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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 Casey Drain Restoration Strategy The main watercourse branches of the Casey Drain subwatershed are designated as municipal drains. The main branch of Casey Drain is a Class C municipal drain and the West, East and North Branches are all designated as Class F Drains. The West, East and the southern portion of the main branch of Casey Drain are classified as important (Type 2) fish habitat. The Lake Erie shoreline in this area has been identified as Fowler Toad habitat of which Niagara is one of only three areas in Canada where this SAR is found. Six sites were assessed in this subwatershed as part of the NPCA Geomorphic Assessment; all sites were within designated municipal drains. Bank instability and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed was noted at a number of field sites (NPCA 2009b). 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 instream habitat and nutrient enrichment (NPCA 2010). Water quality sampling indicates poor water quality with exceedances of chloride, 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. The north branch of Casey Drain flows through Lowbanks Backshore Wetland Complex before joining the main drain. The remainder of the watercourses flow through several agricultural fields with little to no buffer before reaching the slight residential node along the lakeshore and draining into Lake Erie. The clustered fragments of natural areas in this subwatershed offers plenty of opportunity for creating ecological linkages between natural areas creating larger contiguous areas and infilling by enhancement of existing natural areas thus increasing core size. The challenge of the Casey Drain subwatershed is the establishment and maintenance of a sufficient vegetative riparian buffer when maintenance activities are necessary on the municipal drains to facilitate in proper drainage of the agricultural fields. However, a riparian buffer is imperative in assisting with the protection and enhancement of water quality and fish habitat while providing a linkage that will facilitate in wildlife movement along the watercourse between natural areas. Incorporation of best management drain maintenance practices are recommended for this subwatershed, if not already being undertaken, such as minimizing bank disturbance or leaving one side of the drain covered in vegetation. Refer to Appendix I for examples of typical mitigation measures for drain maintenance. The Casey Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy identifies two zones with specific stewardship and restoration recommendations (Table 13 and Figure 24). 150

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Table 13: Casey Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy Restoration Opportunities Recommended Restoration Strategies Riparian Wetland Upland and Ecological Linkages 1. Casey Drain North Branch and West Branch and northern half of main branch 2. Casey Drain East Branch and southern half of main branch the watercourses in this portion partially receive cover from adjacent natural areas therefore focus should be on establishment of a buffer in areas with little to no existing riparian (east of Brawn Road along West Branch and north of Gord Harry Conservation Trail) 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) the watercourses in this portion of the study area have little to no riparian habitat therefore priority should be placed on the establishment of a riparian buffer riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and cool the water to enhance water quality very high riparian-wetland restoration suitability along watercourses between fragmented naural areas very high suitability exists for enhancement of wetlands north of Casey Branch West Branch 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 Lowbanks Backshore Wetland Complexes) wetland restoration suitability mapping identifies numerous areas suitable for wetland creation: see map protect existing wetlands (e.g., create a buffer of trees and shrubs between the wetlands and the agricultural activities) enhance existing or establish new wetlands as natural flood storage reservoirs and groundwater recharge areas create new wetlands in areas where the wetness index and soil drainage permit; wetland restoration suitability mapping 151 very high suitability exists upland restoration between natural areas in western portion of study area, extending into adjacent subwatershed creating ecological linkages or infilling increasing interior size of feature very high suitability for creating a Critical Function Zone surrounding Emerson Road Woodlot. This will provide for a variety of critical functions for wetland-associated fauna (e.g. nesting habitat) very high suitability for infilling and enhancing in and around wooded areas in eastern portion of study area and extending into adjacent subwatershed therefore increasing interior size and/or creating larger contiguous which would enhance the natural areas ability to support a larger diversity of flora and fauna

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