Since 1979, The St. Mary's River Association has worked with several agencies and groups toward our vision, which is “Health for the St. Mary’s River, the Atlantic salmon and our community”. Here’s some of our principal projects:
Drone Video - West River St. Mary's Habitat Restoration 2016
Riverside Data Loggers 2016
We have two data loggers, one on the East River St. Mary's & one on the West Branch. They provide real-time & historical data from monitoring of rainfall, river pH, water level, & water temperature at these sites. This gives us valuable ecosystem health information and a baseline to assess future trends. Anyone interested can access the loggers online, but please have patience, knowing that they are being deployed in May, 2016, and there may be technical issues that we must deal with until we gain experience.
The link is: SMRA Data Loggers
Kelt Reconditioning 2014-Present
Kelt captured by angling from the St. Mary's River by project volunteers are being reconditioned at DFO's Coldbrook hatchery for river stocking. The video below shows some very healthy St. Mary's River kelts in a holding tank waiting for the truck that took them to the DFO hatchery. In spring 2016,
55 kelts were collected.
SMRA Kelt video (Gweneth Boutilier, Ralph Jack) 2016
St. Mary's River Slideshow 2016
West Branch Habitat Restoration (MacInnis) 2015
West Branch Habitat Restoration (MacInnis) 2014
Problem Culverts (2013 - present)
Improperly designed culverts can unnecessarily limit the watershed area available to fish. Tributaries provide cool comfort and important spawning areas for adults & protection for young fish to feed & grow. SMRA volunteers built & installed structures that enable fish passage to tributaries where culverts had previously been barriers.
Barrier free access for handicapped anglers to fish the St. Mary's River (1997-present)
Development & maintenance of access to allow wheelchair-bound or other handicapped anglers the opportunity to fish the St. Mary’s River.
Development of Watershed Project (2005-present)
Following up on management plans from 1988 and 1995, the Association has been working to update these plans and develop the infrastructure and funding to implement them.
Land acquisition (2007- present)
The St. Mary's River Association works with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust & Nova Scotia Government to acquire land along the river channel for long-term protection and management.
Habitat restoration (1989-present)
Riverbank stabilization of eroding banks has been conducted at various sites throughout the watershed for almost 30 years. This work has involved placement of large rock material using heavy machinery along stretches of eroding river-bank. Habitat restoration of smaller streams (particularly using digger logs) has been conducted since 1993 with increasing frequency.
Liming project (1998)
Approximately 50 tonnes of limestone cobble were deposited at two location within the St. Mary's River in order to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of liming the river to increase the low pH of the stream water
Abundance and ecology of wood turtles within the St. Mary's River watershed (2003-2007)
Participating with Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and St. Francis Xavier University, the St. Mary's River Association assisted in a five year study of the wood turtle, a provincial species-at-risk, within the watershed. This research was aimed at determining the population size of the turtles within the watershed and to determine basic ecology and behaviour of the local population.
River Specific Atlantic Salmon Management Plan (1985-1994)
In 1985 the St. Mary's River Association proposed a river-specific Atlantic salmon management project as a pilot study for a river-specific approach to salmon management in Atlantic Canada. Such a management document was produced in 1988. The objective of this management plan was to "optimize Atlantic salmon from all segments of the St. Mary's River in order to provide all user groups with maximum benefits."
This program required research and monitoring to obtain the information to meet the objective, but the principle funding source was removed in 1994 and the project changed to become a community-based management plan renamed as the St. Mary's River Resource Management Model. This plan built on the objectives and information derived from the previous River Specific Atlantic Salmon Management Plan from 1988. The objective of the St. Mary's River Resource Management Model was "to develop a management plan for the St. Mary's River to achieve the maximum sustainable benefit from the fisheries resource, based upon information that is specific to the river, and upon a system of decision-making that is shared between members of the local community, user groups and government agencies".
Within this project the St. Mary's River Association collaborated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, often carrying the costs, to conduct research and monitoring on Atlantic salmon of the river, in the context of river-specific management. The results of this 1985-1995 river management work was a management strategy, detailed fisheries management plan, and a blueprint for community-based management plan.
St. Mary's River Forestry/Wildlife Project (1984-1992)
This was a joint initiative of federal and provincial governments, Stora Forest Industries, Scott Maritimes Ltd., Canadian Institute of Forestry, and St. Mary's River Association. The objective of this project was to develop methods to manage forestry and wildlife together. Participating groups conducted joint studies and operational trials to develop practical and effective guidelines and procedures to be used in the planning and operations of forest management.
Salmon enhancement (1989)
Members of the St. Mary's River Associated collected broodstock and participated in juvenile releases into the river of hatchery raised salmon.
Dependency Survey (1988)
Hurley Fisheries Consulting was retained by St. Mary's River Association to conduct a survey of the uses by people of the St. Mary's River. The study was intended as an examination of the socio-economic relationships of residents and visitors to the river. The results provided baseline data for the development of a river-specific management plan for salmon stocks and so was part of the above River Specific Atlantic Salmon Management Plan.
Salmon enhancement (1981-1982)
A streamside incubator and semi-natural rearing pond was used to enhance the survival of juvenile Atlantic salmon from the egg to parr stage. Approximately 50,000 eggs were incubated and juveniles reared and later release. As part of this program, the St. Mary's River Association collaborated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to enforce fishery regulations and surveillance for poachers.
In addition to these projects, the St. Mary's River Association has worked since their inception with federal and provincial fisheries agencies on management issues and required data collection for appropriate management. Management issues include determining annual fisheries regulations and required assessment research to determine conservation and allocation requirements. As part of the required data collection the Association has always been a principal player in the sampling of juvenile, smolt, and adult Atlantic salmon within the St. Mary's River.
Smolt Wheel 2016
DFO & SMRA volunteers installed a Smolt wheel at Glenelg Bridge, West River St. Mary's in April, 2016. We hope to capture & save about 300 smolts for live gene banking. These smolts will be raised to adults, then spawned & put back in the river, or released just prior to naturally spawning, depending on conditions. Click here to see wheel in operation: Smolt Wheel 2016
Riverbank tree planting volunteers - 2016
Riverside Data Logger May, 2016
Top - Scott Beaver transfers a St. Mary's salmon kelt to a holding tank in 2016.
Bottom - Allan MacDonald & Sandy Barnhill working on the kelt project.
MacKeen's Brook Pool, SMRA's barrier-free access for handicapped anglers. Featuring a gravelled access road & parking area, 2 concrete casting pads that can accommodate wheelchair anglers, and a wonderful view & feel of the gorgeous East River St. Mary's.
Top photo shows the completed Barren Brook, an important tributary of the West River St. Mary's, bank stabilization project in 2001. Bottom photo shows volunteer project leader Jack Duffy & grandchildren Patrick & Jolie. This 2004 project at the Cutbank pool on the East River St. Mary's stabilized 600' of riverbank with 160 truckloads of large rock at a cost of $19,927.00. Other SMRA project volunteers were Don Barnes & Paul d'Entremont.
SMRA volunteers built and installed this structure to facilitate fish passage to an important tributary of the St. Mary's River. Improperly designed culverts such as this one can unnecessarily limit the watershed area available to fish. Tributaries provide cool comfort and important spawning areas for adults & protection for young fish to feed & grow.
SMRA volunteers use a smolt wheel to assess the salmon smolt run below Silver's Bridge in spring 2002. Smolt were captured, marked, and released at an upstream location (mark-recapture), enabling a DFO biologist to estimate total smolt numbers.