“River Rendezvous ‘97": a celebration of rivers and an educational weekend for those who seek to improve them. We hope to develop a fun/interesting program while delivering lots of useable information to the general public and professionals alike”
"This has been one of the most exciting conferences I’ve ever been part of!" ... "When is the next River Rendezvous?" ... "Will it happen every year?" ... "What a thrill to see so many young people with such a passion for streams and watersheds!"

These were some of the comments heard during the weekend of June 20-22, at Bingeman’s Park near Kitchener, where almost 400 people came together in a remarkable outpouring of energy, to share their enthusiasm for rivers and enhance their understanding of issues related to aquatic habitat and community stewardship.

This first-time event, staged by Ontario Streams, was billed as ‘a celebration of rivers and those who seek to improve them.’ And that’s just what it turned out to be. Participants, who came from as far afield as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, British Columbia, and Quebec, covered a wide spectrum from interested lay persons to acknowledged international experts, from academics to civil servants, from anglers to bird watchers. Nor was the youngest generation excluded. A central exhibit area featured a wide variety of displays, including a booth with entertaining educational materials, from which sampling expeditions to the Grand River (a short walk away) catered to children and their parents.

Forty-one presenters conducted 36 seminars on topics ranging from basic river theory and function to stream biology, watershed management, habitat analysis, legal and regulatory policy, and a host of social issues surrounding wise management and regeneration. Community stewardship groups presented highlights of their work, both in the stream and (perhaps most importantly) with their local communities. Guided bus tours visited a number of interesting community projects in the Grand River watershed. And, in keeping with the theme of celebration, the Saturday night banquet featured the romping music of one of Ontario’s foremost Dixieland Jazz Bands.

Dr. Steven Born of the University of Wisconsin, whose work as advisor to the State Governor during the 1974-76 energy crisis, as well as with watershed issues in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico, has earned him widespread international acclaim, provided the weekend’s dominant themes:

  • "We have to understand, that the most fragile resource we’re working with is people who care, and we need to get a lot better at looking after them."
  • "Talking to people who are like you, who think the same way you do, is easy. The challenge is to get better at talking to people who think differently, to people who are unlike yourself, people you might actually dislike."
The event fulfilled a long-standing dream of two key players in Ontario’s stream stewardship program, Steve Copeland, vice-chair of Ontario Streams, past-president of Trout Unlimited and recipient of the 1991 Federal Fisheries Conservation Award; and Jack Imhof of the Ministry of Natural Resources, whose dedication, to enthuse, educate and guide concerned citizens, over and beyond his official duties, has been phenomenal.

"Putting something like this together took a heck of a lot of work," said Copeland, "but when you look around and see the result, when you realize just how many people there are out there who care, --- you know it was worth it." And on the subject of changes in the way resource management will be delivered in the future, Imhof shook his head and smiled, "The days of government nabobs telling people what to do are numbered. It will be informed citizens like these who’ll be letting government know what they expect and require for the wise use of their resources."

Ontario Streams gratefully acknowledges the support given to this project by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, by the Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund, and by our American friends who administer the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Fund.


Ontario Streams gratefully acknowledges the financial support of :
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Environment Canada - Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund
Ministry of Natural Resources - Community Fisheries Involvement Program
The Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Fund
Ontario Out of Doors Magazine
Bingeman’s Conference Centre
We are also indebted to the speakers, volunteers and audience who made this event possible.

These Proceedings have been produced to help increase the awareness of Ontario’s streams, rivers and their watersheds. While the thoughts and ideas presented in these proceedings may lead to the development of community initiatives in the future, the document does not constitute any formal position of Ontario Streams and its members.

Publication has been provided through the Adopt-A-Stream Program which is administered by Ontario Streams.
Compiled by
Kim Mandzy, Project Coordinator
Edited by
Mark Heaton, Partnerships Advisor
March 1998

Table of Contents

i -- Forward (D. Calderisi)

1 -- Sydenham Sportsmen's Stream Rehabilitation Strategies (J. Bittorf and J. Graham)

4 -- Stakeholder Involvement: Getting Past the Clichés (S. Born )

6 -- The Dam Challenge (I. D. Buchanan)

9 -- River Information Management System (C. Chang)

11 -- Freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in Ontario: history, distribution, and conservation ( J. DiMaio)

12 -- Stream Partnerships for the 21st Century (F. Dobbs)

13 -- Snake River Project: Wetlands, Woodlands and Wildlife Partnerships (B. Dobson)

17 -- Stream Work Case Histories (M. Eckersley)

18 -- The Impact of the Grand River Trout Fishery on the Local Economy
(Dr. J. Fitzgibbon and A. Smith)

19 -- Fishes of the Grand River (E. Holmes)

25 -- Great Lakes United (Recent Findings on Water Levels in the Great Lakes) (J. Jackson)

26 -- Beneath the Surface: Pattern and Process in River Communities (I. Martin)

29 -- River Hydraulics and Fish Habitat (R. Morris)

30 -- Community Involvement (T. Nash)

31 -- Toronto Area Streams in their Pristine State (H. Regier)

33 -- Tobacco, Trout and Creek Drains: Working Together on the Norfolk Sand Plain (D. Reid)

35 -- A New Habitat Assessment Methodology for Southern Ontario Streams (L. Stanfield)

39 -- Assessing Fish Habitat - Separating Good from Bad (C. Stoneman)

40 -- Saving the Nipigon Brook Trout: A Good News Story (R. Swainson)

42 -- Thames River Anglers (P. Noble and R. Bailey)

44 -- Seventy Years of Stream Habitat Restoration in North America (Dr. R. White)

45 -- Degradation and Rehabilitation of Toronto Area Streams: 1940’s to 1990’s (G. Wichert)

50 -- Community Involvement and Watersheds: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly (J. Conyngham)

British Columbia’s Watershed Restoration Program (R. Baldwin)

Fish or Famine (Bill Annable)

The Grand River Fisheries Management Plan (W. Yerex and F. Barbetti)

The Watershed Science Centre (L. Carl)

Soil Bioengineering for Stream Rehabilitation (R. Grillmayer)

Stream Naturalization Projects (G. Harrington)

The River, Fish and Dissolved Oxygen (M. Hartley)

Friends of the Grand: River Watch Program (P. Hodgson)

Watersheds, Rivers, Fish and People ( J. Imhof)

Understanding Rivers from a Landscape Perspective (B. McIntyre)

Communicating with Communities (R. Peace)

Who Competes for the Uses of the River? (J. Planck)

Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund (J. Shaw)

Protecting Loons from Lead Toxicosis Through Regulatory Reform (Dr. V. Thomas)

Genetic Stock Identification of Nottawasaga and Bighead River Steelhead (C. Weland)

Laws, Regulations and Policy (C. Worte)

Sydenham Sportsmen's Stream Rehabilitation Strategies

John Bittorf and Jeff Graham, of the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, share insights, ideas and results.

The Sydenham Sportsmen's Association is a volunteer conservation club made up of over 600 members dedicated to the wise use of our natural resources. Since its inception in the late 1940's, this club has been continually cited as one of the most progressive conservation clubs in Ontario. The SSA has years of experience with stream side fencing, fish habitat enhancement, artificial spawning channel creation, fish propagation and stocking, wildlife habitat enhancement and tree planting. Recently, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Howard Hampton presented the SSA with a plaque acknowledging them as the most active organization utilizing the Province's Community Fisheries Involvement Program (CFIP). This club has also been recently recognized by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters as the top conservation club in the Province.

With the Niagara Escarpment closely bordering Owen Sound's corner of Georgian Bay, our area has been blessed with some of the most scenic waterfalls in Ontario. Unfortunately for migrating salmonids, the escarpment also prevents access to high quality spawning areas in the upper reaches. For the most part, these salmonids make due with the limited resources found in the lower reaches of the Sydenham River, Pottawatomi River, Indian Creek and Keefer's Creek. Bothwell's Creek is the only watercourse in our area that the escarpment does not restrict access. Throughout the mid 1980's, the SSA concentrated most of their stream rehabilitation efforts on the creation of artificial spawning channels throughout the lower reaches of the Sydenham River. These permanently flowing channels took the place of low lying areas which attracted spawning runs of Rainbow trout during the higher Spring flows. When the flows receded, the fish and new redds were left high and dry. The new spawning channels solved this problem and were considered extremely successful in enhancing the reproductive potential of the salmonids accessing this area.

In the late 1980's, our area experienced unusually hot and dry summers. This weather pattern had lethal implications on the trout population in our area. The low water flows and the corresponding high water temperatures throughout the watershed, especially in the lower reaches, greatly reducing the carrying capacity for trout within our local streams. Without improved water quality and quantity throughout the entire watershed, our efforts in the lower reaches will only have limited success.

In 1991, the Sydenham Sportsmen's Association and the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority co-sponsored an Environmental Youth Corp project which involved the mapping of various land use practices along the streams and watercourses draining to the Owen Sound Bay area. This program identified 81 pasture fields that had unrestricted livestock access to these watercourses. From a fisheries aspect, the impact of uncontrolled livestock access to the watercourse causes physical bank erosion and sediment loading of the waterway. Excessive sediment loads can be detrimental to spawning areas harbouring developing fish eggs and embryos and can suffocate aquatic invertebrates which are a primary food source for fish. This access also removes or retards vegetative growth required to stabilize the banks and prevent water heating. High water temperature is usually considered to be the most limiting factor for trout production in permanently flowing systems. In general, direct solar radiation has been identified as the major cause of water heating. However, the exchange of energy between the warmer ambient air and the cooler water can quickly increase stream temperatures and should not be ignored.

Since 1991, the SSA has installed approximately 18 km of electric and page wire fence to protect over 10 km of watercourse. In general, the SSA has found that page wire fences are very durable if placed in the right locations. However, the stream corridor can be a very hostile area due to flooding, ice movements and snow loads. Page wire fences are difficult to repair and expensive to install. In most circumstances, fences along small streams are usually considered "internal fences". High tensile electric fencing makes an excellent internal fence due to its low profile, flexibility, easy repair and economical installation. This style of fence can be easily lowered to permit machinery access to the stream bank for future erosion protection and fish habitat enhancement.

Fencing has proven to be very effective in preventing further habitat destruction. However, the creation of a shelter belt along the streams corridor to reduce water temperatures has been the primary focus of the SSA's stream enhancement efforts. Over 25,000 trees have been planted along 16 km of stream. The trees will provide shade for the stream and insulate the stream corridor from the heating effects of the wind and surrounding air. In order to avoid future conflicts with beavers, white cedar seedlings have dominated the species planted within the protected stream corridors. Various wildlife shrubs such as dogwoods and hawthorns have naturally regenerated within the corridor.

Depending on the sites, the SSA has completed extensive bank erosion protection and fish habitat enhancement. Clean limestone shot rock material has been primarily used for all bank stabilization. This inexpensive angular material ranges in size from 5 cm to 30 cm and has been very effective for small scale rock rip rap and fish habitat enhancement. On outside bends that are actively eroding, rock rip rap is placed along the bank. At the toe of the rip rap, lunker structures are installed which create artificial undercut banks. These undercut areas provide excellent fish habitat and will remain clear of sediment due to the natural erosion forces within this area. This technique has worked very well and is ideally suited for small feeder streams that do not experience strong erosional forces associated with larger river systems. Other techniques include the placement of larger stones and woody material in the stream to provide cover, increase water velocities, and scour small pools.

In an effort to further reduce water temperatures, the SSA has completed bottom draw projects on three small instream ponds located immediately downstream of the Escarpment face. These projects rely on the fact that cold water is denser than warm water. During the summer months the pond's surface warms up under the influence of sunlight and hot air temperatures. At the same time, lower levels of even shallow ponds can remain relatively cool. In most cases, it's the warmer surface water which overflows the dam structure and impacts the trout population downstream. Two of the projects involved the installation of a pre-dam apparatus with piping extending out into the deeper sections of the pond. The third project involved the simple placement of a plastic sheet onto the upstream face of the dam. The plastic sheet being wider than the dam was bent into place with its edges held by the cement abutments. This sheet extended slightly above the surface of the water and was suspended above the bottom of the pond. Only water from the bottom could discharge over the dam. In two of the cases, new sections of trout stream were instantly produced. The other project resulted in the reduction of water temperatures on a stressed trout population.

In time, our club hopes that its ongoing efforts will result in long term environmental benefits which future generations will enjoy. The success our projects would not have happened without the funding support from the Ministry of Natural Resources' CFIP program, Environmental Partners Fund, the Sydenham Conservation Foundation, Canada Trust's Friends of the Environment fund, Owen Sound and Area Foundation, Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and Foundation, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

About the Speakers: John Bittorf and Jeff Graham, are long standing members of the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, one of Ontario’s premier volunteer conservation groups, with over 600 members, and years of experience in rehabilitating streams in the Owen Sound region.

Stakeholder Involvement: Getting Past the Clichés

Dr. Steve Born presents new directions in Watershed Management, merging government, agency and citizen activist cultures.

People are taking a new approach to streams, a more holistic watershed management approach. This watershed management scale of looking at streams is an improvement over the historically fragmented increm reactive (problem-response) approaches. Historical views and approaches have been unable to deal with the complexity of ecosystems and have resulted in limited success and undesired outcomes. The new reality of competing demands, diminishing fiscal resources and unsatisfactory implementation of programs has forced us to look at our approach to problem solving on a watershed basis.

There are two conceptions of watershed management, a top-down and a bottom-up structure. The top-down state/provincial/regional agency structures programs with a watershed focus, it’s single purpose to (??? comply) (often with local citizen “advisory committee/stakeholders”). This top-down approach/conception best serves scientists and planners. In the bottom-up structure programs are initiated by “grassroots” watershed groups. This approach focuses action at the community level, where people can best connect to their “watershed place”. This creates the best prospects for agreement on a course of action and implementation. Watershed groups distinguish shared-values advocacy groups from those that bring “unlikes” together (farmers, recreationists, businesses, conservationists, landowners, communities, government agencies and resource industries).

New roles are emerging for “grassroot organizations” and community stakeholders, from ritualistic and token consultation on management issues to real delegation of authority and shared decision-making (ie., shifting ownership of problem and solutions to the watershed community, composed of “stakeholders”).

Radically new roles and responsibilities are emerging for agency staff. Agencies are changing their approach. Where they were predominantly technocratic, and elitist with a regulatory mindset and a disdain for local knowledge, their role is changing to that of servant leadership, providing technical support for stakeholder groups, raising issues for discussion (versus telling), catalysts, but still with responsibility to provide sideboards. They establish constraints based on Federal, provincial/state/municipal laws and regulations; insure third-party representation; and present discussions and the decision making process on a level playing field, the rules of the game fair.

Given the interactive nature of watershed management issues there is an enlarged role for watershed stakeholders. One must define the stakeholders, assess how their interests are represented, and their legitimacy. When addressing watershed management issues, one must be inclusive, and ensure that all those with a stake are at the table (people with different views, values and priorities). Interaction is an important part of watershed management. Finding a common ground for action means not only communication, but conflict resolution (negotiation, bargaining and mediation). There must be agreed upon decision rules (ie. majority, unanimity, consensus).

Stakeholder groups have a large role to play in addressing problems through watershed management. Stakeholder groups can direct the vision of the problem and can provide solutions through action-oriented planning (little successes/tasks to build on). Stakeholder groups can build up a watershed identity, and can be active in watershed monitoring, and in implementation of management decisions and solutions.

Stakeholder groups are not scientists (although some may have expertise) and therefore citizen volunteers cannot be expected to supplant many agency staff work activities/responsibilities.

Through watershed management we hope to bring together watershed stakeholders who will get to know each other and build upon their skills. The goal being to work towards a better understanding of issues and a better ability to deal with scientific information. Watershed management should build the confidence and trust of stakeholders by increasing contact and familiarity among them, and should encourage mutual learning and a willingness to understand and acknowledge the perceptions of others. Watershed management can be leadership forming, as people are encouraged to take on more responsibility and leadership roles.

There is no formula for good, effective watershed management. It is a work in progress, we are on the learning curve and each watershed initiative is a laboratory.

About the Speaker: Dr. Steve Born has numerous degrees from America’s most distinguished universities including a Ph. D in Hydrogeology from Wisconsin-Madison where he is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Environmental Studies.

The Dam Challenge

Ian Buchanan presents a case history of dams and their impacts on the biological integrity of riverine ecosystems.

The following report is available from Ontario Streams:

Buchanan, I.D. and Annable W.K. 1997. Palgrave Dam Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project. Report

prepared for Ontario Streams.

The human action of damming a river has been described as a cataclysmic event in the life of a riverine ecosystem (Gup 1994). By altering the dynamic flow of water, sediment, nutrients, energy and biota, dams alter most of a river’s ecological processes.

In our haste to harness natural resources we have placed at risk the foundation of our very existence, that is our dependence on clean water and a healthy environment. Every country can be said to have three basic forms of wealth; material, cultural and biological. We understand that the first two form the basis for our existence, they are the substance of our everyday lives. Biological wealth is taken much less seriously. This is a serious strategic error one that mankind will regret as time passes. Biodiversity is both part of the country’s heritage representing millions of years of evolution, and also a potential source for untapped material and cultural wealth (Wilson 1989).

There are many benefits derived from the presence of dams and ponds or reservoirs on river systems. These benefits are often human oriented and include hydroelectric production, domestic water supply, flood control, recreational opportunities and aesthetics. Dams and their associated mill ponds are often cherished by local communities because of their historical significance and contribution to a sense of community identity. Fish and wildlife communities can also benefit as the pond and flooded wetland area offer a diversity of productive habitats. However, current ecological research clearly indicates that the increase in habitat types not natural to the river system and its riparian communities can have an overall negative impact on the flora and fauna native to that watershed (Shuman 1995).

The environmental impacts of existing dams on river ecosystems have been extensively studied (e.g. Baxter 1977, Binger et al 1978, Baxter and Glaude 1980, Chisolm 1994, WDNR 1995, Doppelt et al 1993, Naiman et al 1994, and Shuman 1995). Among the better known ecological changes as a result of the damming of rivers, as adapted from Shuman (1995) and Stanford et al (1996), include:

• alteration of temperature and flow regimes in the river upstream and downstream from the dam,

• obvious loss of flowing water habitat (river) and replacement with standing water (pond) habitat in the impounded area,

• interruption of fish and wildlife movements along the valley system,

• alteration of the aquatic community (including fish and invertebrates) upstream and downstream from the dam,

• disruption of genetic exchange among populations inhabiting the valleylands and river (plant, wildlife and fisheries),

• alteration in the dynamic delivery and flow of energy and nutrients because of entrapment by the impoundment, and

• the loss of floodplain habitat and the lateral connectivity between the river and adjacent lowland habitats.

An important difference between the biological communities of streams and impounded pond systems is the source of energy needed to maintain them. The communities of standing water systems rely for the most part on the solar inputs and photosynthesis. In streams, the ultimate energy source is the allochthonous materials (e.g. leaf litter) which is metabolized (assimilated) (Baxter 1977). This is a fundamental difference which disrupts both energy and nutrient cycles within the riverine system.

Historically river corridors were an integral part of the settlement of many parts of North America. Since those pioneering days North Americans have attained the dubious distinction of being a world leader in the building and technology of dams. In recent years there has been a dramatic decline in dam building, in part because of the success of the program. Many of the continents free-flowing systems had already been dammed. River systems and their associated valleylands and rich riparian communities have suffered incredible losses. Today the decline in dam building can also be related to public resistance to the enormous cost of building and maintaining dams, and the growing public awareness of the profound environmental degradation that dams can cause (Devine 1995). Currently in Ontario both the MNR and many Conservation Authorities have specific policies or guidelines against the creation of new on-line (in stream) ponds due to negative environmental impacts and riparian conflicts. In North America conservation and restoration of rivers is being recognized as an issue of national priority for responsible governments (Stanford et al 1996).

In general, threats to fish and fish habitat are many and include; depletion by fishing, deterioration of water quality, and threats from the introduction of exotic species. By far the most serious threats, because fish have little or no natural protective response, are the disruption of water flow and the loss of habitat (Beverton 1992). Dams have been recognized as one of the most significant obstacles to restoring the integrity of riverine systems (WDNR 1995).

A preliminary investigation into the number of dams in southern Ontario indicated that there were probably well over 3000 dams in 1971 (Allin 1973). The majority of which were small, unapproved and privately owned. Approximately sixty percent (60%) of these were concentrated in sensitive headwater tributaries. In the Humber River watershed, ponds and dams exert a tremendous negative effect on the watershed. In 1971 over 661 ponds and lakes were inventoried in the watershed (Wainio and Hester 1973). The cumulative effects of these, perceived as small modifications to aquatic habitats, can have a serious effect on both local, regional, and Great Lakes fisheries (Burns 1991). The topic of dam construction or more importantly re-construction, maintenance and removal will increasingly become an important watershed management, environmental, recreational, and social issue for regulatory agencies and an informed public.

For remedial projects focusing on the environmental impacts of dams, a restoration protocol should be derived from the principles of river ecology (Stanford et al 1996). Some recovery of functional attributes is seen as distance from a dam increases, and can also be related to the mode of dam operation. As such, dam operations and structures can be modified to offset or mitigate some of the negative impacts.

A general protocol for the restoration of regulated rivers as suggested by Stanford et al (1996) requires:

• restoring peak flows to reconnect floodplain habitats,

• stabilizing base flows to re-vitalize food webs in shallow water and downstream habitats,

• reconstituting seasonal temperature patterns,

• maximizing dam passage (e.g. removal, partial removal, by-pass) to allow recovery of fish populations, and

• instituting an adaptive management approach that relies on natural self sustaining habitat restoration, as opposed to artificial engineering and active management.

In some cases the ultimate restoration of a watershed to its aboriginal state is not always expected, possible or desired, due to man’s current expectations and role in the ecosystem. However, rehabilitation of a large portion of the lost capacity of free flowing dynamic river systems to sustain native biodiversity and bioproduction, is possible by management for processes that sustain riverine habitat conditions. The restoration costs may be less than expected because the river can do much of the work (Stanford et al 1996).


Allin, J.T. 1973. Report on private dam construction in southern Ontario. Ministry of Natural Resources.

Baxter, R.M. 1977. Environmental effects of dams and impoundments. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 8:255-283.

Baxter, R.M. and P. Glaude. 1980. Environmental Effects of Dams and Impoundments in Canada: Experience and Prospects. Canadian Special Publications of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Bull. No. 205. Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, Scientific Publications Branch, Ottawa, Canada.

Beverton, R.J.H. Fish Resources; Threats and Protection. Netherlands Journal of Zoology 42(2-3): 139-175 (1992).

Binger, W.V., Buehler, J.P., Clarke, F.J., DeLuccia, E.R., Harza, D.R., Jansen, R.B., Peters, J.C., Thomas, M.F., and W.L. Chadwick. 1978. Environmental Effects of Large Dams. Report by the Committee on the Environmental Effects of the United States Committee on Large Dams. Published by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Burns, D.C. 1991. Cumulative Effects of Small Modifications to Habitat - American Fisheries Society Position Statement. Fisheries, Vol 16(1):12-17.

Chisolm, I. 1994. Environmental Impacts of River Regulation. Minn. Dept. Nat. Res. St. Paul, MN, 31p.

Devine, R.S. 1995. The Trouble with Dams. The Atlantic Monthly August: 64-74.

Doppelt, B., Scarlock, M., Frissel, C., and J. Karr (eds.). 1993. Entering the Watershed: A New Approach to Save America’s River Ecosystems. Pacific Rivers, Island Press, Washington D.C.

Gup, T. 1994. Dammed from here to eternity: dams and biological integrity. Trout Vol. 35: 14-20.

Naiman, R.J., Magnuson, J.J., McKnight, D.M., and J.A. Stanford. 1995. The Freshwater Imperative - A Research Agenda. Island Press, Washington D.C.. 165p.

Shuman, J.R. 1995. Environmental Considerations for Assessing Dam Removal Alternatives for River Restoration. In Regulated Rivers: Research and Management (11):249-261.

Wainio, A. and B. Hester. 1973. The Fish of the Humber River Watershed. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 112p.

Wilson, E.O. 1989. Threats to Biodiversity, Scientific American. Vol 261(3):108-116. Scientific American, Inc.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). 1995. Wisconsin’s Biodiversity as a Management Issue: A Report to the Department of Natural Resource Managers. Madison, Wisc. #RS-91595.

About the Speaker: Ian Buchanan is an OMNR biologist for the Greater Toronto Area with a particular interest in aquatic ecology, focusing on stream rehabilitation, fluvial geomorphology and watershed planning.

River Information Management System

Chaidih Chang describes an exciting computer program being developed by the Large River Ecosystem Unit of the OMNR to effectively manage physical, biological, and chemical information on rivers in N.E. Ontario and around the world.

The objective of the River Information Management System (RIMS) project is to develop a user-friendly, multimedia, GIS-based system to effectively manage physical, biological, and chemical information pertaining to rivers in N.E. Ontario. By making river information readily accessible, the RIMS will be used by resource planners, managers, and stakeholders making decisions on activities related to river ecosystem management; and by river scientists conducting scientific studies including modeling and monitoring programs. The RIMS is a timely, relevant, innovative, and practical tool to support the needs of the MNR’s external/internal clients in the management of Ontario’s rivers.

The RIMS is designed to link the following five major components:

1. analyzed geo-referenced river information,

2. geographic information system (GIS),

3. multimedia techniques such as sound, video, photo, map, chart, text, and table as illustrated in the Figure 2,

4. simulation models such as hydrologic, hydraulic, and fish habitat models, and

5. users.

Various types of river information contained in the RIMS will include water quantity, water quality, sediment, channel geometry, substrate materials, fish and invertebrate information, and water crossing sites. The RIMS will be built on the top of ArcView GIS software which provides the power to visualize, explore, query, and analyze data spatially. MS Visual Basic and ArcView Avenue object-oriented languages will be used to build graphical user interfaces to link the above five components.

Currently, a prototype of RIMS has been developed by the Large River Ecosystem Unit (LREU) of MNR, and is now available for demonstration purposes. The construction of RIMS version 1.0 is underway and will be completed in 1998. Also, plans are underway to integrate the RIMS with a spatial indexing application called the Moose River Basin Information Management System (MR BIMS) which is under development by the Environmental Information Partnership (EIP) of the Moose River Basin. This will provide the template for a watershed-based information management system that may have broader application across the province.

About the Speaker: Dr. Chiadih Chang has a Ph. D. (University of Calgary 1992) in Water Resources Engineering, and is currently working as a hydrologist for the Large River Ecosystem Unit (LREU) Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in Ontario: history, distribution, and conservation

Joanne DiMaio presents her work with this interesting Family, its history, distribution, and conservation; and what we can learn from it.

Recently, there has been increasing concern over the conservation status of freshwater mussels (Unionidae) (Allan and Flecker 1993, Bogan 1993, Williams et al. 1993, Oldham 1994). There have been drastic declines in species abundance and diversity of unionids in both the United States and Canada with over 70% of species identified as being extinct, endangered, threatened, or of special concern (Allan and Flecker 1993, Williams et al. 1993). Declines have also been observed in mussel populations around the globe (Bogan 1993).

The primary cause identified as being responsible for unionid decline is habitat destruction ranging from damming, dredging, and channelization to contamination and siltation (Williams et al. 1993). Historically, unionids were decimated when they were used commercially in the manufacture of buttons and, more recently, as beads in the cultured pearl industry (Williams et al. 1993). They are also threatened by two invading species: the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea) and the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha).

Unionids are freshwater bivalves that burrow in the substrate. Adults range in size from 4 cm to 30 cm (Williams et al. 1993) and are relatively long-lived, with life spans extending from 6 to 100 years, depending on the species (McMahon 1991). Those species found in southwestern Ontario live about 15 years on average (Heller 1990). Individuals do not reach maturity until they are about six years of age (McMahon 1991). Mussels experience a relatively low effective fecundity with 2 ´ 105 to 1.7 ´ 107 young (glochidia) released per average adult per breeding season but only about 0.002 to 0.17 juveniles from each female's annual reproductive effort successfully settle in the sediment (McMahon 1991).

In unionids, eggs are fertilized internally by sperm brought in by water currents (McMahon 1991). After a period of development, fully formed glochidia are released from the exhalant siphon (McMahon 1991). Unionids rely on fish for dispersal since the glochidia are parasitic and attach to the gills, fins, and/or scales of fish (McMahon 1991). After a period of encystment (from 6 to 160 days, depending on the species (McMahon 1991)), the glochidia drop off as free-living juveniles and begin their life in the substrate. Factors such as an extended life span, delayed maturity, and poor juvenile survivorship make unionids susceptible to human perturbation (McMahon 1991).

Many studies have identified physical factors thought to influence the distribution of unionid species. These have often been of a microhabitat nature, that is, occurring at the level of the site (e.g., substrate type, current velocity, water depth). Microhabitat variables are useful at describing general mussel habitat characteristics but have low predictive power. For example, Fusconaia flava is found in mud or sand (Clarke 1981) but if a site contains this substrate type, it does not mean this species will occur at the site.

Macrohabitat (drainage basin scale) variables (e.g., surface geology, land use) have been used to predict the distribution of unionids on a large scale with some success. Strayer (1983, 1993) was able to predict mussel distribution using stream size and the hydrologic regime in southeastern Michigan and the northern Atlantic slope. Strayer and Ralley (1993) advocate a macrohabitat approach to predicting the distribution of freshwater mussels in streams.

As a macrohabitat variable, hydrological variability can be useful in predicting unionid distributions. Since mussels are long-lived and can be expected to remain in the same river through their life, they must endure and respond to the flow variability they encounter. Distribution differences of mussels have been observed in other regions (Strayer 1983, 1993) associated with contrasts in stream hydrology.

Using a recent classification of Great Lakes tributaries according to their flow variability (Richards 1990), I examined the unionid community of several rivers in Southwestern Ontario. I found that there were specific species associated with event (hydrologically variable) and stable (hydrologically stable) rivers (Di Maio and Corkum 1995). This information can be important when assessing the habitat characteristics of species and in directing efforts at mussel conservation.

About the Speaker: Joanne DiMaio, M.Sc. (University of Windsor), is an aquatic biologist, involved in numerous Ontario stream projects, a speacialist in stream macro invertebrates, in particular the distribution of freshwater mussels (Unionids) in Ontario.

Stream Partnerships for the 21st Century

Fred C. Dobbs examines Nottawasaga Watershed stream rehabilitation case studies and provides insights into fund raising and creative partnership building.

Developing effective partnerships is an essential component of a successful stream rehabilitation project. A wide range of public interest groups are sufficiently interested in clean water, aquatic habitat and a healthy environment to become involved in stream improvement work and watershed management. Differences in perspective however between various groups (e.g. consumptive and non-consumptive users of the resource, advocates for resident versus migratory fish management), often limit our ability to build successful partnerships. This presentation examined various stream rehabilitation case studies from the Nottawasaga River Watershed and provided insights into opportunities for fund raising and creative partnership building. Incorporating volunteer involvement into monitoring programs and carefully documenting and reporting project goals, milestones and progress are critical components of effective partnership development and maintenance.

About the Speaker: Fred C. Dobbs, B.Sc. in Fisheries Biology (University of Guelph, 1986), was project biologist for Grand River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, habitat biologist for Collingwood Harbour RAP, and rainbow trout biologist with MNR. He is now fisheries biologist at Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.

Snake River Project: Wetlands, Woodlands and Wildlife Partnerships

Bob Dobson gives highlights of this project and also a number of his own farm environmental projects over the past 20 years.

Sustainability in the Face of Strict Environmental Regulations

For the most part, we in the Ontario agricultural community have tried to be proactive in our approach to our natural resources and environmental sustainability.

I feel that if we continue the co-operative voluntary approach, then legislation and regulation become necessary only as an option of last resort.

In most instances in the past, heavy handed legislation has only resulted in landowner tension and backlash and has had a negative effect on the success of any program. This type of legislation seems to be contrary to our government's commitment to sustainable agriculture and solutions to environmental conservation. Legislation and regulations are often ineffective and counterproductive. Take for example The Federal Endangered Species Legislation. I had a neighbour tell me the other day if he ever found one of these endangered species on his property, he would promptly get rid of it rather than run the risk of someone from the government coming in and telling him what he could or could not do with is land. Even though most endangered species are located in rural areas, there has been little or no attempt to involve rural landowners and farmers in the discussions and decisions regarding this program. There has clearly been lack of buy-in for most of the Federal Endangered Species programs in North America when the major shareholder is not involved other than being expected to go out of our way at our own expense to enhance someone else's recovery program. Involvement right from the start and ownership of this program is sadly lacking. In my mind, legislation is never a preferable option and let's face it, with all levels of government running out of funds these days, there just is no money for policing and enforcement. On private land the willing cooperation of the most important stakeholder, the owner of the land, is vital to the success of any program.

Most farms and ranches are family owned and have been managed sustainably for several generations. Most cattle producers I know value wildlife and the environment in which they live and work. As an industry, we've made some mistakes in the past but as much as any group in society, I believe we are at the forefront of implementing environmentally friendly practices.

I believe there are many ways for us to continue viable farm operations and also be good environmental stewards. For example, on my own farm I try to bring what I believe is a balanced approach to my farming activities and the environment. You might ask why I began to consider the environment in my farm operation. The answer, which really did not (originally) have a lot do with the environment, simply came down to necessity. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, I was often left short of water for my cattle on pasture. The number of cattle had increased and, as a result, the creek running through my property could not meet this demand. That meant three to five weeks each summer with no water. To solve this problem, I fenced the cattle out of the main portion of the creek and designed a gravity-fed water system. (Total cost $3200.00 including the fence). This was the last year I was short of water and now it would allow me to keep ten times the number of cattle throughout the entire summer. It has also allowed me to improve my pasture management practices. The health of the herd improved. We have less incidence of foot rot, pinkeye and coccidiosis. And, the environment benefits as well. The water leaving the farm is now much cleaner as it enters Snake River and eventually the Ottawa River.

We also began planting trees almost 20 years ago and we continue to plant approximately 500 trees annually. Research has indicated that this practice can be very beneficial with increased crop yields due to the moisture retention of the trees, less wind action and fewer problems from pests and insects. The trees provide a home for many birds and they, in turn, control the insects. Although I have no controlled study on my farm to prove that the cattle achieve greater gains with the cleaner water, some studies tend to support this.

Some of the less tangible benefits these environmental improvements have brought to our farm is the enjoyment of seeing a family of ducks on the cattle reservoir pond in the spring or the red foxes that sit for hours by the side of the hayfield we're cutting, waiting for groundhogs and mice to appear.

For the most part, I've tried to implement management practices based on financially sound decisions given consideration that the practice is also environmentally sound. I believe that if I manage my farm as a whole ecosystem, then not only does the environment benefit, but also the whole farm, including the livestock. The bottom line is my farm can only be socially, ecologically and economically sound and sustainable over time if it is managed as a whole.

A larger project that I've been personally involved in over the past four years as a project coordinator, is a partnership project between the Ontario Cattlemen's Association (OCA) and the Ontario Federation of Angers and Hunters (OFAH) demonstrating sustainable agriculture and wildlife practices on farms in the Snake River watershed area of Renfrew County. The project, known as the Snake River Wetlands/Woodlands/Wildlife Project (W-3 Snake River for short), is funded by our federal government in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This voluntary program is managed by a branch of Environment Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, but most decisions are made by our two grass roots provincial organizations OCA and OFAH in cooperation with a local working committee comprised of agriculture and wildlife interests.

Actually, W-3 Snake River is only one of two Wetland/Woodlands/Wildlife partnership projects between OCA and OFAH. The other being in Northumberland County just north of Lake Ontario, roughly the same size and scope of W-3 Snake River and known as W-3 Cold Creek.

These projects provide financial incentives to local farmers to demonstrate land practices that are beneficial to fish and wildlife habitat and agricultural production. A main focus of W-3 Snake River was pasture management for improved production and improved fish and wildlife habitat. Over the four year project, W-3 Snake River demonstrates that fencing and alternate watering systems can increase pasture production while protecting streams, wetlands and woodland habitat. Other work done under W-3 Snake River included tree planting for erosion control and wildlife habitat and the placement of nesting boxes for a variety of wildlife.

Area anglers have been concerned about the declining lake trout and hopefully this project will address at least one of the sources of lake trout decline. Over the last 20 years, nutrient loading from a variety of sources, including agriculture, residential and cottages, is thought to have influenced the decline of late summer lake trout habitat.

The W-3 Snake river project brought together many people and resources.

• Under the project, over 5 miles of permanent fencing to restrict cattle access to watercourses was installed.

• Cattle access was restricted on 12 separate farm projects, 11 alternate watering systems were installed.

• Over 5 miles of stream banks have been buffered against livestock access.

• Approximately 100 acres of wetland/woodland habitat has been enhanced.

• Over 100 acres of riparian and wetland habitat has been set aside.

• Over 500 people have toured W-3 Snake River projects.

• Over 100 individuals have volunteered their time to the project.

• 5900 native trees and shrubs have been planted through W-3 Snake River.

We have had requests from a number of other farmers to participate in this program, but due to our fixed budget, had to limit the projects to 14 individual farms.

I believe these types of projects are a unique opportunity for us in agriculture to work with other groups right across the spectrum, finding common ground for the benefit of all. An interesting aspect of working on these projects was the diverse skills and different perspectives each group brought to our working committee.

I'd like to quote Dr. Terry Quinney, OFAH provincial co-ordinator of fish and wildlife services: "In this province, farm and wildlife interests are one and the same - they inhabit much of the same space. And farmers are the stewards of the heart of southern Ontario's habitat. It's a natural marriage that creates benefits for everyone. The only kinds of environmental initiatives that work well are those that benefit everyone. In order to ensure that wetlands, woodlands and wildlife resources are improved, there have to be real business benefits to farmers". In my opinion, this statement speaks volumes about why this project was a success.

I feel that these types of projects will allow cattlemen to be showcased as good stewards of the land while maintaining or improving production from existing land. Cattlemen and other farmers are interested in protecting water quality and wildlife habitat, however, we have farms to operate and bills to pay. Solutions must take into account these realities and with increasing global competition, we in North America have to squeeze more dollars from our farms just to survive.

Another very major initiative undertaken by a coalition of Ontario farm groups 4 years ago is our Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program. This program helps increase our awareness and knowledge of environmental resources and builds competitiveness and strength in our industry. The idea for EFP's originated in the Ontario farm community and farmers have been involved in every stage of developing the Plans. Basically, EFP's are documents voluntarily prepared by farm families giving us the opportunity to rate our current level of environmental concern in up to 23 different areas of our farms. Workshops are organized and delivered locally by the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association with technical direction provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

I feel the EFP is an excellent way to mark our own report card and rate all our farm activities environmentally. The goal of the EFP program is to help develop a practical plan for operating our farms in a way that is environmentally responsible.

The acceptance of our EFP further demonstrates that farmers are doing their part to improve the environment. To date, over 6000 individual farmers have made their own commitment by actively participating in the EFP exercise.

Don't get me wrong, we've not solved all the problems. There continue to be many challenges, but agriculture's efforts have continually evolved over time. Our concern for the land and animals has been and continues to be an evolving process directed by science and necessity. So, while regulations may keep bureaucrats busy and activists happy (at least temporarily,) in practice they have done little to further concerns they were purportedly designed to address.

We in Canada are fortunate to still have relative freedom to apply new knowledge and new ideas in our effort to find winning solutions to genuine concerns. The Canadian approach of keeping our options open benefits all members of society. It also benefits the land and animals in our care by allowing the needs, desires and ability of individuals to determine and strive for the best practical solutions (as in the EFP process).

Farm environmentalism has moved far and fast in the last few years in the absence of heavy handed regulations. However, I do believe there are some situations where regulation may be necessary and desirable. But in principle, we in agriculture share the belief that the more successful approach to encouraging land and environmental stewardship will involve research, education, consultation, information sharing, individual initiative, and encouragement of the environmental ethic. And some concerns will require financial assistance to overcome substantial economic hurdles. Regulation is no substitute for the farmer-helping-farmer approach to environmental responsibility.

I am concerned with the public perception of modern agriculture and public image and how this is conveyed to the public. I find it very distressing and disturbing when I hear some of the inaccurate and misleading statements in the media today. Special interests - political, social and financial - are increasingly more successful in gaining attention to their campaign. We in Canada know only too well what a well managed attack on the Newfoundland seal industry did to public perception, the local economy and a way of life. We in agriculture need to remain ever vigilant of the many radical movements which have sprung up in North America over the past 10 years or so.

While respecting each other's personal values and beliefs, we need to better and honestly inform the general public and the media, helping them understand the complex issues facing us today. By doing this, we may take some of the wind out of the extreme positions and attitudes prevalent in society today. We need to continue to inform our urban neighbours of the very positive initiatives and projects we have voluntarily undertaken. We need to tell the public about the difference between preservation and conservation of natural resources.

In closing, it is only through our continuing efforts to be good stewards of the land that our farms and way of life will be sustainable well into the future. Our well being is directly related to the environmental life of our farms.

About the Speaker: Bob Dobson, graduated in Agricultural Technology in 1963, now operating a 350-acre beef farm in Renfrew county, and was the 1995 winner of the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.

Stream Work Case Histories

Mike Eckersley reports on wetland and aquatic habitat protection, management and restoration. He reviewed aquatic habitat rehabilitation and creation in Eastern Ontario Rivers, looking specifically at;

1) cool water/warm water systems and communities

2) small streams to the St. Lawrence River

3) walleye spawning bed rehabilitation and creation

4) aquatic habitat rehabilitation in the St. Lawrence River littoral zone

Mike Eckersley discussed the successes, failures and lessons learned from experience.

He concludes that for walleye spawning bed rehabilitation projects site-specific rehabilitation has to be put in an ecosystem context. If a system is not broken, it is not necessary to make dramatic changes to it. We need to know more information about walleye, but we do know that spawning walleye and egg deposition generally occurs in areas with velocity of .75 to 1.5 m/sec and depths greater that 30 cm. We also know that eggs need flow through incubation, and that resting areas are critical (pools or structure). Based on walleye spawning preferences and egg collections, it is concluded that the bed material of preference is riverstone, mostly 8 cm to 20 cm. It is important to manage flows in the channel. As with all projects, partnerships are important.

About the Speaker: Mike Eckersley, B.Sc., district and area biologist for OMNR since 1979, his major focus is on wetlands and aquatic habitat protection, management and rehabilitation. He has represented OMNR on St. Lawrence River RAP, and international fisheries and wildlife management groups.

The Impact of the Grand River Trout Fishery on the Local Economy

Dr. John Fitzgibbon and Mr. Alan Smith discuss this model for assessing the impact of expenditures by participants in the sport fishery in the Fergus-Elora section of the Grand River on the local economy.


The economic benefits of sport fishing are enjoyed in many communities, both small and large, throughout Canada. However, policy makers and the general public in these communities often only have vague estimates of the economic contribution of angling on their local rivers and streams. Therefore, lacking data proper planning cannot proceed and communities may not fully realize the economic benefits that can be obtained from their recreational fishing sites. In times of financial restraint and budget cutbacks, communities, especially small rural ones, may not develop local resources which could prove detrimental to their longevity and protection.

Through the use of economic impact analysis this paper has presented a methodology which provides an estimate of direct, indirect and total economic impacts that can be adapted to most rivers and streams, where sport fishing takes place. As an example of utilizing this methodology, it was determined that the economic impact of sport fishing on the upper Grand River for the 1996 fishing season is $1,052,538.46 (based on a 25% weather factor).

About the Speakers: Dr. John Fitzgibbon, is director of the University of Guelph School of Rural Planning and Development, and has helped develop agricultural land policy in Ontario. His many initiatives, include natural channel design, ecological farm planning and the watershed health initiative. Alan Smith, graduated from the University of Guelph School of Rural Planning, and has worked as resource economist and land use planner in both British Columbia and Ontario. He is involved with the Grand River Watershed Report and various community economic development plans.

Fishes of the Grand River

Erling Holm presents a slide show on the identification, distribution, habitat, and biology of some of the most common, interesting and rare fishes which are found in some of Ontario’s rivers.

Originally this presentation was going to be on Ontario's river fishes in general but I decided to focus on the Grand River fauna in particular for a couple of reasons. First this conference is held in the Grand River basin and there are likely many of you who are interested in these fishes. Second the World Wildlife Fund, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Grand River Conservation Authority are providing funds to develop a plan for the recovery of species at risk in the Grand River.

There are six or seven species in the Grand which have been classified by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada or COSEWIC as either vulnerable or threatened because of low or declining numbers and their susceptibility to the effects of human action such as siltation of the water and other forms of habitat destruction or degradation.

This multi-species recovery plan is one of the first such plans in the country and its findings is planned to become part of the overall Fisheries Management Plan for the Grand which is concerned primarily with improvement of fish habitat and water quality.

Perhaps most anglers if asked what fishes are in the Grand River would rhyme off half a dozen species: brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and walleye, the species pictured here.

Most are probably also aware that there are common carp, minnows, suckers, catfish, rock bass, crappies, and sunfish. But I suspect many may be surprised to hear that there are at least 76 different species of fishes that have been documented from the Grand river system. One third of them in the minnow family (Cyprinidae).

Lampetra appendix

There are five species of lampreys in Ontario two of which are non-parasitic. The American brook lamprey has been captured several times in the Grand River and the northern brook lamprey has been reported but not officially confirmed. The American brook lamprey seen here is often found in clear, sandy or rocky-bottomed habitats in association with brook trout.

Lampreys spend most of their life span in a larval or ammocoete stage where they bury themselves in the soft bottom and feed by filtering algae and zooplankton from the water or sediment. After transformation, brook lampreys may survive for up to nine months without feeding after which they spawn and die. They are favoured food of predatory fishes and are thus an important link in the food chain between algae and brook trout.

Dorosoma cepedianum

A member of the herring family which is mostly marine this freshwater herring-the gizzard shad, uses its many fine gill rakers to filter out green algae. It is found in the lower often turbid sections of the river. It has a serrated keel along the ventral edge and the last dorsal ray is elongated. It gets up to half a metre in length. It is often abundant and the juveniles form an important forage base for species such as the walleye.

Salvelinus fontinalis

Three species of trout occur in the Grand and only the brook trout is native. The brook trout is distinguished by a very shallowly forked tail, light spots on the body and ventral fins which have a white leading edge followed by a solid black stripe.

Oncorhynchus mykiss

The rainbow trout has black spots on its body and fins and often has a pinkish hue down the middle of the sides.

Salmo trutta

This juvenile brown trout is easily distinguished from the other trouts by having an orange adipose fin and black and red spots on its body.

tiger trout

Rarely in some streams in Ontario, such as Whiteman's Creek, a rather strikingly patterned trout called the tiger trout is occasionally found. This fish is a hybrid between the brook trout and the brown trout and probably results when unpaired male brook trout sneak in and release sperm during spawning of brown trout. It has occurred in a situation where brown trout is low in abundance relative to the brook trout.

Esox lucius

The northern pike has a distinctive duck-billed shaped snout and can grow up to 133 cm in length and 34 kg although the Canadian angling record is only 19 kg. It occurs throughout the Grand in both reservoirs and streams. The pike lurks in cover and makes sudden dashes to capture its prey of fish, small birds and mammals. They are tolerant of a wide variety of conditions including silty agricultural drains.

Umbra limi

The central mudminnow is related to the pike but is only 1/10th the size. Like the pikes, the dorsal and anal fins are situated relatively far back on the body. It has a similar lurking and lunging feeding behaviour but its diet is primarily invertebrates. It has a rounded caudal fin, often with a black bar at the base of the tail fin and can be quite common in weedy pools of creeks. This particular specimen is covered in black spot. Black spot is a black cyst which the fish creates around a microscopic parasitic nematode.

Catostomus commersoni

Eight species of suckers, five of them redhorses are found in the Grand. The most common sucker in the Grand and everywhere else in Ontario is the white sucker and this is usually the species which we see running up rivers and creeks to spawn in late April and early May. It is a relatively rounded shallow bodied sucker with smaller scales than any of the other seven species.

Moxostoma duquesnei

Suckers are bottom feeders and often eat molluscs which they crush with their throat teeth. The redhorses are very difficult to tell apart and require considerable experience to distinguish. The black redhorse is very rare in Ontario and has been classified as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In Ontario it occurs at the northern fringe of its range but is more common in the States where it is not at risk. Perhaps the biggest Canadian population of black redhorses occurs here in the Grand drainage.

It is very similar and often confused with the golden redhorse also restricted to rivers of southwestern Ontario where it is the most common redhorse as it is more tolerant of muddy water, high temperatures, and intermittent flow. Unlike trout, suckers do not prepare redds, but they lay their eggs among gravelly riffles and provide no protection after spawning. Eggs and newly-hatched larvae require a steady flow of oxygenated water to survive and therefore may be killed by an excess of suspended and deposited silt which clogs the interstices and prevents oxygenated water from reaching the eggs.

Semotilus atromaculatus

There are a total of 25 species of minnows in the Grand system. Minnows or family Cyprinidae represent not only the most diverse group in North America but also one of the most difficult groups to identify. Characters which are used to distinguish the group include head and body shape, pigmentation and fin characteristics. Sometimes it helps to look internally and most of the time a microscope is required to see the fine details of body structure. Field identification of minnows to species is not recommended.

One of the most common cyprinids in the Grand and in much of North America is the creek chub. It has a distinctive spot at the dorsal fin origin, a fairly large mouth and relatively fine scales. The creek chub can grow up to a foot in length and at this size it behaves more like a trout than a minnow and becomes a competitor of brook trout for food and space.

Pimephales notatus

Another very common minnow is the bluntnose minnow. Its high fecundity coupled with its crevice spawning behaviour undoubtedly accounts for its success. The male seen here develops tubercles on its snout which it uses to clean the underside of objects in preparation for egg-laying. After the eggs are laid, the male guards and fans them, removes dead eggs, and protects eggs and newly hatched larvae from predators and siltation.

Clinostomus elongatus

The redside dace has declined throughout its range and is classified in Canada as Vulnerable. It is known from Irvine Creek and surveys this year will establish the current status of this species there. This colourful minnow has a red band on the middle of the sides, fine scales, and a very large mouth. It leaps out of the water to capture terrestrial insects and does well in small streams where the stream shore habitat supports an abundant terrestrial insect population. It also requires a relatively stable water flow to maintain a combination of riffles and shallow pools.

Ameiurus melas

There are five species of catfishes in the Grand. Three bullheads: the black (illustrated here), the brown and the yellow. The other two are madtoms-small catfishes with an adipose fin which is attached to the caudal fin. The three bullheads are often confused. The black bullhead is distinguished from the other two by having black instead of dark grey fin membranes, a pectoral spine with weak barbs and it often has a pale bar at the base of the tail. It is more tolerant of silty situations than the other two and is the common species in the highly polluted Welland River.

Noturus flavus

The stonecat is the largest madtom and is found in riffles of streams. It has also been captured in lakes and can get up to about a foot in length. It can be distinguished from other madtoms by colour pattern and by the arrangement of teeth on the roof of the mouth.

Culaea inconstans

The brook stickleback is a common fish of small streams and ponds but has been found as deep as 55 m. It is easily distinguished by having usually five dorsal spines that are not connected by membranes. They prefer heavily weeded water and can tolerate low oxygen conditions. The male builds a tubular nest of dead and living plant material using secretions from its kidney. Females are lured in to spawn and each one is driven away after eggs have been laid. The male continues to care for the eggs and newly hatched larvae until the young are ready to leave the nest.

Micropterus dolomieu

The smallmouth bass is found in lakes and the slower parts of streams reaching a size of 69 cm, a weight of 6.4 kg, and 18 years of age. It is in the sunfish family along with the largemouth bass from which it differs by colour pattern and mouth size. The maxillary never extends past the posterior margin of the eye. The smallmouth is found in more rocky situations than the largemouth.

Micropterus salmoides

The largemouth bass reaches a larger size than smallmouth and is distinguished by its colour pattern and larger mouth size. Individuals greater than six inches have the maxillary extending past the posterior margin of the eye. The black lateral band on a paler background distinguishes the largemouth from the smallmouth. It prefers warmer, more weedy situations tolerating temperatures up to 38°C.

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Also in the sunfish family are the crappies. Both the white and black crappie occur in the Grand and they can be distinguished by body depth, colour pattern and the number of dorsal fin spines. This is the black crappie. It has a deeper body and 7-8 dorsal spines whereas the white crappie has only 6 dorsal spines and has a more barred colour pattern. The black crappie prefers cooler and less turbid water than the white crappie.

Lepomis cyanellus

Besides the more common pumpkinseed and bluegill, the Grand also contains two less common species of sunfishes. The green sunfish has a large mouth and, shorter pectoral fins. It is tolerant of more turbid conditions and appears to be expanding its range in Ontario.

Lepomis megalotis

The other uncommon sunfish in the Grand is the longear. It is distinguished by its long earflap and, like the green sunfish, has relatively short rounded pectoral fins. It is intolerant of silt and may be declining in the Grand River

Labidesthes sicculus

The brook silverside is found in schools in large rivers and lakes. Young fish stay below the surface and in deep areas. Larger fish stay in shallow areas.

They feed off flying insects and spiders that land on water. It can leap as high as 10 X it's body length. Maximum age is two but most fish die after spawning a year after being born. Growth is 0.4 mm a day and full size is attained in 3 months. They are fragile fish and difficult to maintain alive once captured.

Perca flavescens

Yellow perch are a distinctive easily recognized fish found in lakes, ponds and rivers often where there is vegetation. Most active during the day it feeds on insects and other fishes and may hunt in packs. It is a major food for walleyes but walleye prefer shiners if they are present. Its high rate of reproduction and competition for food often results in stunted populations. It has been know to reach over a half metre in size and 21 years of age.

Etheostoma caeruleum

There are nine species of darters in the Grand and one of the more common species in the basin is probably Ontario's most beautiful fish. It is the most common darter in the riffles. The male rainbow darter in spawning colours is bright blue and orange whereas the juveniles and females are more drably coloured. The rainbow darter spawns in clear riffles on a gravel rubbly bottom. Males fight for and defend areas on the riffles with the larger more brightly coloured males getting the best territories.

Females ready to spawn bury the ventral portion of their bodies in the gravel which stimulates the males to mount them. Eggs are left unattended in the gravel. With the sexual activities of the rainbow darter so dependent on vision, turbidity will stop spawning. Also the eggs and larvae in the gravel require a steady flow of oxygenated water which is dependent on keeping the interstitial spaces of the gravel free from silt.

Two darters have been recently discovered in the Grand. One or them, the eastern sand darter, is threatened throughout its range. It requires clean sandy bottoms and good water quality. Siltation caused by erosion has reduced or eliminated this species from many river systems in Ontario, Quebec and in the rest of its range in the USA.

The other darter recently discovered and apparently expanding rapidly in distribution is the greenside darter. It is found in fairly fast flowing water where the bottom consists of boulder and rubble often with attached vegetation such as filamentous algae where it will lays its eggs.

Two species of sculpins occur in the Grand. The mottled is the more common one, tolerating warmer temperatures that the slimy sculpin which occurs in colder water in streams that are suitable for brook trout.

Aplodinotus grunniens

The freshwater drum occurs in the slower parts of the river. It can be distinguished by the larger second anal spine and the lateral line which extends out on the rounded or pointed caudal fin. It can reach a length of 1.2 m and a weight of almost 28 kg. It uses its throat teeth to crush molluscs and is one of the species which may control the zebra mussels. The male makes a drumming sound during courtship which can be heard above water. Females can have as many as 686,000 eggs which float on the surface after fertilization.

Neogobius melanostomus

A species not yet recorded from the Grand but one to be on the watch for is the round goby. It has pelvic fins which are joined together to form a sucking cup and the round goby has a distinct spot on the dorsal fin. It competes for food and spawning areas with the sculpin and has replaced the sculpin in the St. Clair River where it was first discovered.

For those who would like to learn more about fish identification we hold identification workshops every year at the ROM. If you are interested grab me and give me your name and I will put you on our mailing list for upcoming workshops.

The Grand River system has a rich fish fauna and the care takers of this system are concerned about maintaining that diversity. Much of the information we have on the species in the Grand has been restricted to the more common game species but attention is now also being given to the smaller less known fishes which are themselves interesting and which form an important ecological role in sustaining those species that are of interest to the angler.

About the Speaker: Erling Holm, is Curatorial Assistant in the Ichthyology Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum. He has worked extensively with Ontario fishes, and is experienced with South American and Indo-Pacific species.

Great Lakes United (Recent Findings on Water Levels in the Great Lakes)

John Jackson talks about water quantity issues, focusing on the stresses and conflicts which arise.


Ever fluctuating Great Lakes water levels are at near-record high levels this spring. This combined with the vast quantities of waters in the Great Lakes deceive us into thinking that we have limitless supplies of water that will last forever. But scientists are warning us that, if current trends continue, in less than forty years the flow from the Great Lakes system into the St. Lawrence River will have been reduced by one-quarter. This drop in water levels is based on currently projected growth rates in water consumption and the projected impacts if climate change occurs at the rate most scientists are now predicting. This drop does not take into account the compounding impact that diversions out of the Great Lakes could have on the levels and flows out of the Lakes.

Twelve years ago, the Great Lakes governors and premiers signed the Great Lakes Charter. The purpose of this agreement was to strengthen the ability of the Great Lakes states and provinces to collectively and individually protect their shared water resources. Unfortunately, the charter has failed to achieve its original intent. The governments in the Great Lakes basin still act primarily in their own narrow, short-term self-interest.

While the governments sit by, pressures on the waters of the Great Lakes increase. Our per capita water consumption is still the highest in the world. Growth continues to sprawl outward from our urban centers, wastefully consuming ever more water. Consumption of water by agriculture grows, having now become the largest consumptive use in the Great Lakes basin.

Water is increasingly becoming a commodity to be bought and sold. Private sector companies are trying to gain control over water supply and treatment systems. Free trade agreements threaten to remove the ability of governments to control the waters within their borders. Under free trade, once we turn the tap on, we cannot turn it off.

And climate change threatens to dramatically change the levels and flows of the waters in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin.

If we allow these changes to occur, the Great Lakes will be very different from the home we now live in. Our health, our cultures and our economies will all be substantially changed. The impacts on fish, birds and wildlife will be even more dramatic. Reduced lake levels will result in the loss of wetlands, which will dry out and fill in with grasses. This loss of habitat will affect every species reliant on the wetlands for their homes. Warmer water temperatures will result in the loss of cold water fish. Water quality will decrease. Human health problems will increase. Crop damage will rise. Ships will not be able to carry as much cargo, increasing shipping costs. Industries reliant on the abundant waters of the Great Lakes, including breweries, the chemical industry, and hydropower generation operations, will by hurt.

Water use conflicts will also escalate. Fights over who controls the use of water and who makes decisions that affect levels and quantities of water have been common throughout the history of the Great Lakes. Serious conflicts regularly occur among the hydroelectric power industry, downstream users of water such as harbour operators, tourism, residents along the shorelines, and agricultural users of water. Unfortunately, when decisions affecting water quantity and levels are made, the users given the least attention are wildlife and plants. They are the least able to adapt to sudden changes in the way water flows through the Great Lakes system, yet their voices are the quietest.

We must develop policies on actions affecting levels and flows on the basis of the following principles:

* We must protect all parts of the ecosystem, including the fish, birds, animals and wetlands.

* We must learn from the wisdom of the First Peoples of the Great Lakes and recognize their rights.

* We must live within the capacity of the waters naturally available within the watersheds where we live.

* We must take into account the interconnections between water quantity and water quality problems.

The waters of the Great Lakes are the vital lifeblood that bring life to all the inhabitants of the Great Lakes ecosystem. These waters are also the spiritual force that bring added meaning to our lives. We must enjoy them, respect them, and live in harmony with them and all their other residents as responsible members of this amazing community.

About the Speaker: John Jackson, past president of Great Lakes United, a coalition of 200 organizations representing citizens, environmentalists, conservationists, hunter and anglers, and labour from Canada, the U.S. and the First Nations.

Beneath the Surface: Pattern and Process in River Communities

Ian Martin presents an overview of biological communities in running water, with examples of the effects of human activity.

River communities (the assemblage of species populations occurring together in space and time) have complex interrelationships within themselves and with the physical environment. Together, the community and the environment form the river ecosystem.

Before river communities were commonly studied, most manipulations of the environment and biota were in the form of disturbances and degradations - pollution, channelization, damming and dewatering. As we begin to recognize the patterns in river communities and accept their intrinsic value, we naturally proceed to investigations of the physical and biological processes that have produced these patterns. It is a small step from there to "tinkering" with the processes in river ecosystems to "improve" them.

"When you've got a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

With our limited understanding and a small array of "tools" I would like to sound a note of caution before we move too quickly to customize river communities to the needs of end users. The tools we have available for managing rivers are crude things, effective in the right situation, but potentially harmful when misapplied.

Africa has a recent history of massive dam building, usually touted as beneficial to the development of the local populace through the creation of electric power and water for irrigation. Yet dam construction with these good intentions has lead to various unintended consequences, such as the collapse of the sardine fishery in the Mediterranean Sea (through loss of silt exported from the Nile), and epidemic blindness affecting millions of people (through creation of ideal conditions for transmission of a parasitic worm by black flies). Let us first understand some of the complexity of river communities before we overconfidently use these potentially valuable tools for altering river communities.

Physical Environments, Biological Communities, and Emergent Properties.

Clearly, physical processes affect the river community. Together, climate, geology, and resultant physiography will be strong determinants of the amount and seasonality of water supply, as well as its chemical composition and temperature. These factors set physical limits within which the organisms of both the stream and terrestrial communities must survive - e.g., if it's too hot, the fish will die. Within this range however, the effects of the physical processes are "grist" for a powerful, biological "mill".

The interplay of community processes (food webs, competition, predation, dispersal and colonization) with the physical processes mentioned above, result in patterns that can be unexpected from simple consideration of individual processes. These unexpected results are considered "emergent properties" of ecosystems. Our knowledge of the interaction of biotic and physical processes is poor, and even simple changes may have unexpected consequences. A useful analogy is that of the mixture of ingredients used in baking a cake: flour, eggs, sugar, oil, baking powder. Analysis of the flavour and texture of each of these ingredients alone will not allow you to predict the taste and texture of the cake, because the ingredients interact to produce emergent properties - in this case, the cake.

River Community Classification and Food Webs

The studies of river communities over the past few decades have yielded much valuable information, but confirmed that these communities are much more complex than we originally thought. In particular, river communities are generally more complex than lake communities, mainly because of the importance of detritus (leaf) based energy sources in small streams and the export of this material to the lower reaches of the river. Photosynthetic energy sources (green plants and algae) are less important in most northern hemisphere streams than was previously believed. The balance between heterotrophic, detritus-based energy and autotrophic energy from photosynthesis has profound effects on the patterns we observe in different reaches of the same stream. Where large particles of detritus (e.g., leaves) are the main energy source, the macroinvertebrate community will be dominated by animals that function as shredders, whereas grazers will dominate where photosynthesis is the dominant energy source. Collector invertebrates feed on the small, dead particles produced by the actions of both shredders and grazers.

Rivers originating in forested northern hemisphere catchments undergo community change in a fairly predictable fashion as they flow downstream, thanks in large part to the understanding of this river food web. This predictable change allows classification of river communities and has become known as The River Continuum Concept. It is not perfect, but is a useful conceptual framework for considering the effects of natural and human induced processes and the community patterns that result.

Tinkering with River Communities: informed approach; modest ambitions

I would suggest we should use our limited knowledge of river communities in a cautious fashion, as tools to restore degraded systems and ameliorate effects of pollution, without expectations of always-remarkable, positive effects. These tools are blunt, and will not always work. It`s rather like using a machete for gall bladder surgery.

An example of restoration of a river community is found in the case of Alberta's Bow River; this relatively infertile mountain river becomes distinctly fertile after flowing through Calgary, where it picks up discharge from municipal sewage treatment plants and from street runoff. The unexpected bonus of this fertility was a major trout fishery. Trout grew quickly on the collector macroinvertebrates and grazers below Calgary, and drew anglers from all over the world. The downside of this fertility was heavy accumulations of macrophytes (rooted aquatic plants) which interfered with water extraction and boat traffic, and caused wild, daily fluctuations in the oxygen content of the water, perhaps to the detriment of juvenile trout.

Attempts to control macrophytes by improved sewage treatment (tertiary treatment with alum to flocculate phosphorus, the major nutrient) met with only limited success, even though bio-available phosphorus in the water was reduced by 75%. It appears that phosphorus exists in a "reservoir" which is the overwintering roots of the plants, and perhaps in the sediments as well. The threshold concentration of phosphorus required for the macrophytes to attain "nuisance" level may be still lower than can be achieved with tertiary sewage treatment. Also, flood control measures on the Bow River have dampened seasonal scouring of the silt beds where these plants grow, so that the plants overwinter better in the Bow than in the neighbouring, unregulated Oldman River (though this river has since become impounded as well).

So, even this logical, well-thought-out plan to control nutrients and macrophytes, while still maintaining a valuable trout fishery, had unexpected results. We must not be overconfident of our understanding of river communities and our ability to modify them in a predictable fashion.

About the Speaker: Ian D. Martin, has a Ph.D. in Stream Ecology. He is a biological consultant and sits on the board of Friends of the Grand River. He is co-author of the widely-praised guide: “Fly Fishing the Grand River”.

River Hydraulics and Fish Habitat

Robert Morris introduces fundamentals of stream dynamics, function and habitat measurement.


The protection and rehabilitation of rivers demands a knowledge of the behavior of water and its interaction with sediments. Rehabilitation is a problem solving exercise to improve fish productivity as an indicator of a stable system. When assessing a system, it is important to identify and isolate the limiting factors when preparing for an efficient work plan. Limiting factors could include water quality, water quantity, food, biotic relations and physical habitat, which includes channel shape, substrate, cover, bank conditions, pool-riffle and flood plain habitat diversity (re: spawning, nursery and adult stages). It is also important to keep scientific objectivity for real versus perceived problems and to separate causes from symptoms. Each river reach should be looked at in a watershed context. Keep in mind that changes to the watershed, can be directly linked to changes in the hydrological cycle.

Stream flow is responsible for the discharge of water and sediment in a balance of dynamic equilibrium (aggradation and degradation). Any change in morphological variables such as width, depth, shape (W/D ratio), channel capacity (WxD), velocity, roughness (substrate load and size, woody/debris, channel banks), gradient and sinuosity will cause concurrent changes in the others. Remember that channel morphological variables are interrelated. Hydraulic laws control the movement of water and sediment most efficiently in terms of energy and work. Discharge is not constant or straight (“3 stage corkscrew”).

Stream flow levels can be identified as Low, bankfull and high flow. Low flow carries minimum flow for a time. Bankfull carries the 1:1.5 year storm, and this stage can be identified in the field by a break in slope, change in vegetation type and root exposure. The floodplain begins at the edge of the bankflull flow level, and is used during high flow. Meandering streams are patterned with a series of pool/riffle sequences. The pattern of pool/riffle sequences can in tern be linked to meander length. Meander length is the distance measured along the centreline of the channel, from one bend to another. If you compare the stream to a wave, the meaner length is equivalent to one wavelength, and is typically equivalent to 7 to 10 channel widths. Pools form typically at stream bends, often opposite of point bars, and are often spaced 5 to 7 channel widths apart. Riffles and runs can be typically found on straighter sections between stream bends. There is a relationship between pool-riffle sequencing, stream gradient and sinuosity. All variables are better understood when classified into “stable” sets that allow prediction and realization of limitations.

Stream rehabilitation through hydraulic manipulations to work WITH water in terms of gradient, sinuosity and width/depth ratios. Planting and woody debris management is important for fine tuning.

Community Involvement

Trish Nash discusses the restoration of D’Aubigny Creek: A community based rehabilitation program.


In the late 1980’s, the D’Aubigny Creek watershed, located in the City of Brantford, was identified as an area for impending development. The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) conducted an inventory and discovered remnant resident self-sustaining trout populations. Although degraded from past landuse practices, D’Aubigny Creek had excellent potential for watershed restoration.

The community was approached to assist in the rehabilitation project; support has been overwhelming. In 1992, community groups joined forces with the GRCA and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) to form the D’Aubigny Creek Environmental Council. The Council’s goals include making a long-term commitment to restore the creek, increasing public awareness of the importance of healthy streams and watersheds, providing “hands on” stream rehabilitation and monitoring opportunities for the community, and securing funding from a variety of sources.

To date, over six kilometers of the stream have been rehabilitated, funding has been secured from a number of foundations and organizations, monitoring and restoration of D’Aubigny Creek has been incorporated into the high school curriculum, and a watershed plan has been completed to guide future development. Community work days, newspaper and television coverage, and interpretive signs have increased public awareness. Stream conditions are improving and trout populations are increasing. This partnership approach to watershed rehabilitation has been recognized by OMNR as a provincial model. The City of Brantford has also recently received an international award based in part on the environmental work completed in the D’Aubigny Creek watershed.

About the Speaker: Trish Nash, is a biologist at the Grand River Conservation Authority. She is responsible for providing technical expertise to ensure proper management of the aquatic ecosystem in the Grand River watershed. Trish developed the GRCA’s Community Aquatic Monitoring and Rehabilitation Program.

Toronto Area Streams in their Pristine State

Henry Regier presents a fascinating methodology for understanding the ecology of Toronto’s streams prior to human alteration.


So far as I know the literature contains no thorough description of any stream in Southern Ontario in its pristine state. Apparently no one has searched land surveyors’ old records or naturalists’ writings to try to piece together such an account. The Pennsylvania archives of the Moravian missionaries, who settled at “New Fairfield” near Delaware on the Thames River nearly two centuries ago, apparently contain quite a lot of information about the ecology of that river, Ä the Moravians liked to report to their home congregations about local natural history.

Another approach to learn what Southern Ontario streams were like some centuries ago is to interpret retrospectively generalizations inferred about pristine streams elsewhere.

A third approach is to apply generalizations about how streams have been modified progressively due to conventional historic development and then to extrapolate backwards from the earliest definitive observations in a particular watershed.

In the present sketch I use an eclectic mix of these three approaches. My purpose is to pique the interest of historically-minded stream ecologists to do a better job of this than I have done so far!

Water as H2O never rests permanently in any of its three phases, Ä liquid, solid ice, or gaseous water vapour. Everybody knows about the water cycle, in which the mobility of liquid water is about half way between that of ice and water vapour. In a river basin, some of the precipitation returns to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration and some ends up temporarily in streams through surface and sub-surface runoff. In pristine regions of Southern Ontario more water flowed to streams under rather than over the surface. Whether the flow occurred above or below the surface, the currents were usually quite gradual. With slow flow the natural chemical, physical and hydrological processes acted to remove particles from the water so that the inflows into streams were generally clear, though they contained beneficial dissolved substances. Surface flows occurred in spring and fall; sub-surface flow occurred year round, Ä thus the inflowing waters were cold.

Water currents in nature are not purely random or simplistically chaotic. Flowing water self-organizes in complex ways, but constrained partly by gravity, hard boundary surfaces, etc. For example, the lateral meanders that a stream creates and the vertical sequence of riffles and pools closely reflect the flow regime that results from the combination of quantity and temperature of the surface and sub-surface flows and the set of physical constraints in the valley. If any of these change due to natural or cultural reasons, the combined meander and riffle pattern changes adaptively. Because natural factors, that influence flows over years and decades, are always changing, the lateral meanders and vertical stream bed profile are always changing, even under natural conditions. But quite slowly.

As water descends from headwaters downstream into larger rivers and then lakes, the ecological association gradually changes. According to the “continuum concept” the sequence of ecological features is quite stereotyped, in a generic way, in a positive state. For example, in small shaded first-order streams the aquatic species all depend on vegetative and animal material that falls or is washed into the stream from the land. In beaver ponds and larger streams enough direct sunlight reaches the water surface in summer to permit filamentous algae, plankton and rooted plants to grow seasonally. This organic material created by photosynthesis in the water permits a new kind of ecological association (autotrophic) to emerge from that in more shaded upstream water (heterotrophic).

In clear shallow waters the ecological association is closely linked to the bottom surface of streams, ponds and lakes. In deeper waters or in turbid shallow waters, especially when enriched by chemical or organic nutrients, a mid-water ecological association may emerge and become ecologically dominant over the bottom organization. This seldom occurred in pristine Southern Ontario waters, apparently, Ä even in the Great Lakes.

All terrestrial and aquatic parts of Southern Ontario were in an “old growth” state under pristine conditions. There were lots of old large trees, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles. Even the aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs and leaches were relatively large. Large organisms seem to have a sense of place in that they are generally “territorial”, whether passively as with big trees or actively as with wolves and brook trout. In aquatic ecosystems the old growth association was closely connected to relatively firm bottom features. Large woody debris was an especially important habitat feature of such old growth conditions.

Because stream temperatures were generally cold to cool year round, the ecological processes in the aquatic system were generally quite slow. All species other than semi-aquatic mammals and birds are cold-blooded and with their body temperature equal to that of their aquatic habitat. Generally the state of ecological processes doubles with an increase of 10 Celsius degrees in their habitat. Thus the rate at 15°C is double that at 5°C, and at 25°C is four times that of 5°C. Because stream water temperatures were generally low, the growth rate of fish, say, was low and individual fish became relatively old before they achieved sexual maturity.

Because liquid water is quite reactive, chemically and physically, it tends to integrate many processes on the terrestrial surfaces of a river basin and what happens to it further upstream in the stream channel and in the surface and sub-surface flows. This is true for both natural and cultural processes.

During the past two centuries our culture has purposely changed many features of our waters and especially our streams. Many more things that we did on land Ä forestry, agriculture, industry, urbanization, recreation Ä had consequences for streams and their ecology. The downstream waters integrated some consequences of anything that was done upstream and on land.

Until river basin conservation practices were undertaken in recent decades, almost everything done by our culture during the past two centuries contributed to a “general distress syndrome” in downstream parts of our aquatic system. Generally the flow regime became far less orderly and came to include violent unnatural flooding and massive erosion and siltation. New kinds of chemicals poisoned many species. The old growth association, closely linked to firm, semi-permanent features of the aquatic habitat, was largely destroyed. The stress dependent association that then emerged contained opportunistic, short-lived species that were not much valued by us. Unknown exotic species often thrived in such degraded habitats.

The continuum feature of pristine waters was disrupted and disconnected. Pollution plugs formed wherever human communities deliberately or carelessly loaded their wastes into streams. Dams and dykes were constructed, which were eventually washed out because they actually helped to intensify the violence of floods, but nevertheless destroyed the continuum.

With respect to productivity of harvestable fish, say, pristine waters are generally not very productive. Fish in old growth, cold aquatic associations grow slowly and are not abundant. They tend to be hungry and strike eagerly at lures. To maintain such a fish association, even in the absence of other cultural practices that degraded the habitat, only no-kill recreational fisheries would have had to be allowed, or artisanal fisheries of low intensity.

In moderately modified aquatic systems a productive open-water association of fish may complement or replace the less productive pristine bottom association. Carefully limited food fisheries may be sustainable in such cases.

During the past decade many waters have become the object of rehabilitation efforts. Key general objectives, often implicit, are to re-establish a full continuum and a thriving bottom association mostly of mature species. This requires shading of small-order streams and fringing with vegetation and developoment-free zones wetlands on larger streams and lakes. On land, water from surface run-off must be directed back into sub-surface run-off to a large extent. A no tolerance policy for emission of harmful chemicals into the habitat must be in force.

Fish hatcheries and fish culture initiatives in our waters generally cause various kinds of harm locally. A no tolerance policy may be called for Ä with respect to loss of excess food downstream, fish wastes and fish escapes, Ä in any waters slated for rehabilitation to or preservation in a quite natural state.

If we want our waters to be less degraded and in a healthy more natural state then we will have to learn to tread softly in the streams and on their shores. Nick Martin, who was once Ontario’s lake trout expert, used to focus down to the level of each footfall, say of an angler or naturalist.

A river is a highly sensitive and responsive thing. Treated badly it transforms into a violent and dangerous thing.

About the Speaker: Dr. Henry Regier, has studied fish associations as indicators of ecosystem quality since 1954. His main focus is on the Great Lakes Basin, but he has also worked elsewhere in North America, in Africa and in Europe.

Tobacco, Trout and Creek Drains: Working Together on the Norfolk Sand Plain

Dave Reid shares his unique experiences in trout population management in the Norfolk Sand Plain.

The former Norfolk County, now the west half of the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk, is historically noted for "numerous spring creeks ... well stocked with speckled trout". Most of this area lies on a geological formation called the Norfolk Sand Plain which is drained by over 100 coldwater streams (first to third order streams) - ie. waters that provide or are capable of supporting a trout population. Besides the native speckled trout (brook char), introduced fish species include the european brown trout (since 1913), rainbow trout (since 1936), and three species of Pacific Salmon (since 1969).

The sand plain acts like a giant sponge - absorbing rainfall quickly and constantly releasing cool groundwater as spring seeps into the many creeks draining the plain. This influx of groundwater is responsible for maintaining base flows and keeping water temperatures cool in summer and ice free in winter. As you can imagine, stream beds are well endowed with sand which provides poor habitat for aquatic organisms eaten by trout and also lacks potential as trout spawning grounds. However, the native speckled trout can spawn successfully on coarse sand and fine gravel, where there is a constant upwelling of groundwater and where the sand bedload is not excessive. Gravel riffles where the rainbow and brown trout prefer to spawn, are few and far between.

Another characteristic of the Norfolk Sand Plain is it's high suitability for agriculture - with the right amount of fertilizer, pesticides and water, you can grow almost anything there. Early settlers were quick to realize this - forest cover quickly declined from about 72% of our landscape in 1851 to 12% by the early 1900's due to logging and land clearing for agriculture. At the beginning of this century, much of Norfolk County had become a dust bowl as the fragile sands eroded due to wind and water runoff. The establishment of Ontario's first Forest Station at St.Williams in 1908 provided the seedlings for stabilizing the blow sands with pine plantations that dot the landscape today. Forest cover is back over 25% of the land but concentrated in the centres of the concessions and along stream corridors.

Agriculture is still the major contributor to the local economy. Over half of the flue-cured tobacco grown in Ontario is produced on the Norfolk Sand Plain. Many, many other crops are grown in the area, including fruit, vegetables, small grains, mushrooms and ginseng, but tobacco is still the predominant crop. Fortunately most tobacco farmers are good stewards of their land - evergreen wind breaks criss-cross the land and help connect the remnant Carolinian Forest; crop rotation and wide spread use of cover crops ensures the highly erodible soil is continuously protected; and, the relatively high income per acre makes small fields with numerous fence rows, which hinder sheet erosion, practical, while reducing the need to cultivate the fragile land near stream corridors.

The sand plains high suitability to agriculture is a drawback from the trouts point of view. Most major problems with our coldwater fisheries stem from land use conflicts with agriculture. For example, over 600 dams were counted on streams in a survey of the sand plain area by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) - several are old mill dams that block fish migration upstream, but most were built to provide a source of irrigation water. Many of these have blocked fish access to spawning grounds, or turned cold into warm water streams. Over 175 miles of coldwater streams have been dredged out and turned into municipal drains which provide outlet for tiled farm land. This has eliminated or severely damaged trout habitat and leads to downstream sedimentation. Massive gullies have formed due to poorly designed drainage tile outlets and to land clearing, fence row removal or cultivation too close to stream valley brims. Sediment eroded from the gullies has plugged creek channels, filled in holes and covered spawning riffles. Sedimentation has completely eliminated natural reproduction of trout in several formerly productive streams. Other problems occur but to a lesser extent - eg. unrestricted cattle access, stream dewatering during irrigation and contaminant spills.

Now that I've painted a rather gloomy picture of our coldwater streams, I'd like to assure you that all is not lost - we still have an abundance of healthy coldwater fisheries, they are fragile and still threatened but many gains have been made in their rehabilitation and protection over the last two decades - thanks to some innovation and to a co-operative approach within the community. I will illustrate this with several case studies focusing on the agricultural drainage issue.

1) All permanently flowing streams were identified as Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the (1978) Official Plan of Haldimand-Norfolk Region ("all progress has resulted from those who took unpopular positions").

2) South Creek Drain (1980) - established a stream improvement demonstration (cattle fencing/crossing, bank overhang) on an existing drain where the landowner was interested and situated along a major highway - visible, aesthetic, marketed drainage outlet benefits.

3) Little Otter Creek Drain Extension (1981) - negotiate seeding of ditch banks through demonstration (ie. show me it works!).

4) Kent Creek/Barker Drain (1982) - utilize the Drainage Act to advantage and stop "drainage creep" downstream by a successful, joint appeal to the Drainage Tribunal by the MNR, several private landowners, the Simcoe & District Fish & Game Club (SDFGC) and the Ontario Federation of Angler's & Hunter's (OFAH). The SDFGC completed a stream improvement project (instream debris removal, bank brushing, culvert cleaning) funded by the MNR's Community Fisheries Improvement Program (CFIP) to improve drainage outlet while enhancing brook trout habitat. A sediment trap was included at the downstream end of the drain, as part of the drain and to be maintained at the cost of upstream landowners who benefit from the drain.

5) MNR biologist joins the Drainage Superintendent's Association of Ontario (DSAO) in 1987 - ie. "if you can't beat them, join them!". Improved communication and understanding on both sides helped reduce the incidence of, and polarization on, drainage issues.

6) Cranberry Creek Drain (1988) - the MNR "put their $ where their mouth was" and funded a five year, drain maintenance experiment, including paying for the engineer's report and all maintenance over the experimental period. Assessment of the wild brook trout population by MNR and cost analysis of constructing and periodically cleaning two sand traps by the Township of Norfolk's Drainage Department, showed a more cost effective and environmentally friendly means of maintaining agricultural drainage outlet compared to the conventional means of drain maintenance as documented in the Drainage Engineer's follow-up report (Spriet Associates, 1995). Not only was the Drainage Act used to advantage, but the old proverb "Tell Someone, They Forget; Show Someone, They Remember; Involve Someone, They Understand.", was proven true!

7) 1877 Atlas of Norfolk County - many municipal drains have been in existence for a long time, some dating back to the turn of the century, and it is not unusual for drainage ditch proponents to argue the creek (and thus the fish habitat) formed because of the drainage construction. This may be true in some incidents and but not when the old atlas shows a little squiggly line suggesting the presence of a natural creek there. I found this very useful for solving these "chicken/egg" arguments!

About the Speaker: Dave Reid, is a Fish and Wildlife graduate (University of Guelph, 1975), and for 20 years has been Simcoe Area Biologist for OMNR. He was chairman (1991-1993) of Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, and is currently the Stewardship Coordinator at Norfolk Land Stewardship Council.

A New Habitat Assessment Methodology for Southern Ontario Streams

Les Stanfield presents an overview of the development and application of this landmark project.


There has been a call by managers and biologists throughout North America, for objective tools to carry out habitat assessment in streams. In response to this, the Great Lakes Salmonid Unit has been leading a project to develop a new model to relate the productive capacity of streams to its components of habitat. We have worked hard to ensure that the various data components of this model can be repeatably applied by modestly trained crews, in a timely and efficient manner and that all of the measurements are demonstratably related to productive capacity. The protocol has evolved sufficiently that it is presently being tested as a new provincial manual for habitat assessment, scheduled for release in the spring of 1997.

The protocol (as it has come to be called) consists of a series of 9 connected modules, some of which can be used independently to assess various components of habitat. However together they constitute a means of 1) designing a sampling theory; 2) conducting both the physical and biological assessment and 3) managing the data and 4) evaluating the site in terms of its suitability for various species.

Module 1: Introduction

This module contains some background to stream assessment and the advantages of having an objective protocol, how it evolved, the rationale behind the various modules and how to use the manual.

Module 2: Site Selection and Sampling Design

We provide guidance as to how to design a habitat survey. The protocol defines a sample site as being a minimum of one riffle-pool sequence or 40 m long, which when applied provides data at a local scale. Sometimes, managers may be interested in larger scale issues such as watershed planning. The main challenges to be addressed when applying this protocol at larger scales are determining how many sites are needed to provide an adequate sample, and where the sites should be located. This summer we applied the protocol at sites in close proximity in order to evaluate reach level variance, a key step towards determining sample size.

Module 3: Nutrient Status

Available nutrients greatly influence the productivity capacity for fish and are a notoriously difficult attribute to measure. We have adopted a rapid assessment technique developed by Hilsenhoff (1987) for macrobenthic invertebrates in order to assess the nutrient status of a site. Technicians sample and identify the invertebrates to major taxonomic groups in the field. These groupings are then scored based on their tolerance of eutrophic conditions and the values are summed to provide the nutrient index.

Module 4: Fish Community Sampling

We use a single pass of intensive electrofishing (Jones and Stockwell 1995) to collect an index of abundance for the fish present at a site and the biomass of salmonids. All fish are identified to species to ensure that the data will be of maximum benefit both for present and future interpretation.

Module 5: Fish Habitat & Channel Morphology

We have tested and are proposing a new point transect technique for carrying out habitat assessments. This technique applies an objective statistically based sampling design that has been shown to provide more repeatable results than visually based - whole site methods.

This approach involves the crew placing a tape measure at regular distances across the stream throughout the site. All measurements that are made are designed to provide insight into the amount and quality of physical habitat (riffles, pools and cover), and the channel stability.

At equally spaced points along the transect the observers record: the depth: an index of velocity; the point of maximum substrate size; presence and type of cover; and presence and types of vegetation. At each bank: the sediment type; andle; amount and type of vegetation is recorded. Along each transect we record the stream bearing (to provide georeferencing for later recreations of site features on a map) and at the first and last transect we measure the pavement and subpavement particle sizes.

In one study we carried out we compared the repeatability of the point-transect technique to the visually based habitat surveys. We used a habitat suitability index score to characterize the habitats at each site and compared the results between two surveys carried out by different crews. The point-transect techniques provided much more repeatable results.

Module 6: Thermal Stability

One of the most important attributes of a stream habitat for fish is the temperature. We have determined that by simply recording the stream temperature at around 4 PM on hot summer days that we can accurately categorize the stream into either a thermally stable (very cold), moderately stable (moderately cold) and thermally unstable (warm) (Stoneman and Jones 1996). We have found this to be easier than using max-min thermometers or temperature loggers.

Module 7: Site Features

The surveyors document a number of either local or reach level features that they observe or can dig up using their detective skills. The intention of this section is to ensure that a record is kept of features such as groundwater seeps and adjacent landuses that might help explain the results.

Module 8: Data Management and Summary

We have developed an integrated Microsoft Access database system to create a link between the data collection and its storage and management. For example the data collection forms are actually generated from within the database program, so that the data entry screen is the same as the data collection form. We are working with OFIS to ensure the compatibility of this program and FISHNET.

Queries have been incorporated within the database to interpret, summarize and generate reports from the various modules. This methodology provides the option to redefine the criteria for interpreting the data at a future date, as knowledge or questions change.

Since all the data are georeferenced, we are working on a system which will create schematics of the site. We will be able to create bathometric maps, and distributions of various habitat components (ie. pools, riffles, cover, sediment). This will be very helpful for anyone interested in issues about habitat distribution, or who simply prefer to see a visual representation of the data.

Module 9: Habitat Suitability Indices & Testing

This module is still in the development stages. Our intention is to provide a series of habitat suitability indices for each stream dwelling species found in southern Ontario. We will then examine the habitat data collected at each site and rank its suitability for various species.

We have created a data base which describes the habitat suitability criteria for every southern Ontario stream dwelling fish and have also developed a test model to interpret the habitat information. We are in the process of testing the models against a data set of over 200 sites for which we have both the habitat and fish community data, to determine how well the models predict habitat suitability.

What’s next:

We are very interested in testing the suitability of these procedures for northern Ontario streams and would welcome partners for this. We are also working to incorporate a more detailed geomorphic assessment that would include measurements at the bank full channel and across the extent of the river valley. Finally we would like to explore how much flexibility there is in some of our sampling methodologies (for example the electrofishing and thermal stability surveys).


Initial funding and continued support for this project have been provided by Serge Metikosh of DFO. The annual support of Trout Unlimited and the Environmental Youth Corp program has been invaluable. Many colleagues have contributed a tremendous amount of effort to this process, particularly; Mike Stoneman (sampling procedures, data base system); John Parish (geomorphic assessment); Bruce Kilgour (nutrient index); Christine Stoneman (thermal stability); Gord Wichert (species requirements).

References Related to Protocol Development:

Jones M. L and J. D. Stockwell 1996. A rapid assessment procedure for the enumeration of

salmonine populations in streams. NAJFM. 15:555-562.

Stanfield L. S. and M.L. Jones (in review): A comparison of a point-transect and visual technique

for habitat assessment in 1st to 4th order streams.

Stoneman C. L., M.L. Jones and L.S. Stanfield 1996. Habitat Suitability Assessment Models for

Southern Ontario Trout Streams. Can. Man. Rep. of Fish and Aquat. Sci. No. 2345

About the Speaker: Les Stanfield, is a fisheries ecologist with the Great Lakes Salmonid Unit of OMNR. His research focus is on the relationship between fish production and habitat community interactions. He has had major involvement in the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Project, and is Chair of the Watershed Report Card.

Assessing Fish Habitat - Separating Good from Bad

Christine Stoneman will discuss models and techniques developed for fish habitat assessment.

Models and Techniques to Assess Fish Habitat

The habitat requirements of fish species have been the subject of numerous investigations. However there are relatively few models that allow us to score a site for it’s suitability as fish habitat. Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) models were developed in the United States for a variety of species, including rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brown (Salmo trutta) and brook (Salvelinus fontinalis) trout. These models had been suggested for use here, but were untested for their applicability to this region. To test the original models, we collected biomass and habitat data from 118 sites across southern Ontario. Our habitat measurements included descriptions of morphology, substrate, water temperature, instream physical habitat types (percent pools, riffles etc), and bank vegetation. Using these data we tested the original rainbow, brown and brook trout HSI models and found them to be poor predictors of biomass in Southern Ontario. In particular, several brook and brown trout sites receive a low score and yet have high biomass. By looking closely at these sites, we realized that the original models assign a low score to sandy bottom streams. Our data showed that southern Ontario brook and brown trout do well in sand dominated sites. Using this type of information and knowledge of habitat requirements in Southern Ontario, we developed new, modified, HSI-type models. These new models provide better predictions than the original models, in that there are no low scoring, high biomass sites. There are however are several sites that receive a high score, but contain very few trout. This type of model error is not as problematic, as numerous external factors, such as angling and competition amongst trout species, could cause a lower than expected biomass. In the HSI brook trout model, a lower than expect biomass of brook trout is always found when brown trout are present.

During the development of the HSI models, we realized that a simple but accurate way to classify a stream’s thermal characteristics was needed. We examined six sites, chosen to represent three different thermal categories: Coldwater, Coolwater and Warmwater. At the two Coldwater sites maximum summer water temperatures never exceeded 17°C, at the two Coolwater sites water temperatures remained below 23°C, while at the two Warmwater sites water temperatures reached 28°C. We found that a simple comparison of water temperature at 4 pm and the maximum air temperature on the same day best distinguished the three thermal types. The Coldwater sites remain consistently colder on hot (> 25°C) days than coolwater sites, which in turn remain colder than the Warmwater sites. From these data we developed a graph that uses air and water temperature measurements taken during the months of July, August and early September to classify a stream as cold, cool or warmwater. It is important to note that the data should be collected on a day when the previous 2 days air temperatures were similar to the day of sampling. For instance, if data is collected on a very hot day that has been preceded by 2 days of relatively cold weather, the stream may be classified as colder than it actually is. Similarly a day where air temperatures are considerably cooler than the previous 2 days air temperatures may result in classifying a stream as warmer than it actually is. Statistical analysis shows that rainfall has no effect on the accuracy of classification.

In addition to developing Habitat Suitability Index type models, we used the same data to generate a statistical model. The sites were first divided into four categories based on total trout biomass. The categories are poor, good, very good and excellent. Using multivariate methods, we looked at habitat trends amongst these four sites and found differences in water temperature, percent pools, substrate and cover. High trout biomass is associated with cold waters, many pools, plentiful cover and smaller substrate. Sites containing warmer waters, few pools and little cover contained a poor biomass of trout. In a second analysis we divided the site into three categories based on the dominant trout species present in the site. Results show that brook trout are associated with pool dominated, sandy bottom sites that contain few or no competitors (Brown or Rainbow trout). Rainbow trout were associated with riffle dominated, large substrate sites and few competitors. Sites dominated by brown trout contain a balance of pool and riffle habitats, medium sized substrate and the presence of competitors. From these results we conclude that rainbow trout are more successful in different habitat than brook or brown trout. We also conclude that our data lend support to the prediction that brown trout tend to out-compete brook trout for preferred habitat.

About the Speaker: Christine Stoneman, M.Sc., is a Fish Habitat Biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and from 1991 to 1995 she has been developing models and techniques to assess fish habitat for OMNR.

Saving the Nipigon Brook Trout: A Good News Story

Rob Swainson gives a presentation on problems and solutions, including rare underwater footage of the legendary Nipigon brook trout.

Brook Trout, Dams and Damns

Habitat degradation, over exploitation and competition from introduced species have been implicated in the decline of the legendary Nipigon River and Lake Superior “coaster” brook trout populations.

A rehabilitation strategy has included reduced angler limits (limit of one, must be greater than 51 cm.), a closure to winter fishing, establishment of sanctuaries to protect spawning areas, establishment of an inland genetic refuge lake and increased stocking in accessible inland waters to provide alternate brook trout angling opportunities.

Existing spawning and nursery habitat have been protected by managing water levels and new spawning and nursery habitat have been created.

Field studies from 1988-1990 demonstrated that fluctuating water levels caused by hydro electric dam operations exposed to desiccation and freezing up to 90% (21/23) of the identified brook trout redds in the Nipigon River during the spawning and incubation period.

Flow tests were conducted to determine minimum requirements to allow spawning and to protect brook trout redds during the incubation period. An interim minimum flow agreement was established in September 1990.

Spawning habitat was created by constructing two artificial upwelling areas by piping and dispersing groundwater up through gravel in the Nipigon River. In addition, a large area (1000 meters squared) and several small (1.5 meters squared) areas where groundwater discharged through unsuitable substrate, were improved by replacing or covering the native bottom material with suitable gravel materials. To provide additional spawning and nursery habitat, a small groundwater fed tributary was reshaped and resurfaced with gravel substrate.

Nursery habitat was also enhanced in a nearby, small groundwater fed tributary by excavating a 31 meter squared pool.

To provide access for spawning fish and to avoid stranding during rapid drawdown events caused by hydro-electric dam operations, the littoral zone was recontoured near a natural spawning area and near the habitat enhancement projects.

Since the establishment of the interim flow agreement a maximum of 20% of the identified brook trout redds have been exposed to desiccation and freezing.

Facilitated by the Remedial Action Plan for Nipigon Bay, a public consultation process involving all stakeholders and the use of multi-objective simulation models for water resources management, the 1990 interim flow agreement was replaced in 1994 with a “Nipigon River Water Management Plan”. The plan gives first priority to protecting brook trout habitat while considering the needs of other stakeholders. Implementation of the plan is ongoing.

Efforts to collect fry emerging from the artificial upwellings and enhanced spawning areas have been unsuccessful, however, pre-spawn, ripe adult brook trout and post-spawn, spent adult brook trout have been live captured on the artificial upwelling areas during the spawning period.

Adult brook trout were also observed digging redds in groundwater discharge areas where the substrate was enhanced and eggs have been observed in the redds.

Although confounded by the presence of a natural spawning site in the vicinity, increased numbers of young-of-the-year brook trout have been observed in all areas of habitat enhancement.

The enhanced nursery refugia has also shown an increase in use by young-of-the-year brook trout.

Recontouring the littoral zone has reduced the stranding of fish during drawdown events. Assessment is ongoing.

About the Speaker: Rob Swainson, is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist, OMNR, Nipigon District, responsible for managing caribou, moose, deer, bear, eagles, osprey, pelicans and peregrine falcons. He received the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Conservation Award (1991) for work with Brook Trout.

Thames River Anglers

Paul Noble and Randy Bailey hosted a slide presentation of the history and highlights of grass roots habitat restoration work on the Thames River and its tributaries.

The Thames River Anglers Association was very pleased to receive the invitation to speak at River Rendezvous ‘97 about our beloved Thames River watershed and how our organization has been involved in the promotion, protection and enhancement of this unique eco-system.

Our presentation began with some little known facts about the Thames River and surrounding areas. Over 35 endangered, soon to be endangered, vulnerable or threatened species of plants, birds, animals, trees and fish spend all or most of their life cycles in the Thames River watershed. There are 150 fish species registered in Ontario; 97 of these make the Thames and its tributaries their homes. Much of the Thames River area is designated as the “Carolinian Life Zone” despite the widespread agricultural usage in the region.

The Thames River Anglers Association (TRAA) was formed in the spring of 1986 by a small group of anglers concerned with the steady decline of smallmouth bass in all branches of the Thames River. The TRAA originally had only a President, Vice President, Secretary, a Trout Committee and a Bass Committee. Over the past decade, the TRAA has added 8 more executive and 7 more Committees to handle the increasing number and diversity of projects.

The role of the TRAA trout hatchery changed after 5 years of operation as an outdoor up-welling box and holding/growth tank. The trout hatchery operations were enclosed and enhanced in 1993 to accommodate a primarily educational function. This facility operates year round, providing ample opportunity for tours conducted by TRAA members for a number of special interest groups. The various stages of rainbow and brown trout development can be viewed up close and in comfort. This project is the main focus of the Trout Committee.

The TRAA established a brood pond for smallmouth bass that were removed from several area gravel pits that were slated to be filled in for development. This spring fed, self-sustaining pond continually produces enough mature smallmouth bass to allow twice yearly transfers to the North Thames River. Largemouth bass are also regularly transferred from another prolific gravel pit into Sharon Creek Reservoir, which is part of a tributary of the Main Thames River. The TRAA also participated in the transfer of mature walleye from the Thames River near Chatham, Ontario to the North Thames River near Fanshawe Lake. It was hoped that these walleye would use the Thames as spawning habitat (as they once did before a number of man-made barriers were built) and then make Fanshawe Lake their new home. Creel surveys, electro-fishing and other data collection techniques have determined that this has actually taken place, given that several year classes that were not transferred or previously present were found in respectable numbers. An experimental walleye hatchery was built by the TRAA with an initial trial of 200,000 eggs in the spring of 1997. These were also released into the North Thames River upstream from Fanshawe Lake. The walleye hatchery is enclosed in a trailer and can be set up anywhere for educational purposes. These projects are the responsibility of the Warmwater Committee.

The TRAA took on the responsibility of the stewardship of Komoka Creek, a coldwater tributary of the Thames River in 1988. The TRAA prevented the dredging of Komoka Creek by convincing the Township of Lobo and area landowners that the flooding tendencies of the creek could be alleviated in a more environmentally responsible manner. The TRAA accomplished this with a major cleanup of overgrowth, dead falls and other debris. The following season of high water passed without incident and all parties were satisfied. The successful rehabilitation of this stream to that of a healthy, multi-species trout stream then began and continues today. Stream and river clean-ups, both on the Thames River and its tributaries take place with regularity. The TRAA has assisted other organizations with expertise, volunteers and funding on rehabilitation projects, access points for the physically challenged, community master plans and the list continues. Most of these projects fall under the Rehabilitation Committee.

Other Committees within the TRAA include Public Relations, Social, Fundraising, Telephone, Newsletter/Hotline and Membership. They all have integral functions and are necessary to the continued success of the TRAA.

Some points to consider if you wish to be an effective grass-roots organisation are:

• Limit your scope; be realistic about your goals and experience level.

• Set up the rule book immediately; ie. Constitution and By-laws.

• Set up an executive; the process should be outlined in your By-laws.

• Stay consistent and focused.

• Form strategic partnerships based on your function and philosophies.

• Keep detailed minutes of meetings and files of anything even remotely related to your group.

• Diversify your funding base.

• Keep meetings, work parties, and other functions focused but entertaining.

• Be liberal with the number of social events and include the kids for they are your future!

• Keep the membership fees as low as possible; do not fund activities from members’ pockets.

The Thames River Anglers Association is proud of the small but influential role that we have had in our community over the past 10 years. The above summary of our presentation only touches on our function and activities. You can visit our web site, or access our e-mail at for a quick response. The TRAA Hotline is (519) 457-4122.

Seventy Years of Stream Habitat Restoration in North America

Dr. Ray White discusses perspectives on the growth and development of stream habitat management, including philosophical as well as scientific and technical trends.

Managing stream habitat for fish mainly involves protecting and restoring channels, riparian areas, and watersheds from human-generated damage. It ranges from such passive measures as zoning land uses and fencing livestock away from stream banks, to adjusting positions of in-channel logs to make better trout “lies” or modifying riparian vegetation, to such major repairs as abating pollution, re-meandering straight-dredged channels, and removing dams. Investing in habitat yields long-term fishery dividends.

Stream habitat work by public agencies, begun in Michigan trout creeks in 1927, is half as old as the continent's hatchery-based fishery management, which, though seldom evaluated and probably unsuccessful in general, still dominates the thinking of ecologically naive people, is politically expedient, and consumes the lion’s share of most fishery agency budgets. Habitat work grew modestly and generally improved, building on sound initial ideas of pioneering biologists.

Early work concentrated on building wood and stone structures to repair in-channel damage from logging, grazing, and cropland agriculture. Managers often used overly artificial or otherwise unsuitable methods, but cognizance of natural stream features and processes (hydrology, hydraulics, geomorphology) and of fish behavior (microhabitat use) has increased, as has awareness of needs to deal more directly with harmful human influences. Forestry practices, soil tillage, and grazing persist as major problems, and other disturbances such as roads, pipelines, channelization, gravel mining, other mining, damming, water withdrawal, and urbanization receive increased attention.

The geographic center of activity shifted westward since about 1970. Important roles of woody debris in streams recently became better known, as did those of beaver, and such knowledge is increasingly applied in habitat projects, particularly in high-energy streams. Emphasis remains on trout streams, but salmon habitat work has expanded, and habitat for warmwater fishes seems to receive more attention than in the past.

Some habitat managers fail to learn basic principles and proper methods, and agencies tend to lose sight of them, thus continual education is needed. Intrusion of unqualified practitioners into the field necessitates professional certification, which has not developed in most jurisdictions. Innovation has been healthy when combined with evaluation and revision to cull ineffective and damaging practices. Stream habitat work is evaluated more than most other aquatic resource managements, but still not adequately. Properly applying methods suited to local conditions has significantly increased fish abundance, whereas other work has failed. Stream manipulation can be as wasteful and damaging as ill-conceived fish stocking when overdone or misapplied, as is common when undertaken merely to assuage political demands or as a “feel-good” activity. A more common shortcoming is lack of maintenance programs for past projects.

Emphasis on wild fish and on biotic integrity of ecosystems—with a watershed emphasis—is an aquatic resource management trend, of which stream habitat management can be part. Knowledge not only of techniques but of underlying science is growing. Managers increasingly incorporate in their projects such ecological core-concepts as habitat complexity (to accommodate biodiversity, including the life-history diversities essential even within single species), succession, connectivity, resiliency (self-healing of natural systems), dynamic stability, and sustainability. Appreciation of aesthetics, of historical influences, and of genetic and evolutionary principles is increasingly recognized as essential. Shaping human behavior toward better protection and healing of fish habitat via processes of the drainage basin and its living mantle is basic and is often proving more effective in the long run than directly repairing abused stream channels.

About the Speaker: Dr. Ray White, BA., M.S., Ph.D began his career in 1957 as a Wisconsin Conservation Department biologist, he has worked and studied in Europe, taught at Michigan State and Montana State Universities, and is now consulting, mainly on stream habitat matters.

Degradation and Rehabilitation of Toronto Area Streams: 1940’s-1990’s

Gordon Wichert discusses responses of Toronto area streams to urbanization and sewage from the 1940’s to the 1990’s; with fish species as indicators of the changes.


General characterization of Toronto area watershed

• relatively undisturbed headwaters

• progressively more intensive degradation as proceed downstream: agriculture, urbanization

Conceptual approach: comparative Ä empirical Ä historical investigation of an ecosystem using fish

species as indicators of ecological condition

Historical context:

Ontario Department of Planning and Development (1940s to 1950s), Hallam (1959), Wainio et al. (1950s to 1970s), Martin-Downs, Regier, Steedman, Wichert (1980s to 1990s)

Some sensitive species:

• trout species (Brook, Brown, Rainbow)

• Mottled sculpin

• Rainbow darter

• Centrarchids (Large and Smallmouth bass, Rock bass, Pumpkinseed)

Some relatively tolerant species:

• some minnows (bluntnose and fathead minnows, blacknose dace, creek chub)

• white sucker

• brown bullhead

Fish species found upstream and downstream of sewage treatment plants on the main stem of the Don River. "Before" and "after" refer to adopting tertiary treatment at the plants. Italics represents partly urbanized sites.
Dates of surveys
1949 (before) 1984-1991 (after)
Upstream of STP • common shiner 

• rainbow darter 

• johnny darter

• white sucker 

• common shiner 

• blacknose dace 

• creek chub

Downstream of STP • no fish • tolerant species

Fish species found upstream and downstream of sewage treatment plants on the west branch of the Don River. "Before" and "after" refer to de-commissioning of the plants. Italics represents non-urban or partly urbanized sites.
Dates of surveys
1949 (before) 1984-1991 (after)
Upstream of STP • northern redbelly dace 

• redside dace 

• common shiner 

• johnny darter

• northern redbelly dace 

• blacknose dace 

• creek chub

Downstream of STP • common shiner 

• johnny darter

• tolerant species

Fish species found upstream and downstream of sewage treatment plants on Taylor Creek, a branch of the Don River. "Before" and "after" refer to de-commissioning of the plants. Italics represents non-urban sites.
Dates of surveys
1949 (before) 1984-1991 (after)
Upstream of STP • bluntnose minnow 

• blacknose dace 

• creek chub 

• tolerant species

• white sucker 

• blacknose dace 

• creek chub 

• tolerant species

Downstream of STP • no fish • tolerant species


• fish appear to be useful indicators of ecological conditions

• the rainbow darter in particular show reduced distribution with increased urbanization

• if operating within provincial guidelines sewage treatment plants appear to mitigate some of the harmful stresses associated with urbanization; further rehabilitation may result if chlorination is replaced with a less harmful practice

• some parts of the Toronto area watershed have remained relatively unchanged, some have become more degraded and others have improved

• inhabits riffle areas in streams of moderate gradient

• associated with relatively good water quality

• found locales with clean, heterogeneous rubble-gravel substrate with little algae


Settlement of the Toronto area by Europeans began in the late 1700s (ODPD 1956). The earliest European settlements occurred in sheltered bays and along streams. Europeans arriving in the Toronto area found physiographic conditions similar to what they were familiar with in Europe, thus settlement concentrated around areas providing transportation Ä bays, large navigable rivers Ä and streams from which water power for mills could be harnessed. The thick forests of the relatively flat upland till plains were felled for timber and to create open land for agriculture. Numerous water powered mills were constructed to power saw, grist and woollen mills. The net effect of settlement and land use practices was the reduced distribution and disappearance of sensitive fish species.

In Toronto area streams, fish have been used as integrative indicators of the temperature and other water quality conditions of entire watersheds (ODPD 1946-1956). The year-round presence of trout species such as the Brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, indicated cold-flowing streams, with clean water and relatively low disturbance from human activities. Some percid species, e.g. the Rainbow darter, Etheostoma caeruleum, indicate high quality, cool water habitat (maximum summer water temperatures of 18-24°C). Relatively warm reaches Ä maximum summer stream temperatures greater than 24°C Ä of good habitat and water quality are indicated by the presence of centrarchid species such as the Smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, Pumpkinseed, Lepomis gibbosus, and Rockbass, Ambloplites rupestris.

Two offsetting trends have occurred in the streams of the Toronto area: degradation associated with urbanization, and mitigation and rehabilitation associated with improved sewage treatment. Using data collected from over 500 stream stations from 1946-54 and from about 200 of the same stations in 1984-85, and several partial surveys of Toronto streams from the 1950s to the early 1990s, I compared fish communities above and below sewage treatment plants before and after they were removed or improved. I explore the utility of the Rainbow darter as an easy-to-identify indicator of ecological conditions in Toronto area streams.

The Metropolitan Toronto government was formed in 1953. One of the first initiatives of the new government was to decommission the small sewage plants operating within the Metro area and transfer the raw sewage to regional plants along the lake shore for treatment and discharge. Sewage plants servicing communities away from the Metro area were upgraded to provide tertiary treatment (phosphorus removal). These upgrades were completed by 1976 as part of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Comparisons of fish communities above and below sewage plants before and after improvements show that sensitive species at locales upstream of sewage plants disappeared where urbanization occurred and only tolerant species remained. Despite increasing urbanization, conditions for fish below sewage plants either remained the same or improved. In some cases the fish community Ä comprised by tolerant species Ä did not change; in other locales fish were found after sewage plant removal or improvement where no fish were found prior to the improvements in sewage treatment. This suggests that improved sewage treatment has offset degrading conditions in some locales and in others improved conditions for fish in Toronto area streams over the past 40 years, despite continued urbanization.

The rainbow darter is the most colourful, small fish found in Ontario streams. This darter is found in riffles of cool, clear, gravel streams with little silt. The distribution of the Rainbow darter in Toronto area streams shows an interesting pattern since the 1950s. During a survey of the Don River in 1949, the rainbow darter was found at 19 locations; all but one of which were upstream of urban development (Figure 1). As urbanization of the watershed occurred, the distribution of the rainbow darter was reduced so that by 1993 they were found at only one location which was upstream of major urban development.

A similar distribution pattern for Rainbow darter occurred in other Toronto area streams (Figure 2). Parts of the Credit, Humber and Rouge Rivers, and Duffins Creeks are not heavily urbanized; these locales support populations of Rainbow darters. Etobicoke and Highland Creeks both had Rainbow darters in the 1950s. By 1984-85 these two watersheds were extensively urbanized and Rainbow darter had disappeared. The lower Humber River was urbanized by the 1950s and considered degraded Ä Rainbow darters were not found there at that time. Over the past 40 years water quality in the lower Humber has improved and Rainbow darter were found there in 1984-85 and more recently. These patterns of occurrence suggest that Rainbow darters are sensitive to degradation associated with urbanization but that these effects can be offset allowing this darter.

About the Speaker: Dr. Gordon Wichert, has assessed the ecosystem dynamics of southern Ontario streams as reflected by their associations to degradation and rehabilitation.

Community Involvement and Watersheds: The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly
in the Beaver Kill/Willowemoc Watershed Initiative

Jock Conyngham discusses the creation of local buy-in, building networks, and battling flood response in Trout Unlimited’s Beaver Kill-Willowemoc Watershed Initiative.

Recognition of the critical role of community involvement in conservation represents one of the major advances in conservation in the latter part of the 20th century.  The appearance of new disciplines and acronyms such as ethnoecology or LKMS (local knowledge management systems) illustrates the gravity and development of this concept.  A conservation project without a community involvement component is a rare and threatened species, and rightly so.  Projects that failed either outright or in the long term due to lack of local participation litter the global landscape.

Project managers now venture forth with bright cheeks and shining eyes to work with the colorful and wise local inhabitant, the real resource manager.  They nearly always return disappointed, cynical, or, at the least, considerably less bright-eyed.

How can this be?  All too often, it is for the simplest of reasons--the main impetus for the project and the main nexus for project decision-making lie outside the watershed, conservation dogma and slogans notwithstanding.  If that is not the case, trouble comes from the most universal of reasons--watershed communities, if broadly defined as groups with common interests and interactions in the basin, are certain to be characterized by as much intra-group and inter-group conflict as any other aggregation of people.  Consider specific examples of the array of groups usually lumped into a simplistic notion of watershed community:  local residents (many of whom don’t get along); local resource users (such as anglers, boaters, and river-based business proprietors, many of whom loathe one another); seasonal residents; visiting resource users; non-river-based watershed businesses; watershed governments (at several levels); professional managers and regulators (from various agencies, and at several levels); non-profit resource advocacy groups; and, perhaps the biggest stakeholder in monetary terms, the large downstream communities where river and harbor navigation, flood frequency, water quality, and perhaps reservoir lifespans depend on the upper watershed.  What are the chances for concensus with a group like that, particularly if watershed degradation is associated with economic decline?

One of the few things I remember from my Anthropology 101 course is that all documented cultures had or have some formal mechanism for resolving conflict, usually a well-developed legal system.  If the very few commonalities in widely varying cultures can be assumed to represent fundamental aspects of human nature, this speaks eloquently to the inability of people anywhere to behave well.  Buy any cultural anthropologist one or more drinks, and he or she will soon share with you the revelation that Homo sapiens is the most difficult and unpredictable of all species to work with, both as individuals and as groups.  Anthropologists tend to view wildlife ethologists and even virologists with thinly disguised envy.

To explain my talk’s bizarre title, which I must credit to Dr. Jack Imhof’s creative mind and singular taste in movies, the rest of this talk will briefly describe Trout Unlimited’s experience and findings in its first watershed-based project, the Beaver Kill/Willowemoc Watershed Initiative in New York.  The watershed has experienced four distinct phases:

    1) The Bad--The watershed and its river system suffered grievously in the past from the effects of tanneries and the wood chemicals industry, the latter consuming nearly 200,000 cords of wood a year at its peak in a 300 square mile watershed.  Massive erosion was common in the lower watershed and many tributary subwatersheds, and fish kills occurred numerous times after spills of toxic effluent.  The last acid factory closed in the 1950’s, and much of the watershed is in a state of revegetation and healing.  Negative impacts and limiting anthropogenic factors now stem largely from channel constraint and modification associated with railway and road construction; hardened stormwater runoff systems; channels truncated, armored, and smoothed with riprap; and poor culvert and bridge design.

    2) Pre-Ugly Good--The watershed has witnessed some remarkable conservation successes, including the historic protection of the upper reaches by private angling clubs and the creation of the second oldest catch-and-release, artificials-only special regulations water in the United States by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  Trout Unlimited chose it as the best laboratory in the US for its first watershed-scale project.

    3) The Ugly--Three severe floods occurred in the watershed in January, November, and December, 1996, the third year of the project.  The January event was the flood of record at the U.S. Geological Survey gage in Cooks Falls.  Delaware County, through which the lower river flows, received US$10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood response.  NYSDEC’s Region 4 office issued over 500 streamwork permits to landowners, and many more sites were channelized either under memoranda of understanding with towns, counties, and other government agencies or entirely without permit.  Region 4 issued a calculation that over 65 miles of channelization and several hundred violations had occurred in the county in 1996.  Only one violation was ticketed, leading to a media and legal battle with Trout Unlimited that ended with an out-of-court settlement in April, 1998.

    4)  The Good--TU’s project was able to record the biological and morphological impacts of channelization and the poor performance of channelized sites in the November and December events.  In association with TU-sponsored on-site training with Dave Rosgen, an internationally-recognized fluvial geomorphologist, these data caused many regulatory personnel, public works managers, and residents to rethink traditional approaches to channel management.  The changes are remarkable--Delaware County has sent one of its engineers to Rosgen’s Colorado school for further training, FEMA asked TU to develop training materials for permit applicants after a 1998 storm event, TU was asked to teach a module in channel dynamics at FEMA’s training facility in Maryland, and the Army Corps of Engineers recently asked TU to judge restoration plans after a permit violation by the New York State Department of Transportation and to comment on new regional and nationwide draft permits.  Due to the series of flood events, citizens and resource managers in the Catskills and other areas of New York have begun to recognize the inherent characteristics and roles of natural channels and floodplains.

          Many of the lessons of the project, though not all, have flowed from this extraordinary flood sequence.  In summary, then, critical considerations for optimizing citizen involvement include:
    1) Long project time spans--Robust watershed-scale science, true community involvement and momentum, and effective conservation require substantial temporal and spatial time spans.  Funders, managers, and the media should not expect dramatic short-term results.  The complexity of these systems and their communities argues for a slow, careful, expensive approach.

    2) Face to face interaction--Until people can sit down together, bidirectional flows of information and effective conflict resolution are not going to occur.  Human nature ensures that people suspect strangers with strange ideas, and community members who reach out quickly to conservation staff often do so for the wrong reasons.  Additionally, you will miss making some great friends if all your time is spent on science and habitat work.  The importance of leaning-on-the-fence, talking-in-the-grocery-store time needs to be recognized.

    3) Effective quantitative assessment and monitoring programs--Conservationists must be able to understand limiting factors and the sources of biological integrity and resilience for big, complex systems, and then they must be able to communicate them.  Qualitative discussions go nowhere or downhill fast.  Effective group decisionmaking and motivation only occur with good data on condition and trends,  the latter requiring substantial time series of data.

    4) Education, education, education--Conservation staff must educate themselves on watershed conditions and community characteristics and opinions.  These findings must be used to educate the media and the decision-makers.  Of course, all resource users or actors, from anglers to highway departments to residents, must be educated on good resource management and its benefits.

    5) Supporting existing management institutions--Many of the traditional management and regulatory agencies are destaffed, defunded, and demoralized.  Effective projects will identify pathways to complement and strengthen these agencies.

    6) Linking community elements--Often, apparently disparate community elements have much in common.  Fluvial geomporphology has as much to offer to public works administrators frustrated with their maintenance budgets as it does to landowners frustrated by bank erosion or anglers frustrated by wide, warm channels.

    7) Political economy--If part of the central mission of government is to mediate between short-term and long-term or small-scale and large-scale interests--and it certainly is--then politicians show a remarkable predilection to do the wrong thing.  Media must be used to create political will.

    8) Resource valuation--We all need to be reminded occasionally that these resources provide staggering returns that too often are viewed as externalities, if they are viewed at all.  TU’s initiative calculated that the Beaver Kill/Willowemoc trout fishery created US$8.9 million in local wages, taxes, and economic activity in a town of 4000 residents in a year when angling visitation was down 50% from the average of the previous seven years.  The watershed’s actual benefits--hydrologic, ecological, genetic, aesthetic, and "spiritual"--are, of course, far greater.

About the Speaker: Jock Conyngham, Trout Unlimited, US National Office, is project director of the Beaver Kill-Willowemoc Watershed Initiative, a four-year project administered by Trout Unlimited US and funded by the R.K. Mellon Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
British Columbia’s Watershed Restoration Program

Robert Baldwin described The Watershed Restoration Program, an integrated large-scale restoration program that includes stream, hillslope, riparian and road restoration in logging impacted watersheds throughout the province of British Columbia.

About the Speaker: Mr. Robert Baldwin is the Regional Fisheries Specialist with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks in Nelson, B.C. He is responsible for the Watershed Restoration Program’s stream and riparian restoration component. He has an H.B.Sc. in Environmental Science and Biology from Trent University. Mr. Baldwin has previously worked for the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources before moving to British Columbia.

Fish or Famine

Bill Annable discusses rivers, how they work, what man’s effects have been on them and where do we go from here.

About the Speaker: Bill Annable, M.Sc. (Ph.D. in progress), is an expert in natural channel design, stream morphology, sedimentology, fish habitat enhancement and hydrology, he has held workshops throughout Canada and the US for government personnel, consultants and universities.

The Grand River Fisheries Management Plan

Warren Yerex and Felix Barbetti bring us up to speed on one of the most comprehensive community-based resource management plans in the province.

About the Speakers: Felix Barbetti, MNR 26 years, now area supervisor for the Niagara region, participated in fisheries management on Lake Erie and the Bruce Peninsula. Warren Yerex, is supervisor of Aquatic Resources with the GRCA. As a professional biologist for 18 years, he has worked with many agencies and a host of public and private partners in an effort to improve water quality and fisheries resources in the Grand River watershed.

The Watershed Science Centre

Leon Carl discusses the Watershed Science Centre as an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional alliance for science, training and technology transfer on watershed ecosystem management, health, protection and rehabilitation.

About the Speaker: Leon Carl is an OMNR research scientist. He has worked on many riverine salmonid populations, and is currently working on fish community structure in Southern Ontario streams.

Soil Bioengineering for Stream Rehabilitation

Rick Grillmayer illustrates techniques and case studies using natural materials to remediate aquatic ecosystems.

About the Speaker: Rick Grillmayer, is a Conservation Services Technologist for Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority. He is involved with many aspects of stream rehabilitation, soil bioengineering and forest management.

Stream Naturalization Projects

Glenn Harrington presents case histories of naturalization projects including removal of armour stone and concrete lined channels and their replacement with natural channels using soil bioengineering for stabilization. Monitoring and results of projects were also presented.

About the Speaker: Glenn Harrington, president of Harrington and Hoyle Ltd., has over 25 years experience as a landscape architect. He acts as an advisor to the Integrated Shoreline Management committee at MTRCA. He is also chairman of the Water Task Force of the Conservation Council of Ontario.

The River, Fish and Dissolved Oxygen

Mark Hartley presented an overview of temporal and spatial variations of dissolved oxygen in a river and how dissolved oxygen data is being collected and interpreted in the Grand River.

About the Speaker: Mr. Mark Hartley, P.Eng, is a Water Quality Engineer with the Grand River Conservation Authority. He is responsible for maintaining various water quality simulation models, providing water quality data analysis, interpretation and assessment and development of the water quality monitoring network and information base.

Friends of the Grand: River Watch Program

About the Speaker: Peter Hodgson is a member of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and co-founder of the Nova Scotia Mainland Chapter of Trout Unlimited. He is co-chairman of the River Watch Program for Friends of the Grand River.

Watersheds, Rivers, Fish and People

Jack Imhof gives an overview of how watersheds function (watershed scale), the characteristics of natural channels systems created by functional watersheds (at the reach scale), how fish exploit healthy stream channels and their valleys and the tools available to assist us in managing these rivers as assets rather than liabilities.

About the Speaker: Jack Imhof, is an avid angler/scientist, OMNR research specialist in watersheds, natural channels, stream habitat and high quality fisheries. He is a sought after speaker who has written numerous articles for science, conservation and angling journals.

Understanding Rivers from a Landscape Perspective

Bernard McIntyre illustrates how an understanding of landscape can provide an expectation of the form and function of rivers.

About the Speaker: Bernard McIntyre, has been aquatic biologist at the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for the past seven years, where he has developed watershed strategies for the Don and Humber Rivers, and numerous fish management plans.

Communicating with Communities

Robert Peace discusses utilizing people, politics, the press and technology to communicate with the public and accomplish your environmental objectives.

About the Speaker: Robert Peace is community relations director at Credit Valley Conservation, president of Cebrian Productions, 1992 nominee of the National Conservation Award for the video Fate of the River, and 1994 second prize Outdoor Writers of America winner for Water and the Human Spirit.

Who Competes for the Uses of the River?

Dr. Jon Planck presents a stimulating and thought provoking approach to habitat rehabilitation as a normal part of development.

About the Speaker: Dr. Jon Planck, Ph. D., is an ecologist who has worked with urban systems including streams, rivers and lakes in Ontario for 25 years. Experienced with wild systems from Newfoundland to BC, from the Phillippines to the Subarctic, he has developed policy and designed field studies.

Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund

John Shaw describes the “Cleanup Fund Stream Rehabilitation Program” and its work to develop resource manuals, ecosystem-based management plans and emission trading programs.

About the Speaker: John Shaw, M.Sc. Environmental Studies (University of Waterloo), has more than 20 years experience with the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and since 1990 he has been Manager of Environment Canada’s Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund.

Protecting Ontario Loons from Lead Toxicosis Through Regulatory Reform

Dr. Vernon Thomas discussed how fishing weights ingested by adult Common Loons lead to lead toxicosis. Ontario Government policy options will be discussed in relation to reducing this toxic risk to Common Loons and other fish species.

About the Speaker: Dr. Vernon G. Thomas is a Professor at the University of Guelph who has researched the problem of avian lead toxicosis from gun shot and fishing weights for the past seven years. His special interests are in taking science and extending it to the policy and legislative arenas, and applying modern technology in the remediation of environmental problems. Dr. Thomas has been a leading force behind the federal ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting in Canada, and a ban on lead fishing weights in national parks and national wildlife areas.

Genetic Stock Identification of Nottawasaga and Bighead River Steelhead

Chris Weland presents how rainbow trout mitochondrial DNA can describe population structuring.

About the Speaker: Chris Weland, B.Sc. is currently a research assistant for the fish genetics lab at the University of Guelph. He represents the Severn Sound Nottawasaga Steelheaders as their volunteer fisheries biologist, and has also worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

Laws, R for the past seven years, where he has developed watershed strategies for the Don and Humber Rivers, and numerous fish management plans.
Communicating with Communities

Robert Peace discusses utilizing people, politics, the press and technology to communicate with the public and accomplish your environmental objectives.

About the Speaker: Robert Peace is community relations director at Credit Valley Conservation, president of Cebrian Productions, 1992 nominee of the National Conservation Award for the video Fate of the River, and 1994 second prize Outdoor Writers of America winner for Water and the Human Spirit.

Who Competes for the Uses of the River?

Dr. Jon Planck presents a stimulating and thought provoking approach to habitat rehabilitation as a normal part of development.

About the Speaker: Dr. Jon Planck, Ph. D., is an ecologist who has worked with urban systems including streams, rivers and lakes in Ontario for 25 years. Experienced with wild systems from Newfoundland to BC, from the Phillippines to the Subarctic, he has developed policy and designed field studies.

Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund

John Shaw describes the “Cleanup Fund Stream Rehabilitation Program” and its work to develop resource manuals, ecosystem-based management plans and emission trading programs.

About the Speaker: John Shaw, M.Sc. Environmental Studies (University of Waterloo), has more than 20 years experience with the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and since 1990 he has been Manager of Environment Canada’s Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund.

Protecting Ontario Loons from Lead Toxicosis Through Regulatory Reform

Dr. Vernon Thomas discussed how fishing weights ingested by adult Common Loons lead to lead toxicosis. Ontario Government policy options will be discussed in relation to reducing this toxic risk to Common Loons and other fish species.

About the Speaker: Dr. Vernon G. Thomas is a Professor at the University of Guelph who has researched the problem of avian lead toxicosis from gun shot and fishing weights for the past seven years. His special interests are in taking science and extending it to the policy and legislative arenas, and applying modern technology in the remediation of environmental problems. Dr. Thomas has been a leading force behind the federal ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting in Canada, and a ban on lead fishing weights in national parks and national wildlife areas.

Genetic Stock Identification of Nottawasaga and Bighead River Steelhead

Chris Weland presents how rainbow trout mitochondrial DNA can describe population structuring.

About the Speaker: Chris Weland, B.Sc. is currently a research assistant for the fish genetics lab at the University of Guelph. He represents the Severn Sound Nottawasaga Steelheaders as their volunteer fisheries biologist, and has also worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

Laws, Regulations and Policy

Charley Worte takes us through the maze of laws, regulations and policies that apply to stream and watershed conservation.

About the Speaker: M.Sc. in Hydrology, Water Resources Engineer (both at University of Guelph). He is manager of Watershed Planning with the Credit Valley Conservation, working with watershed (and subwatershed) plans, and their implementation through land use planning regulations.