Work continues on a project to restore the salmon population in Nova Scotia's Cheticamp River. In this second year of the project, the focus is on Aucoin Brook, a tributary of the river.
Brush mats have been inserted throughout the brook to screen out sediment. The mats filter sediment from the water to improve spawning conditions.
Project manager Jillian Baker says four culverts that were impeding salmon spawning have been taken out.
"They were too small for the watercourse and they were also poorly placed. So the combination of being too small and they were up too high resulted in fish passage problems," she says.
"What this meant was that, especially at periods of low water, a good percentage of the fish who would be travelling upstream, trying to access upstream spawning and rearing habitat would be unable to get past the culverts."
Baker says usually salmon are fairly good at getting over and through barriers but the culverts were too much of a barrier, so they needed to come out.
She says already the water is clearer, but it’s too soon to say if the move has paid off with an increase in the salmon population.
'Digger logs' mimic natural conditions
According to the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation website, the culverts will be replaced with bridge a structure made from large cement blocks topped with wood beam surface.
Baker says this latest phase of the project will also involve work crews placing "digger logs" in the brook.
"These are structures designed to mimic what would happen if a log or a tree died naturally, fell into the brook and eventually became lodged into place," she says.
"With the water flowing over the log, it would create, over time, a pool on the downstream side and cause gravel to build up on the upstream side, which is good spawning habitat upstream and then the pool is a nice place for fish to rest and hang out downstream."
She says they are really important for the diversity of habitat in the watercourse.
The ultimate goal, according to Baker, is to reverse any man-made damage to the brook while letting nature take its course.