New Brunswick

Eroded riverbank along the Nashwaak gets a 'natural' shoring up

A stretch of land along the Nashwaak River that's been washing away with each spring flood is being restored by a conservation group. 

Nashwaak Watershed Association repairs a stretch so eroded an oak tree fell in water

A 40-metre stretch of eroded riverbank along the Nashwaak River is being restored this week in Penniac. (Gary Moore/CBC)

A stretch of land along the Nashwaak River that's been washing away with each spring flood is being restored by a conservation group. 

The Nashwaak Watershed Association began work this week on the 40 metres of riverbank at Nashwaak Valley Farm in Penniac, about 10 kilometres northeast of Fredericton.

Mike Sorenson owns the land and says ice jams and spring floods have taken a toll. 

"As the banks eroded, a big oak tree fell in the river," Sorenson said. 

Mike Sorenson owns Nashwaak Valley Farms in Penniac, says ice jams and floods have hurt the riverbank. (Gary Moore/CBC)

The fence line for the pasture could eventually wash away, he said, but his big concern is the fish habitat in the river. 

"The erosion puts sediment in the river and it's bad for the fish. So that's the biggest issue for me."

Jill Hudgins is leading the project with the watershed association. She's hoping the repairs will stop the erosion and prevent pollution from streaming into the water. 

Hudgins said the group is using a less traditional, more natural approach to fix the riverbank.

Instead of building a vertical rock wall, it's creating a slope on the bank, which will have trees and shrubs on the top, as well as a rock base. 

Jill Hudgins says this method of shoring up the riverbank will also help keep pollutants from washing into the river. (Gary Moore/CBC)

"It allows the native vegetation to take hold and provide habitat for animals and allows recruitment of other native vegetation as well."

Hudgins said it's a more natural-looking repair, and the trees and shrubs on top of the slope will help prevent pollution and erosion into the river.  

"So that vegetation is really important for holding the soil in place and also filtering the water before it enters the Nashwaak," Hudgins said. "And filtering out a lot of those pollutants that could harm fish and other aquatic life as well."

Hudgins hopes this approach will have the same success as it has had on other parts of the Nashwaak. 

In 2017, a similar method was used to repair part of the river in the Marysville area of Fredericton. Hudgins said those repairs have held up.

"It's totally blending in with the natural bank that was there on on either side."

"It's recruited a lot of other natural vegetation that we didn't plant — it's come there by seed or animals have brought it."

The project is funded publicly and privately funded and is expected to cost around $20,000.

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.

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