New Brunswick

Anglers seek $450K to restore Quispamsis fishing spot

An angling group in the Kennebecasis Valley wants to restore a popular fishing hole that’s been filling up with sediment from erosion, saying salmon, bass and trout are at risk along with Stock Farm Road.

Crowley's Pool erosion poses risk to fish and nearby road, says Hammond River group

A current look at the state of erosion on the bank below Stock Farm Road and above Crowley's Pool. (Submitted by the Hammond River Angling Association)

An angling group in the Kennebecasis Valley wants to restore a popular fishing hole that's been filling up with sediment from erosion.

Aquatic species in Crowley's Pool are at risk, and so is a Quispamsis roadway, said Sarah Blenis, project co-ordinator with the Hammond River Angling Association.

That's a group with about 325 members that's been around since the late 1970s.

The idea for the group was actually spawned at Crowley's Pool in 1975, according to its website.

"Despite our community's love for this fishing pool, there has been an evident decline in fish abundance, and environmental quality here," reads a project description. "Erosion has become quite severe in this area, the banks are barren, and up to 7 m high in some areas."

Local anglers have been concerned about the area for a while now, said Blenis.

Sarah Blenis says her group would like to get a better idea what impact erosion has on native fish species. (Submitted by the Hammond River Angling Association)

"This is a really important pool for Atlantic salmon. We have American eel. There are striped bass, smallmouth bass, brook trout." 

"It's a beautiful deep pool. Unfortunately, the riverbank is starting to degrade, significantly putting a lot of sand, silt and clay into the pool." 

The more sediment deposited in the water, she said, the more the aquatic habitat for native species is altered.

Crowley's is one of the lower pools in the Hammond River watershed. The Hammond is a tributary of the Kennebecasis, which is a tributary of the St. John, or Wolastoq.

The angling association wants to find out how aquatic life is reacting to the erosion and  "just how this sand, silt and clay is entering the water and then moving down through the river."

The current state of the Hammond riverbank at Crowley's Pool (Submitted by Hammond River Angling Association)

"Is it staying right there or is it carrying on through the lower part of the Hammond River watershed?" asked Blenis. "And what kind of impact is that having on habitat below Crowley's pool as well?" 

The monitoring plan includes checking turbidity, placing sediment collection tubes in the river and looking at the "bed load," or dirt that settles on the bottom.

Drivers are worried about the erosion, too, said Blenis.

Any resident can see the steep dropoff near the road, she said. When people drive by they wonder, "Is this the day it'll fall into the river?"

Gary Losier, the town's director of engineering, said there is no immediate concern about the stability of Stock Farm Road, but nearby bank erosion has been "creeping steadily" in the bast 25 years.

Quispamsis council has given its unanimous support for the project, noted Blenis.

It "marries well" with the town's long-term plans, said Losier.

Quispamsis has yet to commit funding, but that may be considered next year, said Blenis.

In 2016, the Hammond River Angling Association received funding to conduct a hydrological site assessment. It "resulted in a deeper understanding of the mechanisms driving erosion and infilling," according to the group's website. 

A close-up of exposed riverbank taken prior to a 2016 hydrological study. The barren section is now about seven metres high. (Submitted by the Hammond River Angling Association)

One of the "key factors" causing erosion, said Blenis, is probably climate change.

"An increase in severe flooding and heavy rainfall events is really taking a toll on the stability of the riverbank."

Design work for bank restoration was done as part of the 2016 project, but funding has not been secured to complete the work.

The group is now proposing a four-year project to both set up the monitoring program and restore the pool.

It's still in the planning phase, said Blenis. So far, the estimated cost of the restoration component alone is $450,000.

"We're looking at more of a nature-based solution. We want to use geotextiles and do a lot of planting. This may incorporate some riprap, which is basically rocks, and realigning the channel. A lot of different techniques will be discussed."

The proposal was submitted to Canada's Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk on Thursday.

Blenis expects to find out whether it's been approved in January or February.

If this funding application is unsuccessful, she said, the group will tweak the proposal and keep trying to get something done before the road is at serious risk. 

"I would say within the next five to 10 years, this should really be a priority," she said.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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