The largest watershed in the Blue Mountain Watershed
The Beaver River is the largest subwatershed of the Blue Mountain Watershed. It contains diverse valley lands and Niagara Escarpment topography, providing a wide range of natural habitat for flora and fauna. The Beaver River attracts many visitors to the area to enjoy the natural heritage features and to gaze at Chinook salmon climbing the fish ladder adjacent to the Highway 26 bridge at Thornbury in the autumn. Fishermen line the bank below the dam and canoeists and kayakers ply the river’s upper reaches.
This watercourse flows north by northeast from Ceylon, through Eugenia, down the Beaver Valley through Kimberley, Heathcote and Clarksburg to a hydro dam, fish ladder and Nottawasaga Bay at Thornbury.
The Beaver River is a spawning ground for Rainbow Trout, Chinook Salmon and Brown Trout, among other species.
The Beaver River is an important watercourse in the area from the point of view of recreation. Canoeists and kayaker ply its length above the Thornbury dam and fishermen catch cold water game fish along its course. You can access the Beaver River at many points along its length, especially near the towns through which it flows.
The Beaver River is in decent health, but threatened with development/extraction concerns. The Blue Mountains Watershed Trust opposed the new Walker Aggregates Duntroon and MAQ quarries because of their strategic location at the headwaters of the Beaver River. The headwaters are located on the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and within the Provincially Significant Rob Roy Wetland complex. The largest known colony in North America of the American Hart’s Tongue Fern, a plant species of special concern resides within these two properties. There are butternut trees which are listed by the MNR as threatened; and bobolink, a threatened bird species, has been observed on the MAQ site.
There is also a danger of leachate contamination from a Town of Blue Mountains landfill. The landfill (an abandoned gravel pit) is within 60 metres of Indian Brook and within 120 metres of Beaver River. According to a recent report, the landfill did not meet its compliance certificate and at time of writing the Town of Blue Mountains is trying to truck leachate to the sewage plant.
In 1999, the Watershed Trust received grants totaling $200,000 for our “Beaver River Water Quality Improvement Project”. Under the direction of Mr. Ray Robertson, Manager of Grey Agricultural Services, the three-year project was completed in 2002. About 45 individual projects such as livestock exclusion fencing, livestock/machinery stream crossings, alternate livestock watering systems designed to keep livestock out of the watercourses, stream bank stabilization, buffer strips and fisheries rehabilitation were completed. The goal was improvement to the water quality in the Beaver River and its tributaries. Landowner contributions of materials, machinery and labour were essential to the success of the project. It was a great community effort.