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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 Wignell Drain Restoration Strategy The watercourses in the Wignell Drain subwatershed are primarily managed as municipal drains; Wignell Drain and Michener Drain. Michener Drain and the upper branches of Wignell Drain are Class F Drains and Wignell Drain is a Class B Drain and all are designated as important fish habitat. The MNR has also identified the Nickel Beach area as critical fish habitat. Water quality sampling results indicate a water quality index rating of Poor with exceedances of chloride, E.coli., total phosphorus, and suspended solids (NPCA 2010). 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. Thirteen geomorphic assessments were conducted along Wignell Drain and Michener Drain. Bank instability and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposition was noted along the channel bed throughout the watercourse. The possibility of rills/gullies present at approximately half of the field sites visited indicates the potential for additional sediment entering the watercourse. Excessive sediment deposition can cause problems in the watercourse, such as lateral channel adjustments, increased turbidity, filling in of pools, and impacting fish habitat (NPCA 2009b). Land use in the subwatershed is primarily agriculture with rural residential throughout the study area. Nickel Beach, a public beach is located along the shoreline in this area. There is one golf course in this portion of the study area; Whiskey Run Golf Club. By integrating golf course management practices with wildlife management, such as incorporating enhanced natural areas into the landscaping, golf courses have the potential to offer a wide range of habitat for wildlife. In addition, encouragement of environmentally responsible maintenance practices, if not already adopted, will be beneficial to water quality and the aquatic habitat. In terms of natural heritage features, Port Colborne Quarry provincial earth science ANSI, a portion of Nickel Beach Marsh PSW, and numerous small woodlots areas scattered throughout the watershed. Several Species at Risk have been identified in the study area including the endangered butternut tree and the threatened common hop tree and fowler‟s toad. The Lake Erie shoreline in this area has been identified as fowler‟s toad habitat, a federally and provincially threatened species, of which Niagara is one of only three areas in Canada where this SAR is found. The challenge of the Wignell Drain subwatershed is the establishment and preservation of riparian habitat when maintenance activities are necessary on the municipal drains to facilitate in proper drainage of the agricultural fields. Incorporation of best management drain maintenance practices are recommended, if not already being undertaken, such as minimizing bank disturbance or leaving one side of the drain covered in vegetation. This would not only provide a corridor for wildlife but would also provide stability to the drain and filter sediment coming from adjacent fields resulting in less sediment entering the drain and possibly lengthening the time between clean-outs. A “new Engineer‟s Report is scheduled to be completed to address a number of issues such as water quality and the potential constriction at the control structure” (Bennemeer 2010). This would be an ideal time to work with the Drainage Superintendant to help address the aforementioned issues while finding an ecological balance between form and function of the municipal drain. The fragmented pattern of the natural areas in this subwatershed provide for an abundance of opportunity for creating ecological linkages between existing natural areas throughout the subwatershed and extending into adjacent subwatersheds. As previously mentioned, the establishment of riparian habitat would also provide important links for wildlife to move between these scattered natural areas. In addition, ample of opportunity exists for filling in gaps in and between natural heritage features increasing the natural areas interior and creating larger contiguous 186

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN natural heritage blocks with adjacent natural areas. Larger areas have an increased ability to support a larger diversity of flora and fauna. High restoration suitability is present surrounding Nickel Beach Marsh PSW and Wignell Drain Wetland Complex LSW. Enhancement around these significant features will provide for a variety of habitat for wetland-associated fauna that may extend beyond the wetland boundary, such as nesting sites for turtles and birds. The Wignell Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy identifies two zones with specific stewardship and restoration recommendations (Table 18 and Figure 29). 187

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