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Mushamush River Habitat Restoration Project

Project Summary

The Mushamush River has been extensively utilized by the residents of Mahone Bay for both industrial and recreational benefits since the late 1800’s.  Over the past two centuries, this river has been the site for numerous sawmills, gristmills, log drive operations, and dams to utilize electrical power.  The Mushamush River’s contributions to the local economy have come at the high cost of extensive degradation and have left many signs of environmental damage behind.The most noticieable effect, drastic reductions in salmonid and avian numbers as well as in the watershed’s ability to support such populations. The purpose of the Mushamush River Habitat Restoration Project is to enhance the ability of the Mushamush River to support a diverse population of freshwater species by building and maintaining in-stream restoration structures and improving adjacent riparian areas for the overall improvement of natural habitat and biodiversity.

BCAF has also developed a Watershed Management Plan specifically for the Mushamush River.  This plan outlines priority areas where focused restoration efforts are required.  BCAF has been successfully working on one particular area within the Mushamush River for the past few years; the former Nova Scotia Power dam site.  This section of river was severely degraded when Nova Scotia Power removed their dam in 2000, causing problems both up and downstream from that location.  It was after this dam removal that BCAF designed a specific restoration plan for the Mushamush River from the Highway #103 overpass down to the Mahone Bay Harbour.

The main objective of the project is to re-create and restore the natural pattern of the river at the chosen locations using large rock deflectors, as well as restoring the associated riparian areas adjacent to the in-stream work.  As a direct result of the installed structures and tree planting activities, the water levels through this stretch will deepen and water temperatures will remain cooler.  Also, the resulting pools will provide resting and rearing habitat for aquatic species in the system and the riparian areas will provide quality habitat for terrestrial species within the watershed area.

The positive impacts and benefits to both the community and the environment that will result from this project include:

  • Improved fish passage in the lower reaches of the Mushamush River.
  • Improved quality and quantity of freshwater habitat in the lower reaches of the Mushamush River.
  • Improved riparian areas within the lower Mushamush River watershed for terrestrial and avian species.
  • An increased capacity within the Mushamush River watershed to support biodiversity.
  • The return of the river to its natural meander pattern.
  • Improved water conditions (e.g., more rapids and depth) for kayakers.
  • Hopefully, a return of the salmon run in the Mushamush River.
  • Improved community awareness and support for river restoration efforts in the Mushamush River.

Completed Projects to Date:

  • Rock sill project on Lower Mushamush River to create natural pools within the river.
  • Wing deflector project to increase water flow and depth, bringing the river back to its natural state after being widened and straightened in the past.
  • Installation and assessment of digger logs.
  • Tree planting as part of riparian zone management.
  • Public education posters to raise community awareness of the restoration efforts.