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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 Bearss Drain Restoration Strategy Like several of the subwatersheds along the Lake Erie shoreline, the Bearss Drain subwatershed is drained predominately by a series of municipal drains; Neff Drain, Bearss Drain, Silver Bay Drain, and William-Michael Drain. Bearss Drain and Silver Bay Drain are both Class C municipal drains and Neff Drain and William-Michael Drain are Class F Drains. The main channel and some of its tributaries have been classified as important fish habitat. The remaining watercourses in this subwatershed have not been evaluated in terms of importance for fish habitat. The NPCA does not conduct water quality sampling in this subwatershed. The NPCA conducted geomorphic assessments on four sites in the Bearss Drain subwatershed. Bank instability was present at all sites and two of the four sites have relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed. 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 this study area is a mix of agriculture, rural residential and seasonal residential along the shoreline. Empire Beach Backshore Basin Forest PSW and Life Science ANSI are located along the Lake Erie shoreline and numerous wetlands and woodlots are scattered throughout the subwatershed. Several SAR have indentified by the MNR in the Bearss Drain subwatershed, including the endangered prothonotary warbler, the threatened fowler‟s toad, and the cerulean warbler which is a species of special concern. In addition, the MNR has identified Lake Erie‟s shoreline in this area as habitat for the fowler‟s toad of which Niagara is one of only three areas in Canada where this SAR is found. The scattered arrangement of natural features in this subwatershed provides plenty of opportunity for infilling between natural areas and corridor creation providing linkages between features. Like other subwatersheds a challenge of Bearss Drain will be 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. However, these riparian habitats are important linkages between fragmented natural areas. The Bearss Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy identifies two zones with specific stewardship and restoration recommendations (Table 21 and Figure 32). 212

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Table 21: Bearss Drain Subwatershed Restoration Strategy Restoration Opportunities Recommended Restoration Strategies Riparian Wetland Upland and Ecological Linkages 1. North of Highway 3 and Neff Drain: headwater region 2 South of Highway 3 to Lake Erie priority should be placed on establishing riparian buffer habitat; the headwaters run through agricultural lands and along roadway with little to no buffer strip riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and contaminant loads from adjacent land uses, and cool the water to enhance water quality and fish habitat while creating corridors connecting fragmented natural areas providing cover for wildlife watercourses are managed as municipal drains(e.g. deep rooted grasses & shrubs) therefore establishment of riparian corridors should consider future maintenance activities (refer to engineers report and drainage BMP practice recommendations) watercourses receive partial cover from adjacent natural areas, however there are large sections of watercourse with little to no riparian habitat; therefore focus should be on establishment of riparian buffers in areas with little to no existing riparian the watercourses run through agricultural lands and along the roadways with little to no buffer strip riparian buffers will help to reduce sediment and contaminant loads from adjacent land uses, and cool the water to protect existing wetlands (e.g., create a buffer of trees and shrubs between the wetlands and the agricultural activities) wetland restoration suitability mapping identifies very high suitability for enhancement and filling in gaps surrounding Bears Drain Wetland Complex, Humberstone Southwest Wetland Complex both extending into adjacent subwatersheds very high suitability for wetlandriparian restoration linking fragmented natural areas wetland restoration suitability mapping identifies numerous areas suitable for wetland creation: see map high riparian-wetland restoration suitability linking fragmented natural areas suitability mapping indicates very high suitability surrounding Empire Beach Backshore Basin Forest ANSI and PSW, Bearss Drain Wetland and for wetland-riparian restoration along watercourses creating ecological linkages between fragmented natural areas and adjacent subwatersheds enhance existing or establish new wetlands as natural flood storage reservoirs and groundwater recharge areas in 213 high suitability exists for upland restoration surrounding natural areas along western and eastern portion of study area, extending into adjacent subwatershed creating ecological linkages or infilling increasing interior size of feature high suitability for creating a Critical Function Zone surrounding PSW‟s. This will provide for a variety of critical functions for wetlandassociated fauna (e.g. nesting habitat) focus in this portion of the study area should be on enhancement of existing natural areas and the creation of ecological linkages very high suitability for infilling and enhancement surrounding Empire Beach Backshore Basin ANSI providing a Critical Function Zone, increasing interior size, and/or creating larger contiguous which would enhance the natural areas ability to support a larger diversity of flora and fauna opportunity for creation of ecological linkages between fragmented natural areas facilitating in the movement of flora and fauna between natural areas (e.g. between fragmented complexes of Empire Beach Backshore Basin Forest along western side of study area extending

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