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Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Lowbanks Drain Restoration Strategy Lowbanks Drain subwatershed is primarily drained by municipal drains. Chalmers Dickout Drain and H.E. Dickout Drain are designated as Class F Drains, Furry Drain is designated as a Class D Drain, and both Little Marsh Drain and Boulton Ditch Drain are designated Class E Drains. None of the watercourses in this subwatershed have been evaluated in terms of importance for fish habitat. Eight sites were assessed in this subwatershed as part of the NPCA Geomorphic Assessment. Seven of these sites were within municipal drains. Bank instability and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed was noted at a number of field sites. BioMAP samples in this subwatershed indicate water quality is impaired. Primary causes of impairment at the Lake Erie BioMAP stations include sediment loading, reduced baseflow, lack of in-stream habitat and nutrient enrichment (NPCA 2010). Water quality sampling indicates marginal water quality with exceedances of total phosphorus, E. coli and suspended solids. This site is vulnerable to low base flow and water stagnation with severe algae growth identified during the summer months (NPCA 2010). Soil erosion, the use of fertilizers and pesticides coupled with the lack of sufficient riparian buffers are likely sources of total phosphorus in this watershed. Potential sources of E. coli include runoff from urban and agricultural land use, animal waste, and sewage discharge. Promotion of the NPCA‟s education programs pertaining to agricultural best management practices and water quality would be beneficial for the landowners. These programs also include information on sources of funding for environmental projects on private land to encourage adoption and implementation of best management practices Land use in the subwatershed is primarily agriculture with some strip and node residential throughout the subwatershed and along the lakeshore. Before draining into Lake Erie, Lowbanks Drain and its tributaries flow through several agricultural fields and natural areas including, Moulton Wetland West PSW, and Bunz Bush. Several Species at Risk have been identified in the Lowbanks Drain subwatershed, including the endangered kidneyshell, round pigtoe, and snuffbox mussels, and the threatened blanding‟s turtle. In addition, numerous provincially rare species have been identified by the NPCA and the MNR. The challenge of the Lowbanks Drain subwatershed is the establishment of a sufficient vegetative riparian buffer which is imperative in assisting with the protection and enhancement of water quality, as well as providing a corridor and shelter that will facilitate in wildlife movement along the watercourse between natural areas. The fragmented pattern of the natural areas in this subwatershed offers ample opportunity for the establishment of corridor connections and enhancement of existing natural areas including Moulton Wetland West, a large core area. In areas where natural areas are narrow and irregular it is important to enhance these areas reducing the amount of forest edge and increasing the interior resulting in an increased ability to support a larger diversity of flora and fauna. The Lowbanks Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy identifies three zones with specific stewardship and restoration recommendations (Table 10 and Figure 21). 128

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Table 10: Lowbanks Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy Restoration Opportunities Recommended Restoration Strategies Riparian Wetland Upland and Ecological Linkages 1. Headwaters region: H.E. Dickout Drain & Chalmers Dickout Drain 2. Furry Drain, northern tributary and Little Marsh Drain priority should be placed on establishing riparian habitat; the headwaters run through agricultural lands with little to no buffer. riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and cool the water to enhance water quality and fish habitat as well create corridors that will connect fragmented natural areas providing cover for wildlife watercourses are managed as municipal drains therefore establishment of riparian corridors(e.g. deep rooted grasses & shrubs) should consider future maintenance activities (refer to engineers report and drainage BMP practice recommendations) watercourse partially receives cover from adjacent natural areas therefore focus should be on establishment of areas with little to no existing riparian (e.g. north branch off Furry Drain and Little Marsh Drain) ample of opportunity exists for establishment of riparian habitat providing connectivity between adjacent natural areas (e.g., between complexes of Moulton Wetland West PSW and adjacent natural areas) existing riparian should be maintained watercourses are managed as very high riparian-wetland restoration suitability along watercourse between fragmented natural areas protect existing wetlands (e.g., create a buffer of trees and shrubs between the wetlands and the agricultural activities) create/enhance wetlands in areas where the wetness index and soil drainage permit; priority should be given to areas adjacent to existing wetlands(e.g., very high restoration suitability exists between Moulton Wetland West PSW complexes) very high riparian-wetland restoration suitability along watercourse between fragmented natural areas high suitability for infilling and enhancement of Moulton Wetland West PSW complexes and between unevaluated wetlands south of Furry Drain 129 very high suitability exists for creating a Critical Function Zone (CFZ) between Moulton Wetland West PSW complexes by means of filling in gaps increasing interior habitat while providing a variety of critical functions for wetlandassociated fauna (e.g. nesting habitat) A Critical Function Zone is a functional extension of the wetland into the upland area. CFZ‟s provide a number of functions for wetlandassociated fauna that extend beyond the wetland boundary (e.g. nesting habitats, foraging areas). very high suitability for infilling in and around Moulton Wetland West PSW providing a Critical Function Zone and increasing interior size which would support a larger diversity of flora and fauna opportunity for linkage creation between fragmented natural areas

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