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July 2, 2014
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Cape Breton Road closure helps salmon return to Clark’s Creek

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal

Partial closure of a clay road in eastern Queens County due to erosion has proved to be good news for salmon in Clark’s Creek, says Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey.

“Our department has worked since 2008 to reduce persistent runoff from the Cape Breton Road, which produces sediment that is harmful to fish and fish habitat,” Minister Vessey said. “Closing a portion of the road proved to be the right environmental choice and the permanent solution we were looking for.”

Surface-water runoff from elevated banks on either side had been washing onto Cape Breton Road, which runs between Fort Augustus and Watervale (Queens County). The runoff eroded the road surface as it flowed downhill, eventually depositing muddy sediment into Clark’s Creek – a tributary of the Pisquid River – that covered salmon spawning beds.

The entire road was temporarily closed to traffic in December 2011 so sediment collection ponds and diversions could be built to redirect the water into forested buffer zones. This February, the department permanently closed a 715-metre portion of the road.

Since the partial road closure, vegetation has been re-established on the road surface that greatly reduces the possibility for future erosion. The change has had a positive impact on the environment.

“Our watershed group has worked with landowners and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to reduce the amount of sediment from Cape Breton Road, which has degraded the habitat downstream in Clark’s Creek for years,” said Angela Douglas, coordinator of the Pisquid River Enhancement Project. “After much work – and the eventual closing of the road – we are seeing successful salmon spawning downstream for the first time since 2008.”

Although there are no homes on the closed portion of the road, local landowners still use the road to access their properties for woodlot management and other activities. In the long term these landowners will be provided with a key to a locked gate to ensure access is available.

“The project could not have succeeded without the cooperation and patience of the neighbouring landowners,” Minister Vessey added. “This has been a good example of government and residents working together on a solution that ultimately benefits all Islanders.

Media Contact: Samantha MacKinnon
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