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St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area

Map of the St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area. See text that follows.
St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area

The St. Lawrence Lowlands priority area in Quebec is a 29,000 km2 stretch of land that lies along the border of the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Fourteen aquatic species at risk (Thirteen fish species and one mollusc species) are found in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, which include the Ottawa River, Chateauguay River, Assomption River, Richelieu River and the rivers flowing into Lake Saint-Pierre.

The main threats to species at risk in the St. Lawrence Lowlands are: pollution from agricultural and municipal sources, habitat modification and disturbance, barriers to fish passage and the introduction of invasive species. The Department of Fisheries Ocean’s (DFO) Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) is supporting two projects to address these threats to aquatic species at risk in this priority area.

Conservation actions currently underway

Pollution, shoreline erosion, watercourse alteration and the presence of invasive species has resulted in the degradation and modification of important aquatic habitat for species at risk in the St. Lawrence Lowlands priority area. To address these issues, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has initiated a project throughout the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries to restore aquatic habitat. Specific restoration efforts include stabilizing eroding shorelines, characterizing and enhancing riparian habitats, restoring watercourses and controlling the spread of invasive aquatic plant species. This project is also helping to raise awareness among users of these water bodies to allow them to recognize and contribute to the protection of important habitat for aquatic species at risk.

To mitigate the threat of reduced water quality within this priority area, the Fédération de l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) de la Montérégie is conducting a project to encourage agricultural producers in the Huron River watershed to adopt agri-environmental practices to improve water quality and enhance the aquatic habitat in the Richelieu and Huron rivers. This project is helping minimize the runoff of agricultural pollutants through the promotion of best practices, such as the use of cover crops, rainwater management, the revegetation of riparian buffers and shoreline stabilization. Other project activities are focused on building and sharing knowledge of the watershed to encourage the adoption and improvement of best practices by producers.

Through the CNFASAR, DFO is enabling the stewardship actions of partners to protect aquatic species at risk in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. The projects underway here are mitigating threats to aquatic species at risk by restoring aquatic habitats in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries, promoting best practices for managing riparian areas and raising awareness of species at risk among relevant stakeholders (farmers, municipalities and the public). By reducing the impacts of threats, these projects are preserving the habitats for species at risk and many other freshwater species in the St. Lawrence Lowlands priority area.

Learn more about projects in this area

Restoration of aquatic and riparian habitats in the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Saint Pierre and its main tributaries on the south shore

Restoration of aquatic and riparian habitats in the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Saint Pierre and its main tributaries on the south shore

Recipient: Nature Conservancy of Canada

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Characterization of common reed in the 0–2 year flood zone on the islands in the St. Lawrence River
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Characterization of aquatic grass beds surrounding the islands in the St. Lawrence River

Project goal:This four-year project is intended to enhance the habitat of aquatic species at risk in the St. Lawrence Lowlands Priority Area, in particular around the islands in the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Saint-Sulpice, in Lake Saint-Pierre and in the watersheds of the six main tributaries on the south shore of the St. Lawrence: the Châteauguay, Acadie, Richelieu, Yamaska and Saint-François Rivers and the Rivière du Sud.

The purpose of this project is to address threats considered a priority by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners, i.e. eroding shorelines, shoreline alteration, degradation of riparian habitats and invasive species. To this end, six major activities will be carried out in the different water bodies targeted: 1) characterization of the composition and extent of aquatic grass beds; 2) control of invasive alien species; 3) stabilization of eroding shorelines and restoration of aquatic habitats; 4) characterization and restoration of riparian habitats and implementation of agri-environmental practices in the farming areas located in the subwatersheds targeted; 5) restoration of canals and watercourses; and 6) raising awareness among users of these water bodies so that they can recognize and assist in protecting the habitat of target species at risk.

In the long term, the benefits of these measures will strengthen the impact of interventions on improving water quality and enhancing the habitat of target species.

Fund Allocation:

$1,465,226

Time Frame:

4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Adoption of agri-environmental practices by farmers in the Rivière des Hurons watershed to improve water quality and enhance riparian habitats of at risk fish species in the Richelieu River

Adoption of agri environmental practices by farmers in the Rivière des Hurons watershed to improve water quality and enhance riparian habitats of at risk fish species in the Richelieu River

Recipient: Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie

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Multi-layered windbreak (trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants) and shoreline stabilization with a willow fence in a watercourse in the Rivière des Hurons basin
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Planting of trees and shrubs in part of an abandoned field along the Rivière des Hurons

Project goal: The goal of this four-year project is to encourage producers in the Rivière des Hurons watershed to adopt agri-environmental practices to improve water quality and enhance the aquatic habitat of five fish species at risk in the Richelieu River and Rivière des Hurons. These practices are aimed at reducing runoff of agricultural pollutants (e.g. sediments and pesticides) into waterways throughthe use of cover crops in crop rotation management, proper management of rainwater using agricultural water management structures, revegetation of riparian buffers and stabilization of severely eroded shorelines. Other project activities will focus on building knowledge of the watershed’s hydromorphology as well as on the sharing and transfer of knowledge to facilitate the adoption and improvement of agricultural practices by producers within the watershed.

To accomplish this, the Fédération is working in collaboration with producers and various agricultural, municipal and environmental partners in the Rivière des Hurons watershed.

Fund Allocation:

$707,015

Time Frame:

4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

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