Hamilton Harbour Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project
Wednesday December 28 2011
As Site Coordinator the next post will be a year in review at Elements Photoblog.
I wish everyone a great New Year with the Optimism we need to keeps Nature reviving.
Many new images of people, places and a few older images.
All the best
In 1997 the operation of a carp barrier/fishway began at the Cootes Paradise marsh, blocking the passage of carp into the marsh during spawning season but allowing the migration of all other spawning fish. As a result, aquatic vegetation has made a dramatic recovery throughout Cootes Paradise and the harbour. Fisheries monitoring has indicated a positive change in the composition of the fish community, including an increase in numbers of top predators and in species diversity. Recently, over 200 spawning pike were counted at the Cootes Paradise fishway. Prior to restoration, only 19 pike were recorded at the fishway. Similarly, waterfowl numbers in Cootes Paradise have increased dramatically due to the increased distribution and abundance of aquatic plants. Birds have been staying longer in the marsh and gaining strength for their migratory flight south.
The Grindstone Creek pike spawning marsh has been a 20-year restoration effort. The Grindstone Trail, connecting Cherry Hill Gate to Sunfish Pond is open to the public and provides educational interpretation and protects the flood plain by directing the large number of visitors to the boardwalk. Tours are open to groups and can be arranged by contacting Royal Botanical Gardens.
To date, habitat restoration efforts and improvements to public access have laid a strong foundation for continuing enhancement. Research and monitoring provide essential feedback for the design and construction of the next phases of habitat and public access projects.
Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, McMaster and Brock Universities and the Royal Botanical Gardens are co-ordinating monitoring and research to advance fish and wildlife habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes. The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project in Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise proposes to create 372 ha of fish habitat, 299 ha of wildlife habitat, 16 km of shore habitat for fish and wildlife and 9 km of trails. Substantial progress has already been made:
- Shoreline rehabilitation and a new trail at Chedoke Creek
- Development of a carp barrier/fishway, aquatic plant nursery and breeding and nursery ponds for amphibians and reptiles in the Cootes Paradise marsh
- Pike spawning habitat, rehabilitated flood plain habitat and a new boardwalk at Grindstone Creek
- Restoration of the lower Grindstone Creek, employing recycled Christmas tree
- Shoreline naturalization and development of underwater reefs at Bayfront Park
- Shoreline naturalization, beach restoration, development of reefs and a new trail at LaSalle Park
- Shoreline naturalization, and the development of colonial nesting bird islands, underwater reefs, trail and lookout at the Northeastern Shoreline
- Sand dune rehabilitation and a new trail at Burlington Beach
Decline and Recovery of Cootes Paradise
Once nearly 100% covered by emergent and submergent
aquatic plants, the extent of marsh vegetation has declined to
85% cover in the 1930s, and to only 15% in 1985. A variety
of stresses were responsible for this decline. Human development
and farming in the watershed contaminated the marsh’s
tributary streams with sewage effluent, eroded soil, and chemical
runoff. Within the marsh, carp activity physically damaged
and destroyed the marsh plants. Carp activity and eroded soil
from the watershed also muddy the marsh water, limiting light
penetration and plant growth. Controlled lake water levels,
and the introduction of non-native plant species have also
disrupted marsh ecology. For the restoration of Cootes Paradise
to be successful, RBG and other partners in the HH-RAP
agreed that an effective carp control program and pollution
abatement programs in the watershed were necessary.
Doug Worrall Photographer