Waterstrider Newsletter, January 2021

We are sharing the first newsletter of 2021 of: Waterstrider, News from Clean Annapolis River Project

  1. Connecting youth to the Annapolis Valley sand barrens
  2. New project: The collaborative remediation of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear in Southwest Nova Scotia.
  3. The role of municipalities in climate change mitigation
  4. Sustainable Energy Planning Project Update
  5. New project: The WATER Project
  6. Call for chain pickerel and smallmouth bass catch/observation data
  7. Upcoming webinar series

Connecting youth to the Annapolis Valley sand barrens

Youth at Annapolis Sand barrens
Youth at Annapolis Sand barrens
Youth at Annapolis Sand barrens

Brittni Scott, Private Land Stewardship Coordinator
The Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia is home to a globally rare ecosystem that was created by glaciers over 10,000 years ago. As the glaciers receded, they dropped sand on the valley floor – in some places over 3.5 storeys deep. Specialized, low lying lichens and shrubs began dominating this dry and acidic landscape, which became prime foraging ground for herds of caribou. It is thought that fires would routinely ravage across this ecosystem, helping prevent forests from overtaking the sun-loving shrubs. Many of the plants that call this ecosystem home evolved fire-adapted traits in response. For example, the Jack Pine grows ‘serotinous’ cones that only disperse their seeds when heated to extreme temperatures. This helps ensure that even if a fire destroys the tree itself, the tree can still reproduce into the next generation.

This rare sand barrens ecosystem in the Annapolis Valley is commonly known as the Annapolis Sand Barrens. It is the best representation of this ecosystem type in all of Canada. Currently, only 3% of the original sand barrens exist in the region, with much of it converted to different forms of human land-use. CARP has undertaken a project working to both raise our understanding of this unique, local ecosystem, but also raise awareness of it. As part of this initiative, CARP is working to connect youth growing up in the Annapolis Sand Barrens with this ecosystem.

Throughout September and October of 2020, CARP organized outings for schools within walking distance of the Annapolis Sand Barrens. Students learned to identify some of the iconic species through various games and activities, from Sand Barrens Bingo to constructing food-webs. Students were also taught about the threats posed to the remaining sand barrens. In total, over 200 students were able to participate, from grades 6-8 and 11-12. As an added bonus, students and teachers alike were able to enjoy fresh air and relaxation during a particularly stressful school year.


NEW PROJECT: The Collaborative remediation of abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in Southwest Nova Scotia

Rachel Walsh, Project Leader

Abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), commonly known as “ghost gear”, makes up a large portion of all marine debris. It causes significant negative environmental, economic, and social impacts including habitat degradation, indiscriminate fishing and entanglements, decreased catches, at-sea safety hazards, and vessel damage. Ghost gear is generated by unfavorable environmental conditions (like storms and bottom type), gear conflicts among fishers and other industries, poor gear condition, and inappropriate disposal at sea. Losses can be accidental, fishers are not always at fault, as the marine environment is shared with other industries.

The Collaborative remediation of abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in Southwest Nova Scotia project will work collaboratively with industry, academia, and government to prevent, reduce, and assess the impacts of ghost gear on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (Lobster Fishing Areas 33, 34, and 35 – Nova Scotia side only) from July 2020 to March 2022. This project is being led by Coastal Action, a charitable organization that addresses environmental concerns within the South Shore region of Nova Scotia. CARP has a strong history of project delivery in partnership with Coastal Action, and is looking forward to supporting the implementation of the project in our area, which coincides with Lobster Fishing Area 25. Project objectives will be accomplished through implementing waste management systems for responsible disposal of end-of-life gear, retrieving ghost gear from targeted areas, and conducting an impact assessment of ghost gear during retrieval, with ongoing communication campaigns throughout the project.

The project intends to divert approximately 2,000 lobster traps and 22 tonnes of rope from high-impact disposal methods. Across Southwest Nova Scotia, 10 harbours will be equipped with rope disposal bins and fishers will complete 159 retrieval days in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 through 35. This project will engage approximately 40 partners and will apply new technologies to help manage ghost gear. Sustane Technologies Inc. located near Chester NS, will be recycling collected rope into diesel fuel; and innovative mapping technologies will be used in partnership with Dalhousie’s Oceanography Department and the Ocean Tracking Network to improve the upcoming retrieval process by using side-scan sonar technology to clearly identify where lost gear resides on the seafloor.

Retrieval efforts in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34 commenced in Fall 2020 and resulted in the retrieval of  288 lobster traps, 500kg of rope, and 1500kg of steel cable. 239 lobsters were released, 67% of which were market sized. There were also  7 groundfish, 5 of which were species-at-risk (Wolffish, Cod & Cusk), released.

Retrieval efforts in our area will not begin until late summer 2021, outside of the lobster fishing season. In the meantime, we are looking forward to rope disposal bin deployment, which is scheduled for late January. The wharves in Digby and Victoria Beach will both be receiving disposal bins as part of this pilot project.

This project is being made possible thanks to the financial support of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program (SFSRSCP).

lobster trap lobster trap retrieved


The Role Of Municipalities In Climate Change Mitigation

Morgaine Mason, Sustainable Energy Coordinator

Municipalities have a key role to play in meeting greenhouse gas mitigation targets in Canada, with Municipal governments having an estimated control of over 44% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada, directly and indirectly (FCM, 2009). Several Canadian municipalities have already set ambitious GHG reduction targets and initiated energy efficiency programming and clean energy projects.

Clean Annapolis River Project is working to support the Town of Middleton and Town of Annapolis Royal to take steps to identify and implement their own initiatives and projects.  Thanks to a grant through Nova Scotia’s Low Carbon Communities program, CARP initiated a project in partnership with each of the towns in September 2020. The project has involved a deep look into current policies and practices surrounding clean energies, potential programming and strategies, energy efficiency projects within municipal operations, and opportunities to increase capacity and awareness for Town staff, members of Council, and other stakeholders.

We are in a pivotal time in the clean energy transition, and action from Municipalities is essential to meet national targets.  In November 2020, Canada announced its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 through the Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act, joining 120 other countries that have already committed to the same goal. Governments at the provincial and municipal level must work together if we are going to make this goal a reality. Municipal governments can make impactful decisions when it comes to land-use and planning. They are also the government that is closest to the community level, and because of this, they are in a better position to educate and influence community member decision-making and can help to engage individuals to become involved in local projects, programs, and events. There remains a lot of potential for reducing emissions at the municipal levels, and while some options require a high upfront cost, many of them do not.  However, one thing we know for certain is that the cost of not doing anything is our most expensive option.


Sustainable Energy Planning Project Update

Jakemen Mercer, Sustainable Energy Coordinator

In 2020 CARP hired two graduates of the Nova Scotia Community College – Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology (NSCC – ESET) program, Jakemen Mercer and Morgaine Mason, to take on the roles of Sustainable Energy Advisors for the Towns of Annapolis Royal and Middleton, Nova Scotia. The main purpose of this role is to assist the Towns in reducing energy use in Town-owned buildings.

We are very fortunate that we have been able to take advantage of the tremendous resources available through the NSCC-ESET program. On September 30th 2020, three groups of ESET students led by Jakemen Mercer, and NSCC instructors Kris Humphries and Jamie Thompson, conducted energy audits of the Town Hall, Public Works, and Fire Hall buildings in Annapolis Royal. They collected data by taking photographs, thermal images, nameplate information, fenestration, and other various measurements.

This data was then taken and modeled in a program called RETScreen. RETScreen is offered by National Resources Canada (NRCan) as a Clean Energy Management Software for energy efficiency, renewable energy and cogeneration project feasibility analysis, and ongoing energy performance analysis.

The ESET students found that, like most aging Nova Scotia buildings, the largest energy draws for the three assessed buildings involved leaky building envelopes, which include items such as insufficient levels of insulation and cracks around windows and doors, as well as, inefficient heating sources. Another source of notable energy loss is lighting.

To address these items of large energy draws or inefficiencies the ESET students provided a variety of recommendations, such as…

  1. For buildings with inefficient heating systems, such as oil-fuelled systems, it was recommended these be upgraded to a heat pump, or multiple heat pumps, which match the current systems heating values (Usually British Thermal Units (BTU’s).
  • Fuel-powered heating systems typically have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 70-90% whereas heat pumps have an AFUE over 100%. An AFUE of 85% means that 85% of the energy in the fuel is converted into heat while 15% of the energy is lost in the combustion process. Heat pumps are also measured with other scales of comparison such as, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF).
  1. Building envelopes should be sealed and caulked, all single-pane windows upgraded to at least double pane windows and at a minimum ensure the attic space of each building is well insulated.
  • The sealing of the building envelope is done to ensure that unwanted airflow from outside of the building to inside is reduced to a minimum. Upgrading windows from single to double-pane reduces heat loss in the winter and heat infiltration in the summer. Due to attic spaces tending to be easily accessible, open, and large they tend to be an easy and inexpensive location to increase insulation and decrease heat loss.
  1. All lighting in the buildings is recommended to be upgraded to LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights. Currently, the prominent lighting in the buildings is CFL (Compact Fluorescent).
  • The cost of LED lighting upgrades in recent years has dropped greatly and is continuing on this trend. LED lighting also lasts longer and is cheaper to run when compared to CFL and incandescent lighting.

Overall, if the full suite of recommendations provided were implemented it would result in energy reductions of 77% in Town Hall, 66% at the Public Works Building, and 30% in the Fire Hall. Our next steps include identifying funding opportunities that might help make the implementation of these actions feasible, and supporting the Town in any future decision making.

Nova Scotia Community College – Energy Sustainability Engineering Technology (NSCC – ESET) program, students and instructors

NEW PROJECT: The W.A.T.E.R Project

Contributed content: Fielding Montgomery, Nova Scotia Salmon Association

CARP is excited to be partnering on a new initiative being led by the Nova Scotia Salmon Association. The Watershed Assessment Toward Ecological Restoration (WATER) project is a large-scale, four-year project funded by DFO’s Canada Nature Fund. The overarching goal of the project is to implement aquatic habitat restoration across Nova Scotia, supported by both regional planning and local action.

This project is taking place in two regions in Nova Scotia: The Southern Uplands, where our watershed fits in, and the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Watershed plans will be developed for eight watersheds across the southeastern shore of Nova Scotia (Southern Uplands), and four watersheds in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Southern Uplands Region WATER program will develop regional, watershed-level plans to guide restoration efforts to help improve the quality of aquatic habitat, with a focus on four key species at risk:

  • Atlantic Salmon
  • American Eel
  • Atlantic Whitefish
  • Brook Floater

Community Local Knowledge Survey

The WATER Project’s main focus at this stage is to gather information about the priority watersheds and species. As part of this, we are collecting data on species and habitat using eDNA, water quality measurements, habitat and species reports and literature, and geospatial data. However, these sources often miss important local knowledge that community members, naturalists, and anglers already know. This information can be very helpful in guiding further assessments, data collection, restoration efforts, etc.

The NSSA has developed a survey for community members to share their knowledge of their local watersheds with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association. By completing this survey, you will help the NSSA and partner organizations in their efforts to improve the health of the four priority watersheds in the Southern Uplands region (Saint Mary’s River, Moser River, West River Sheet Harbor, Musquodoboit River, LaHave River, Medway River, and the Annapolis River) for four species at risk (Atlantic Salmon, American Eel, Atlantic Whitefish, and Brook Floater).

You can complete the survey online here: nssalmon.ca/southernuplandssurvey

If you would like to complete the survey verbally over the phone, please contact project leader Rachel Walsh to make arrangements.

Complete the survey

Watershed assessmnet towards ecosystem recovery
Watershed assessmnet towards ecosystem recovery

Have you seen these fish?

Small mouth bass
Small mouth bass
Chain pickerel
Chain pickerel

We are looking for any new records of chain pickerel or smallmouth bass from Nova Scotia. This information will be used to update the provincial aquatic invasive species database, which conservation practitioners use for a variety of purposes.

If you have any catch or observation data, please consider sharing it. Please submit as many of the following pieces of information as possible:

  • Species
  • Number of individuals caught (if multiple in the same place)
  • Waterbody name and county
  • Location (lat/long, UTM, google map point)
  • Date
  • Observer name
  • Observer e-mail

To share catch/observation data, contact Rachel Walsh.

Thanks to Justin Trimm for the photos!

Upcoming Webinars

Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk Webinars
Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk Webinars

As part of our work under the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, we will be hosting a series of webinars exploring topics relevant to species at risk in agro-ecosystems. Agro-ecosystems are the natural ecosystems that exist on land managed and modified for the purposes of food and fibre production.

Dates and times will be announced in the coming days/weeks. Speakers will include:

  • Dr. David Burton discussing nitrogen management in the face of Climate Change
  • Dr. Nancy McLean who will be discussing supporting wild bee populations, February 18, 1:30-2:30
  • Katie McLean (CARP), who will be sharing work on beneficial management practice implementation in Nova Scotia
  • TBA, the use of controlled tile draining in Nova Scotia

Check our website or social media for more announcements.

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