat for recently transferred juvenile and adult walleye. SVSFE developed and implemented the installation of walleye’s preferred habitat by creating spawning shoals of rocky substrate in Beaver Lake. In the winter of 2014, a team of volunteers installed over 400 cubic yards of rocky material creating 1,050 square metres of spawning habitat. SVSFE continues to monitor recruitment with small but positive increments of success. As the walleye population matures, fish utilizing the spawning shoals should increase, and in turn, should provide a sustainable walleye fishery for anglers to enjoy. SVSFE partnered with Manitoba Conservation Water Stewardship and Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program to complete this project.

Before: Limited spawning habitat

Before: Limited spawning habitat

After: Spawning shoal and walleye

After: Spawning shoal and walleye
After: Spawning shoal and walleye

Photo credit: Holly Urban

Ontario

The Jock River is a popular recreational destination near Ottawa.  The Jock River Embayment Project, managed by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) aimed to increase the amount of spawning, nursery, rearing and feeding habitat for the various recreational fish species that can be found in the Jock River.  A small grassland area was reclaimed as an embayment along the Jock River.  In addition to creating over 1,000 square metres of fish habitat, the project also resulted in the creation of wetland habitat that will provide food and shelter for fish and other aquatic life.  Construction was completed in October 2014 and sampling in summer 2015 revealed that recreational fish species such as Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike are already making use of this new fish habitat!  The RVCA accomplished this task with the help of Muskies Canada, the National Defense Fish and Game Club, Ottawa Fly Fisher Society and funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.

Before: Prior to creation of fish habitat

Before: Prior to creation of fish habitat

After: Embayment

After: Embayment

Photo credit: Jennifer Lamoureux

Ontario

With funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, a fish bypass channel was constructed by Valleys 2000 Incorporated on the Bowmanville Creek to help preserve and restore the recreational fishery in Southern and Central Lake Ontario. Approximately 31 fish species are known to live, spawn and migrate along the Bowmanville and Soper Creek watersheds, including Atlantic and Chinook Salmon, which have been reintroduced into the area in the past decade. Before the bypass channel was built, an old industrial dam had been a major barrier to these species attempting to swim to spawning grounds – now they are able to traverse around the dam.

Before: Manual salmon transfers Before: Manual salmon transfers

After: Salmon entering bypass channelAfter: Salmon entering bypass channel

Before: Manual salmon transfers

After: Salmon entering bypass channel

Before: Manual salmon transfers

After: Salmon entering bypass channel

Before: Manual salmon transfers

After: Salmon entering bypass channel

Photo credits: Charles Hastings (“before” photos); Hillary Prince (“after” photos)

Quebec

The Osgood River used to be known as an excellent river for salmonids. Watercourse changes, however, led to a decrease in the quality and diversity of Brook Trout habitats. The Groupe de concertation des bassins versants de la zone Bécancour (GROBEC) consequently undertook restoration projects to create thresholds, pools, as well as single and double deflectors in order to diversify Brook Trout habitat, curb bank erosion and create more diverse water flow patterns.

Before and during restoration work

After restoration work

Before and during restoration work

Source : GROBEC

Before and during restoration work
After restoration work

Source : Municipality of Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds

Quebec

In the summer of 2013, the Réserve Faunique Rouge-Matawin (Société des établissements de plein air du Québec) started work to develop habitat for Brook Trout in eight of its watercourses. The project, supported by the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, was completed over two years. The work performed from 2013 to 2015 considerably increased the quality of breeding habitat available to Brook Trout. Fish passage was also restored in the streams between certain bodies of water, where several sites with natural potential were previously inaccessible.

Before: Lac des Jésuites before the
watercourse
Before: Lac des Jésuites before the watercourse cleanup

After: Stream cleanup, construction of spawning grounds and a wood weirAfter: Stream cleanup, construction of spawning grounds and a wood weir

Before: Lac Higginson outlet before habitat development Before: Lac Higginson outlet before habitat development

After: Outlet after fish channel construction
  After: Outlet after fish channel construction

Photo credit: François Lamothe

New Brunswick

A section of MacDonald Brook, in the Canaan River watershed, was at one time dammed to create a head pond and an access road for a saw mill operation. With no continual upkeep after the mill closed, the dam eventually failed; debris and the culverts that controlled the flow through the dam ended up strewn in the channel interfering with fish passage. The final resting location of the debris and culverts also directed the flow of the brook towards the west bank, which then eroded and became highly unstable, leading to increased sediment loads in the brook. As the brook is an important refuge and rearing habitat for Brook Trout and Atlantic Salmon, Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program funding was used by the Canaan River Fish and Game Association to help reconstruct the banks, creating a more stable slope and a floodplain along the east bank, and to remove the debris and culverts from the channel. The project is expected to significantly improve fish migration and spawning.

Before: unstable bankBefore: unstable bank

Photo credit: Ron Jenkins
Source: Parish Geomorphic

After: bank stabilized with erosion control blanketsAfter: bank stabilized with erosion control blankets

Photo credit: Chris Thomson
Source: Maritime Hydroseed

Nova Scotia

The St. Mary's River Association implemented a restoration project that focused on the area impacted by both past and present land use (farming and forestry) which has caused the river to become wide and shallow in many places, reducing migration and spawning for Atlantic salmon and sea-run trout. These deteriorated conditions create excessive ice production, contributing to further widening of the channel downstream. In the summertime, water temperatures rise to levels not suitable for fish survival. Restoration work included the installation of rock sills, deflectors, groynes, channel blockers and bank rocking. Thanks in part to funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, positive results are already being seen since the commencement of work in 2014, with the channel beginning to narrow and deepen, cool water pools being formed and increased spawning at restoration sites.

Before installation of a rock sill

Before installation of a rock  sill

Photo credit: Andrea Flynn

After installation of a rock sill

After installation of a rock  sill

Photo credit: Charles MacInnis

After restoration work

Photo credit: Nicholas MacInnis

Nova Scotia

Thanks in part to Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships funding, the Clean Foundation (formerly Clean Nova Scotia) restored 602 square metres of fish habitat in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia area watersheds in 2013. These watersheds, which are home to a variety of fish species such as brook trout and gaspereaux, have been badly affected by urban growth and debris blockages. Many watercourses have been artificially altered, making streams straighter, wider and shallower. As a result, the natural meander of the streams, which creates critical diverse habitat such as cold, deep pools and shallow, fast moving riffles, was lost. These varied habitats play an essential role in fish spawning and development. As part of Clean Foundation’s work, a variety of in-stream structures in Ellenvale Run were installed to help improve the stream’s habitat. Two of these structures, a digger-log and deflector, are shown below. The water’s surface clearly shows the benefits of these in-stream structures in creating diverse water flow patterns.

in-stream structures in Ellenvale Run

Source: Clean Foundation

Newfoundland and Labrador

In the early-1900s, dams were created on sections of the Exploits River watershed to facilitate log driving by the pulp and paper industry. These water control practices stopped in the 1950s, but many of the structures remain. These dams and structures deteriorated over time, creating obstructions to fish migration and causing debris to accumulate which impacted fish habitat. In 2013, with funding from the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, the Environmental Resources Management Association, based in Grand Falls-Windsor, removed obstructions and debris at 12 sites. Now, salmonids are able to freely migrate upstream and downstream and natural riverine habitat, for spawning and rearing, has been restored.

Before: obstructions near Grand Falls-WindsorBefore: obstructions near Grand Falls-Windsor

After: restored flow and salmonid habitatAfter: restored flow and salmonid habitat

Obstructed waterwayPhoto credit: Environmental Resources Management Association
Restored waterway