Touring the EcoPark, from left, Don Kerr, Wendy Smeh, both Watershed Trust representatives, Fred Dobbs of NVCA and Carl Michener, Watershed Trust board member.

Restoring Our Streams: A Land Stewardship Project in Clearview

By George Powell, WAG member

At the invitation of Fred Dobbs of Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, members of Watershed Trust visited a stream restoration project Dobbs is managing on Lamont Creek in Clearview Township. This EcoPark, an innovative public green space, is being restored as an environmental classroom. The Township had the foresight to purchase the property on the 27/28 Side Road off Hwy 26, just north of Stayner.

Historically the creek has been degraded by many years of over-grazing and land-clearing. White cedars at one time protected the stream bank from erosion and were replaced by crack willow, an undesirable and invasive species. This non-native fast growing tree has large branches that break off and fall off into the Creek. The branches collect and eventually cause blockages in the stream resulting in small stagnant pools. During low flows, silts and clays can settle out upstream of these blockages. The result is sediment deposits in the gravel spawning areas and increasing water temperatures, both detrimental to the native fishery.

The goal of the project is to improve stream habitat so it can support the native fishery such as suckers and naturalized migrating Rainbow Trout, reduce stream temperature and improve overall stream water quality. What we viewed was the construction of a floodplain comprising a series of shallow gravel beds in the stream called riffles. In these stretches the stream will be fast flowing and well aerated creating an ideal habitat for trout to spawn. As well, caddis flies and native mussels will be present all of which are desirable and point to a healthy and sustainable ecosystem.

The natural watercourse alignment has been maintained and the stream bank cut back and vegetated with native sod providing a floodplain shelf. At the interface of the stream and the shelf, fresh cut coniferous trees are anchored along the stream to help prevent streambank erosion. They will be left in place until native vegetation, 600 Woody and Sandbar willows and dogwood, is established. During wet weather periods when the creek can overflow, the floodplain shelf will help to reduce the intensity of the stream discharge. In the floodplain shelf, mini wetlands provide habitat for amphibians. At the interface of the floodplain shelf and the present ground level, over 1000 native trees (maple, cedar and hemlock) are being planted to provide further erosion protection of the watercourse. The result will be a natural, aesthetically pleasing appearance to the watercourse.

The cost of this stream restoration project is estimated at $90,000 not including the in-kind contribution of more than 100 Clearview student volunteers. When completed, there will be interpretive signage at several locations and several large ponds will be good for viewing water fowl.

There are many potential candidate streams in the Blue Mountain Watershed that could benefit from this method of erosion protection. In areas where land bordering along the stream can be made available it is a preferred approach. This is an area the Trust will be investigating further with our two local Conservation Authorities.