The month of September was beautiful with many warm days and just the crisp hint of fall in the air. After the Celebrate Our River Event on the last Saturday in August things begin to slow down a bit for WRIG; the field crew members have completed their summer work and classes have resumed. We are now looking forward to organizing fall education events and starting to brainstorm about next year’s projects. It’s never too early to begin planning, so let us know if you have any areas of concern in our waterways or if you would like native trees planted on your property next summer!
Once again, we were fortunate to have a fantastic field crew for the summer season. We were able to accomplish an incredible amount this year and hope that the fish have already experienced easier passage through the streams. WRIG starts the summer field season off with tree planting. All of the trees and shrubs that we plant are native to PEI and are provided by the Green Spaces Program through the province. We carefully consider each of our planting sites and generate a list of trees that have proper growing conditions that match the site with the ultimate hope of increased survival of the young trees. This year, the WRIG field crew planted approximately 1,000 trees at 11 different sites in the Wheatley River watershed and sub-watersheds. Many trees were also given away at community events-thank you to everyone who is dedicated to the planting and care of trees on our beautiful island!
In addition to tree planting, the WRIG summer field crew spends a lot of time in the streams. One of our priorities is to remove blockages that are impeding fish passage from the lower sections of the rivers to the headwaters. The headwaters, or furthest upstream reaches of the streams, are fed by groundwater springs and feature cold, fresh water. These areas are of critical importance to the health of the watershed as they are the starting point of our rivers. The cold water is also preferred by brook trout that need cooler water temperatures and rocky substrate for successful spawning. This year we were able to walk over 8km of stream which is a significant amount! In the sections walked, the field crew removed blockages, trimmed back low hanging alders, and placed brush mats to trap suspended sediment and help stabilize stream banks. While it is important to remove debris that obstructs the movement of fish, some woody cover is still needed in the streams to provide refuge for the animals in our waterways. This year, WRIG had a Riparian Health Assessment Technician as part of our team. We were able to conduct assessments along over 13km of stream which will be used to guide future work. The field crew supervisor’s report and the riparian health assessment report will be posted on our website later this fall for anyone interested in reading more details about the 2016 summer field season.
Our Celebrate Our River Event and River Duck Race on August 27th was a great success! We had an excellent turnout and are incredibly grateful for the support of our community. We had a BBQ with informational displays presented by our staff followed by the River Duck Race. The Race this year was quite exciting as the wind and the tides were working against the ducks. Many thanks go out to Emma Spence and Hailey Blacquiere, WRIG staff members, for their dedication to ensuring that the ducks would reach the finish line. They ended up swimming down the river behind the ducks, reaching the finish line to the sound of bagpipes and an excited crowd on the bridge cheering them on! Congratulations to this year’s winners: Audrey Gallant, Charlie McPhee, and Cindy Blacquiere! Thank you to everyone who came out and attended the event and a special thank you to our hard working volunteers who made this year’s event special.