Residents of the South Nation River watershed are often surprised to hear it’s home to some 72 fish species, including several sport fish.
One of South Nation Conservation’s (SNC) major roles is to keep track of locations and populations of the various species while tracking water quality. It does so annually through the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP), explained SNC Resource Technician Ryan Robson.
The project relies on cooperation from property owners who are pleased to learn about the amount and variety of fish caught in their local stream. Participating owners receive a summary report of OSAP findings; in addition, a summary will be posted on SNC’s website, www.nation.on.ca.
“Overall, despite the often murky appearance caused by silt, water quality in the South Nation River is such that many freshwater fish are sustained,” Robson said. “Fish diversity and abundance are prime indicators of individual stream health.”
This season (June-September), OSAP sampling will take place in Nation Municipality, Township of Alfred Plantagenet, and City of Clarence Rockland. Tributaries included will be Clarence Creek, Bear Brook, Lac Georges, Cobb’s Lake Creek, and Scotch River.
It takes SNC staff two to three days per site to collect the full suite of data: fish, bugs, site morphology and conditions.
Water temperature data loggers will be installed at each location to track the thermal dynamics of the streams. Additional sampling at each site will be conducted in the fall focusing on benthic aquatic invertebrates.
“Aquatic bugs can tell us quite a bit about water quality because, unlike fish, they’re less able to swim away if there’s a sudden change in conditions. Their variety and numbers are very telling about the recent health of the stream.”
While touring the tributaries, staff members take the opportunity to designate possible shoreline restoration and tree planting projects undertaken in cooperation with owners. Help is provided with design, tree planting services, advice, and possible funding.