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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 drain; Wignell Drain. It has been channelized and lacks any depositional features along the stream bed which indicate little flow diversity within the channel. The lack of large woody vegetation in the buffer zone impacts habitat and cover over the stream. The buffer width is small which results in agricultural land being close to the stream. In-channel vegetation and algae were noted during a site visit in 2008. In some areas there is relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed. Small tributaries and/or possibly gullies/rills exist along the watercourse. Increasing the size and diversity of native plant vegetation within the buffer zone will provide cover and habitat for fish, insects, and invertebrates along the watercourse. It will also provide a filter for sediment and chemicals that may enter the channel from runoff of fields and roads. Water quality should continue to be monitored in this watercourse. Monitoring the accumulation of sediment along the channel bed can be done by the use of sediment traps throughout the watercourse. Projects to prevent and limit further development of rills adjacent to the watercourse should be implemented. Some examples include grassed waterways, chute spillways, tile drainage outlets, and proper tillage and cropping practices (OMAFRA, 1997a, and OMAFRA, 1997b). All recommendations should be discussed with the Drainage Superintendent. All field sites are within a designated municipal drain, Wignell Drain and Michener Drain M-2. Both bank instability and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed was identified 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. Rill prevention measures such as slope re-grading, erosion control blankets, and seeding should be implemented along the adjacent property. Excessive sediment deposition can cause problems in the watercourse, such as lateral channel adjustments, increased turbidity, filling in of pools, and impacting fish habitat. Monitoring the accumulation of sediment along the channel bed can be done by the use of sediment traps throughout the watercourse. Some of the field sites have moderate entrenchment, which means that flood waters will have little to no access to the floodplain. Confining the flood waters to the channel results in the loss of the adjacent floodplain, which impacts the hydraulic function of the watercourse (floodplains are storage areas for flood waters) and the physical habitat (loss of floodplain vegetation and the organisms that live there). It will also change the channel geometry overtime due to increased velocity, stream power, and channel slope. Increasing the variety and diversity of native plant species within small buffer zones will provide cover and habitat for fish, insects, and invertebrate along the watercourse. All recommendations should be discussed with the Drainage Superintendent. Naturalizing Drains and Drain Best Management Practices Promote Good Shoreline Stewardship Blue Flag Beaches In addition to having an impact on aquatic and riparian habitat, drain maintenance has the potential to become quite costly through repeated maintenance activities. Naturalizing drains can potentially lengthen the time between maintenance events by reducing the amount of sediment entering and remaining in the drain. Best Management Practices for drain maintenance should be developed in consultation with, but not limited to, the following agencies; OMAFRA, DFO, MNR, Conservation Ontario, OFA, DSAO, CFFO, and the agricultural community to reduce ecological impacts to aquatic systems and to prevent sediment from returning to the drain. Any future maintenance of this watercourse should be done in accordance with Best Management Practices for drains. To review examples of current BMP mitigation measures, refer to Appendix I. Work with partnering stakeholders to promote shoreline that have been maintained naturally or restored to find a balance between natural processes and shoreline protection measures. Work with partnering agencies to mitigate water quality issues and work towards Blue Flag Beach status. Blue 194

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program Ecological Linkages between Natural Areas Riparian Buffer Education Program Wetlands are Worth It Program Environmentally Responsible Maintenance Practices for Golf Courses Agricultural Best Management Practices Program Abandoned Well Decommissioning Program Special Studies Flag status meets high standards with respect to water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety and services (Blueflag.ca) and is known globally. Blue Flag beaches have the potential to increase tourism in the area. Niagara Region and municipalities should work together to expand Niagara Region‟s IRVM Program. IRVM integrates the use of native vegetation with appropriate management techniques to produce a cost-effective, environmentally sound management alternative for roadside weed and erosion control while providing numerous ecological benefits (e.g. buffer strips). Focus of program expansion should be directed to main roads and roads in areas with a high shallow intrinsic susceptibility. Opportunity potential is present for creating ecological linkages between natural areas creating larger contiguous natural features. Such areas have the potential to enhance movement of flora and fauna between natural areas as well as provide habitat and ecological diversity for a wide range of species. Many landowners keep their properties manicured or plant crops to the edge of the creek. The NPCA‟s program aimed at educating landowners about the benefits of buffer zones along watercourses should be extensively promoted. In addition, landowners should be made aware of and encouraged to participate in the Conservation Authority‟s Water Quality Improvement Program. This program provides grants to a maximum of 75% of the cost of a project with caps between $2,000 and $10,000. Wetlands provide important water quality and ecological functions in a watershed by augmenting low flow, acting as natural filtration systems and helping to reduce flooding by acting like giant sponges and absorbing excess water. The Wetlands are Worth It Program through NPCA‟s Water Quality Improvement Program aims to assist landowners that are interested in restoring, protecting, rehabilitating and creating wetland habitat on their property by providing grants to a maximum of 75% of the cost of a project with a grant ceiling of $10,000. 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. Investigation into the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses should be explored for golf courses if such a program has not already been adopted. In addition, environmentally friendly practices should be encouraged (e.g. chemical free practices). The NPCA‟s program aimed at educating landowners about the benefits of rural and agricultural best management practices should be extensively promoted. In addition, landowners should be made aware of and encouraged to participate in the Conservation Authority‟s Water Quality Improvement Program. This program provides grants to a maximum 75% of the cost of a project with caps between $5,000 and $12,000 depending on the project. Abandoned wells that are not properly decommissioned (capped and sealed) pose a threat to groundwater resources by providing a direct route to groundwater. The NPCA has a well decommissioning program in place for its jurisdiction. Grants are available for the decommissioning of unused water wells only. Priority is given to hydrogeologically sensitive areas, projects located in areas with a high density of domestic water wells, and areas where watershed plans have been completed or are ongoing (NPCA 2007). Approved grants will cover 90% of well decommissioning costs to a maximum of $2,000 per well (limit of 2 wells per property). This is a reimbursement program, which means that the landowner will pay the full cost to the contractor, and will be reimbursed for 90% of the total project cost after all receipts, invoices, and water well decommissioning records are submitted to the NPCA. Recommendations for Further Study 195

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