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TIDAL BORE ATTRACTS TOURISTS FROM ASIA

These ladies from Taiwan made certain to come to Moncton during their Atlantic Canada trip, because they had heard about the Tidal Bore and wanted to see it for themselves. They ran into Petitcodiac Riverwatcher Georges Brun, who stopped by to chat with them and find out more about their travels. They had flown into Halifax and had Moncton’s Tidal Bore on their New Brunswick itinerary, along with Fundy National Park. Next stops for this group would be Prince Edward Island and seeing the icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador. Seems our Petitcodiac River is gaining momentum as a world-class tourist attraction all the way in Asia!

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ROGER LEBLANC: BIRD WATCHING MAKES YOU APPRECIATE THE RIVER SO MUCH MORE

Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and video: Georges Brun
Music: Mario LeBreton

“There is nothing like being in the marshes along the Petitcodiac River in the morning, with the mist rising and the sun’s rays starting to slowly heat the air. You can hear the birds singing… It’s good for the soul.”

It was his love of ornithology that brought Roger Leblanc to become involved in the protection and restoration of the Petitcodiac River. He is a member of the Petitcodiac Riverkeepers and has taken part over several years in the Christmas Bird Count, an annual census of birds by thousands of volunteer and professional birders all over North America as well as in South America. Leblanc leads the count in Moncton, trying to identify and track as many species and individuals as possible over an area that covers 24 km in diameter from the city’s centre and includes the marshes surrounding the Petitcodiac River.

“I remember that before we opened the tidal control structure gates, I use to go to Bell Marsh in Salisbury,” he recalls. “I would observe the marshes around the artificial lake. It was a dead lake – there was almost no animal life. But since the opening of the locks, I see lots of animal life coming back to this marsh. It’s really amazing how quickly nature reclaims her territory when she is left to her own devices.”

Leblanc hails from Campbellton and has always been an outdoor enthusiast. He studied at the Université de Moncton, and then settled in our region. He has worked in television production for many years. He’s made some ​nature documentaries, and developed a passion for wildlife and flora in the process, resulting in his favorite hobby: bird watching.

“I especially love bird watching this time of the year, in the spring. I try to go out at least 2 or 3 times a week to the marshes along the banks of the river. Nature changes so quickly, it’s this incredible theatrical performance that I feel privileged to attend. Spring sees the return of the Red-winged Blackbird, swallows and duck species. There’s the Nelson’s Sparrow, one of my very favorite species, very unique to our region. If we ever want to give Greater Moncton an official bird, I would recommend the Nelson’s Sparrow.”

Leblanc says that for him, the tidal bore gaining momentum since the opening of the gates in 2010 is only the icing on the cake when it comes to all the positive changes that he’s been noticing in regards to the health of the Petitcodiac River.

“The river and its wildlife are always evolving. For example, I see a lot more species of ducks along the riverbanks as well as other birds for which the river is a natural habitat. Some other species, such as seagulls, are less present. We used to have a big problem with seagulls, there were too many – it was too easy for them as they simply could feed on the fish that were getting stuck trying to go through the gates. Now that the fish are able to pass through the opened gates, there are fewer gulls near the causeway. Also, as the river’s mud banks gradually erode, shorebirds like sandpipers that use to live on the banks are now migrating upstream – making their nests in places that are a more natural habitat for them. This is normal, a sign that the river is returning to its natural state and that the wildlife is adapting.”

Leblanc says it’s a shame more people are not aware of the richness and diversity of our region’s flora and fauna. “We are very fortunate to live in a city where, within a few minutes, you can be in a salt marsh observing the wildlife. For bird lovers, there are several species in our region that cannot be found anywhere else. People come from all over the world to see species like my friend, the Nelson’s Sparrow which has a very distinctive song.”

“When you start learning about birds and know more about their stories, the great migrations they undertake and what makes each species unique, you start to appreciate nature a lot more and you want to protect it.”

His vision for the future of the Petitcodiac River?

“We must give the river – and nature – the chance to reclaim their rights. I hope someday we will remove the tidal control structure and the causeway and replace them with a bridge. The area where the artificial lake used to be has great potential – it could become a much more interesting place if we gave the river a chance to regain its natural width. I envision a beautiful marsh, with boardwalks for people to be able to walk around and watch the birds.”

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PETITCODIAC RIVERKEEPER ALERTS CITY OF MONCTON THAT SNOW DUMP IS TOO CLOSE TO THE MARSH

By Petitcodiac Riverwatcher Georges Brun
Editing: Monique Arsenault

On one of my recent patrols this past month, I discovered a pile of snow near the traffic circle on Moncton’s West Main Street (at the entrance of the old city dump), which could cause serious problems for the ecosystem of the marshes surrounding this area.

Known as the Causeway Snow Storage facility, the site is used by the municipality for snow removal operations in the downtown area. It is located immediately southeast of the West Main Street traffic circle. The Petitcodiac River is located approximately 600 metres south of the causeway site. The area between the disposal site and the river is occupied by marsh. This marsh is mapped as a Provincially Significant Wetland by the New Brunswick Department of the Environment. As such, to protect water quality, the Province has recommended that the City of Moncton maintain a buffer between the snow pile and the marsh.

The Causeway snow storage facility currently has a colossal mound of snow, the result of this past winter, which is filled with waste and gravel. Given the amount of snow that is here, the buffer has not been respected. Petitcodiac Riverkeeper was worried that this huge mound of snow, which is melting slowly, would have negative repercussions on the surrounding wetland.

You can see the snow dump’s vastness here thanks to Google Maps. The snow pile (shown in brown) is located near a pond (shown in green), which is part of the marshes and wetlands surrounding the Petitcodiac River.

Snow pile, seen from afar.

RiverWatcher Georges Brun on top of the mound of snow. Also visible are the large pond and surrounding wetland nearby.

The snow pile is huge and will therefore take a long time to melt. As you can see in the photos below, it is filled with waste and gravel. The winds often carry the trash to neighbouring areas, polluting and harming the fragile wetland habitat nearby.

Snowmelt runoff can contain significant amounts of contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons, metals, chloride and heavy sediments. The gravel and the contaminants could make their way into the adjacent pond and marsh where many birds such as Canada Geese, Green-winged Teals and Song Sparrows live and nest.

Petitcodiac Riverkeeper thus alerted the City and made the following recommendations:

1- We recommend that the City of Moncton send a team to pick up litter found on snow dump before the wind starts making trash fall in the surrounding marshes. We also recommend putting a fence around the dump to prevent the trash from being blown away.

2 – We recommend the City of Moncton send a bulldozer to push the gravel back so it does not fall into the marsh as well as to break up the ice so that the snow melts faster.

3 – We recommend placing signs on the site in order to properly define the wetland protection zone, which should be respected at all times.

Representatives from the City of Moncton assured us that they would take action immediately and have started to implement some of our recommendations. They have installed geotextile near the snow pile to help capture garbage and prevent it from being blown off site towards the walking trail, wetland, and the Petitcodiac River. Additionally, municipal staff were instructed to pick up the garbage in the snow. For security reasons, sending a bulldozer or excavator is just not feasible for now.

The City monitors surface water quality each spring at each of its snow storage facilities. It assures us that in past years, contaminants that can be found in street snow have historically been below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Freshwater Aquatic Life.

We have also been assured that next year (winter of 2014-15), the buffer will be staked to ensure that snow is not deposited beyond the buffer area. Municipal staff will be educated to respect this buffer area and it will be clearly identified.

We thank the City of Moncton for its prompt reply. We would like to especially thank Melissa Lee who came to inspect the site with us and implemented our recommendations.

Melissa Lee also invited us to visit the new Berry Mills mega site, which will be used as a snow dump in the future by the City of Moncton. It is a unique, one-of-a-kind project in Atlantic Canada.

This modern snow storage facility will reduce the negative effects of snowmelt on the surrounding environment thanks to a buffer zone and conduit. The City of Moncton, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, plans to build four basins, which will filter the water melting off the snow pile, thereby minimizing its impact on the fauna and flora of the adjacent wetlands.

We will keep our members and the community informed of developments on this project.

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SIGNS OF SPRING ALONG THE BANKS OF THE PETITCODIAC RIVER

By Petitcodiac Riverwatcher Georges Brun

Finally, warmer weather is here! Spring’s arrival can be spotted a variety of ways along the banks of our dear Petitcodiac River. Warming temperatures not only melt the ice on the river, but also the hearts of all residents of the Petitcodiac River watershed who go outside to enjoy the sun and warmth by taking a stroll along the river’s banks.

In the spring, we get to see nature come back to life. It’s an ideal time to see firsthand how our river sustains a variety of plants and animals. Here are a few telltale signs of spring you may have noticed.

Flooding in the Wetlands

Severe flooding has been a problem this year. When winter begins earlier than usual and there is a warming in January (as was the case this year), there is often flooding on Acadie Avenue in Dieppe. The flooding is due in large part to Babineau Creek, which has been affected by the tidal control structure since its construction in 1968. Several small streams feed the creek and water thus overflows unto the marshes around Dieppe and Chartersville. In the past, Babineau Creek use to cross Acadie Avenue. The control structure changed the geomorphology of the Petitcodiac River, eventually clogging the mouth of Babineau Creek. During spring thaw, waters often fills the marshes and floods the road.

When the snow melts, it’s often necessary to take drastic measures to ensure that the drainage of Babineau Creek is successful. These pictures shows the City of Dieppe digging a bypass channel.

Halls Marsh, north of the Petitcodiac River, is also often flooded in the spring. Halls Creek has two branches named West Branch Halls Creek and North Branch Halls Creek. In the past, the Halls basin was left virgin, but economic development favored the construction of dams, roads and buildings. During heavy rains, there is often flooding thanks to all this development, since the earth is no longer able to function like a natural sponge as it should.

Crowley Farm Road has thus become a target for flooding when there are heavy rains and melting snow. The road was built in the early 1980s. Previously, there was no backfilling along Connaught Avenue and the baseball field was part of the marsh. The bridge over Halls Creek required entrance and exit ramps. Excess landfill was placed on the marsh. There is always a price to pay when you fill a wetland.

Flooded marsh near Halls Creek. There is always a price to pay when you fill a wetland.

Fish Swim Upstream and Birds Make their Nests.

A more positive sign of spring’s arrival is the presence of fish swimming in the 5 major rivers upstream from the Petitcodiac River’s tidal control structure. Double-crested Cormorants are an indicator that there are fish in the river and that the river is providing a healthy habitat. Downstream from the control structure, there are always birds taking advantage of the excellent fishing conditions, feeding on smelt or shad or even eels and lampreys. Upstream, bald eagles gather to feed on the fish that get pushed back by the river’s tides.

Cormorants feed on fish – a sign that fish stocks are slowly returning to normal in the river.

Bald eagle. This large bird feeds on other birds (gulls, ducks) and small animals (muskrats). It is also an excellent fisherman.

Canada Geese were introduced in our region in the late 90s and are now part of the Petitcodiac River’s sustainable ecosystem. In the spring, we can witness the migration of over 125 Canada Geese that come to build nests.

Canada Geese nesting. Here, a male keeps a watchful eye to protect his female.

Several other birds make their appearance in early spring. Some of the most common species we get to see are the Common Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, Great Blue Heron, robins, buntings, the Red-winged Blackbird, etc. It’s a delight to hear their songs at the beginning of spring.

The American Goldfinch’s appearance in the region is a telltale sign that spring has arrived.

Animals Come Out of Hibernation

In addition to birds, there are also muskrats, red foxes, deer and even sometimes moose that can be seen along the river’s banks.

A beaver hut built near the Humphreys Brook restoration project. Beavers have an important role to play in the forest’s regeneration.

Even with a large territory and an abundance of small mammals, weather conditions affect the fox’s hunt. When you spot a red fox out hunting in late February, you can rest assured that spring is around the corner.

The Marshes Become Vibrant with Color.

Spring is the time when trees and plants regenerate. Flowers make their appearance and attract insects and small birds. Tree buds and plants bring color to the marshes: yellow, orange, red and green.

Alder catkins. One of the first indicators that spring is here.

Perennial plant often known as the “Mayflower”.

Cycling and Hiking Season Begins

Finally, the sun and the warm weather encourages young and old alike to get out their bicycles and enjoy the trail along the Chocolate River, an ideal place for cycling. For residents of the Petitcodiac River watershed, a walk or bike ride along the trail can be a great opportunity to see many of the signs of spring mentioned in this blog. They might even be lucky enough to see the tidal bore surge with all its glory, its waters now free of winter’s ice.

Happy spring!

Maurice Leblanc and Jean-Guy Duguay (Petitcodiac Riverkeeper members) out for a bike ride along the Riverfront Trail.

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CINDY ROY SHARES HER PASSION FOR STORYTELLING THROUGH FÉELI TOUT, A FAIRY THAT LIVES AMONG THE MARSHES OF THE PETITCODIAC RIVER

Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and video: Georges Brun et Cindy Roy with contributions from Rachel Richard-Léger
Music: Monique Poirier
Special thanks to: Catherine, Rachelle and Éliane Desjardins.

“Reading is surrendering to our imagination… In my opinion, this is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

It is this passion that Cindy Roy loves to share with children. The Dieppe-based author has published a series of mini-novels (i-Fée and Fée Planchette – Éditions Boomerang), which is very popular among young francophone readers. The main character and inspiration behind the series, which Cindy enjoys impersonating, is Féeli Tout, a storytelling fairy who enchants young and old alike.

Who would have thought that the Petitcodiac River would inspire Féeli Tout and all of Cindy’s stories? Sure enough, Féeli Tout is a fairy that lives among the marshes of the chocolate river.

“When they opened the causeway gates, I saw the tidal bore come back to life”, recalls Cindy. “Strangely enough, this was around the same time as I was coming back to life as well, by discovering myself as writer and storyteller. The river was becoming itself again. It is as if the river was giving me the courage to just be ME and follow my heart.”

“For the past three years, I’ve gone out by the river quite often. This is where I discovered myself as a writer and storyteller.”

She says she experienced several self-awareness and revelatory moments by the banks of the river.

“Whenever I walk along the river, I find inspiration. I really wanted to write something that takes place right here, next to the Peticodiac River.”

Cindy hails from the small village of Charlo in the Chaleur region in New Brunswick. She has lived in Dieppe for 20 years. A former teacher, she is the mother of 3 children and lives in a house about two feet away from an access to the riverfront trail. At first, she did not know that the river’s presence, and its tidal bore, would have a huge impact on her life.

“For a long time, I’ve had my work station set up overlooking the marsh. To think of it, I’ve always been very attracted to the river. When I came to Moncton to study at the university, the Chocolate River’s banks became my refuge. This is where I would go to read or think. I would feel calm and at peace when I was near to the river. “

“A few years ago, I started a fundraiser for a friend of mine who has Multiple Sclerosis. I gave myself the goal to bike 20 km per day for each $20 donation. In the evening, I wrote a blog about my adventures and what I saw along the river’s banks. I biked for 40 days. I saw spring come and transform the landscape. I saw how alive this area is. This experience – and the river – made me realize how much I love writing and that I wanted to dedicate my life to it.”

Cindy took a sabbatical to concentrate on her writing. In 2012, she started taking part in book fairs and shows for children, dressed as her fictional character, Féeli Tout.

“When I dress up as Féeli Tout and tell stories to children, I always start by telling them: My name is Féeli Tout and I live in among the marshes of the Chocolate River. I’ve done presentations to children everywhere, so they’ve heard about the Petitcodiac River in Quebec and Ontario…. Our river is much better known than we think! A young girl even once told me: I wanna see the Chocolate River … and your magical marsh full of books! Can you take me away with you on your wings?

What makes the Petitcodiac River so inspirational for this artist?

“It is a peaceful place and at the same time full of life and energy. The tidal bore always surprises me, like some sort of sign… Almost every time I go out, even without paying attention to the tide schedule, the tidal bore is there. The wave gives me energy. When I walk or bike near the river, the ideas just flow.”

Like many people who enjoy this beautiful place, Cindy firmly believes in the importance of protecting its environment. “We must take care of our river and let it evolve.”

“This is my river. It is part of me, just like my characters who live among its banks.”

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THE RIVER CONTINUES TO SHRINK UPSTREAM, DESPITE THE OPENING OF THE CAUSEWAY GATES

By Petitcodiac RiverWatcher Georges Brun
Editing: Monique Arsenault

Do you know that the tidal bore ends at Turtle Creek?

If you visit the area where the Petitcodiac River reaches Turtle Creek during the winter months, you might be able to spot the distance between 4 or 5 successive tides, indicated by breaks in the ice. These breaks show where the Petitcodiac River’s tidal bore ends its journey. Once it has made its way under the causeway and through the tidal control structure, the bore reaches different stretches upstream depending on the strength of daily tides. The breaks in the ice are the result of water pressure that pushes upwards on the ice. You can see one of these breaks in the image below, which clearly shows where a bore ended.

One question I would like to run by my readers is the following: if the tidal control structure and the causeway between Moncton and Riverview was replaced by a bridge, would the bore go further?

The Gates Are Too Low

The tidal control structure beneath the causeway linking Moncton and Riverview was built between 1966 and 1968.

This control structure is part of the land and not the river itself. It was in operation until April 2010 when the Provincial Court decided that the province should open the floodgates to help the migration of many species of fish and facilitate a more natural flow.

Although the river is doing increasingly well since the opening of gates, expanding and regaining its natural flow downstream, it is shrinking more and more upstream. The tidal control structure is contributing to this problem. Here is why.

The water level at high tide can be quite elevated in winter, even more so when water is covered with a sheet of ice. Melting ice and snow, heavy rains, as well as local and regional temperature variations all influence the river’s flow.

The tidal control structure’s gates are only partially open. The opening could be made much larger. You can see the height of the gates in the photo below, taken at a low tide.

The gates could be raised by at least one meter.

Currently, the gates are not high enough to allow the river to flow naturally during very high tides in the winter and spring. The ice sheet on the river has a hard time passing through, often hitting the gates, which impedes its passage and slows down the river’s flow.

The Control Structure Acts Like a Funnel

The control structure hardly exceeds 50 meters in width while the river downstream is about 400 meters wide. Imagine all that volume of water trying to make its way through such a tight space! The control structure acts like a funnel, reducing the river’s strength and preventing it from flowing as naturally as possible.


Without the Passage of Ice and an Adequate Volume of Water, the River Will Continue to Narrow Upstream

The passage of ice is important to support the natural drainage and erosion process that needs to take place in the river. Without this process, the river will continue to narrow upstream. In the image below, we can see that the river is becoming narrower in Riverview, where the artificial lake once was. In winter, sediments accumulate and freeze, requiring lots of heat and a greater volume of water to be eroded.

Gravel Deposits Upstream

Finally, note the accumulation of gravel near the control structure, left by melted ice. Gravel accumulates when the ice is unable to pass through to the other side of the control structure under the causeway and is thus pushed back, dropping sediments along the banks of the river.

The Solution: Remove the Control Structure

Opening the causeway gates in 2010 has certainly helped the river regain its natural flow. However, I believe that the control structure’s gates could be lifted even higher to allow a greater volume of water to pass through. I also hope that we can one day completely remove the causeway and control structure and replace them both with a bridge of adequate height. The tidal bore could thus continue its journey much further than Turtle Creek. Over time, the river’s natural erosion process would help widen the river where the artificial lake once was. We would thus enjoy the beauty and health of our river, now longer, wider and more majestic, having regained its former glory.

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LONG-TIME PETITCODIAC RIVERKEEPER VOLUNTEER GEORGES BRUN DEDICATED TO PROTECTING THE RIVER

Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and Video: Nathalie Landry, Georges Brun, Mario Cyr, Brian Branch
Music: Rocket Culture

You may have seen him wandering around the banks of the Petitcodiac River, taking photographs, wearing his trademark goretex, dark shades and a baseball cap. You may have wondered what he is documenting or why anyone would be out so close to the river, especially in the winter months with freezing temperatures. Fact is, long-time Petitcodiac Riverkeeper volunteer Georges Brun is passionate about and knows quite a bit about the river. An official Riverwatcher, he is dedicated to observing and documenting the river as well as any activity taking place around it, in order to deter potential polluters and make sure the river’s health continues to improve.

A Moncton resident since birth, Brun grew up in the old Parkton area and studied at the Université de Moncton. He’s an outdoor enthusiast, has studied water management, and was one of the key players involved in putting public pressure on the Province leading to the opening of the causeway gates in 2010. He remains to this day one of river’s most adamant defenders.

“I was 4 or 5 years old the first time I saw the tidal bore. It had a big impact on me. The river is really an icon for our region. I guess you could say that I’ve always been an environmentalist. In the past, we’ve had a pretty bad relationship with managing our waterways. I remember back in the day when the sewers would empty out into various creeks of the area. I was very concerned when they first built the causeway, certain it would be bad for the river.”

Concerned with water quality, Brun was one of the founding members of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance in 1996. The group set up more than 40 freshwater and saltwater monitoring stations throughout the Petitcodiac and Memramcook River basins. His knowledge of water quality got him involved with Riverkeeper Daniel LeBlanc and other like-minded individuals who eventually formed the Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper organization in 1999 to lead restoration and protection efforts for the Petitcodiac River. He remembers how alarming the situation was becoming.

“Fish stocks were on the decline. Salmons could not continue their migratory pattern up the river, and so fishermen in Salisbury started to notice that there were no more fish in their area. Each year, the river kept getting narrower, since the control structure was stopping the tide’s natural mud erosion process. At one point, I took a picture of herons in the river near the causeway gates. The river channel was so narrow and shallow at that area that they were almost stuck in the mud. It was frightening to see how low the water level had become. And the tidal bore, well it became, as you know, so minuscule that people were calling it the “total bore”.”

The Petitcodiac River’s channel had become alarmingly narrow and shallow, especially at low tide. Photo taken in 2001.

Brun started documenting all this a long time ago and his photos show the river’s evolution. He is happy to see the river regain its strength since the opening of the gates. People don’t realize what a precious ecosystem the river supports, he says.

“I see a lot of wildlife by the river: deer, foxes, beavers, turtles, all kinds of birds and many species of fish. The tides that roll in are important to our region’s climate too. We use to see a lot of fog back when I was a kid. The coldwater has a cooling effect on our region during the hot summer evenings. We’re only now starting to see more fog again, since the river is able to flow more naturally. The river is slowly eroding and clearing up its muddy banks. I also see people enjoying and appreciating the river a lot more.”

He warns that while the causeway remains in place, the control structure still impedes the river’s complete natural flow. And without the full force of the tide being able to reach the other side of the control structure’s gates, the river may continue to become narrower where the artificial lake use to be.

Other problems include pollution and ongoing urban development that does not take into account the importance of the region’s watershed.

Georges Brun documents wildlife on the Petitcodiac River and its banks, like this snowy owl, common raven and red fox seen over the winter months in 2014.

“There are always those who turn a blind eye in the name of development. When the causeway was built, the river became narrower, and we thus underestimated our limits in terms of where we should and should not build. Now that the river is regaining its natural flow and becoming wider, you would think that this would be a wake-up call and that we will realise the importance of respecting nature when deciding to build new buildings, roads and sewer lines. While volunteers like myself and people like Terry Hebert, Roger Dubois and Ernest Arsenault who care deeply about the river are busy monitoring and working on restoration projects in certain areas, we can’t be everywhere at once and we can’t always stop negative development from happening.”

He remains optimistic though. “My purpose is to alert people to what is going on. Hopefully by reporting things, we can deter potential polluters and question negative development. We also want to make sure the gates remain open in hopes that one day we can replace the control structure and roadway with a bridge and really allow our precious river to become the mighty Petitcodiac River it once was.”

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OUR VISION FOR HUMPHREYS BROOK: A HEALTHY HABITAT FOR ALL FISH, ANIMALS AND PEOPLE TO ENJOY IN THE URBAN CENTER OF MONCTON.

Text: Nathalie Landry, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos: Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, Charles LeGresley, Georges Brun

For many years, Petitcodiac Riverkeeper had led research and put pressure on the City of Moncton to remove an abandoned dam on Humphreys Brook.

As you may know, Humphreys Brook, located in eastern Moncton, is part of the Halls Creek sub-watershed, which is part of the larger Petitcodiac River catchment basin (2071 km2). While this important freshwater stream helps sustain our region’s biodiversity by providing habitat to various species of fish, amphibians, aquatic plants, invertebrates, and microorganisms, it also is an essential supply of water and food for many types of animals.

A 4.7-metre high, 9.1-metre-long dam was built at the turn of the past century to generate power for Humphreys Mill, which now sits idle (underneath the old Mill Road Bridge in Moncton). The dam had served no economic or social purpose since the early 1970s; the mill operation had long since been closed, and the headpond was filled with sediment and debris. Based on Micmac oral tradition and the fact that even smaller neighbouring tributaries of the Petitcodiac River watershed historically sustained Atlantic Salmon runs, we assumed that Humphreys Brook had sustained an Atlantic Salmon run before the dam was built.

When the City of Moncton decided to remove the abandoned dam in 2013, it allowed Humphreys Brook to reclaim its natural flow. Decommissioning the dam, along with phase one of the project, took place over the spring and summer months, reinstating fish passage in more than 9 km of good quality fish habitat in our region.

To begin the restoration project, an assessment of the restoration and planting sites was conducted. A list of native tree species to be planted was created and the quantities of trees were estimated based on the area to be re-vegetated. Many photographs of debris and erosion were taken to evaluate the work that needed to be completed. Given obvious signs of erosion present, soil bioengineering and biotechnical slope stabilization methods were planned.

Following the primary restoration plan, potential for hazards and exposure risks were assessed, considering the location where the work was to be carried out. Location maps were obtained and signed approvals and letters of consent were secured from property owners. A Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Permit from New Brunswick’s Department of Environment was obtained.

Partnerships with the city, local businesses, schools, collaborators and volunteers were developed. Agreements with restoration specialists and contractors were signed, and tree seedlings and live cuttings were ordered.

Phase two of the project thus started in the fall of 2013 and included removing tons of debris and blockages such as wood planks, tires, pieces of metal, concrete and garbage from the brook and its banks. Banks were be stabilized and restored by planting native species of woody vegetation. Biotechnical slope stabilization structures were also constructed in areas of severe runoff and erosion.

The success of this project is already visible today. It will be interesting to see the changes over the years when the trees have grown, erosion problems have become unnoticeable and the water runs free once again. Our vision for Humphreys Brook is that it becomes a healthy habitat for all fish, animals and people to enjoy in the urban center of Moncton.

We hope you enjoy the following images from this important restoration project. We are most grateful to our partners and the community for their continued support of our work.

Here we can see some before and after pictures of the Humphreys Brook dam site before, during and after demolition of the dam. The City of Moncton removed the dam in August 2013.

Lots of debris (wood planks, tires and concrete pipes) could be seen in the water and along the banks of Humphreys Brook prior to the restoration project.

One of the partners in the project, Tri-Province Enterprises, was brought in along with its heavy machinery to remove debris from the brook. Along 500 metres of the stream, over 20,000 lbs of debris were removed, weighed and disposed.

Incredible to think that all of that was in the brook. It is now all gone!

Run-off and soil erosion areas before the restoration project began.

Petitcodiac Riverkeeper volunteers in action! Here we see the construction of biotechnical slope stabilization structures. Structures were constructed using Willow and Red Osier Dogwood cuttings.

Erosion control after slope stabilization structures construction.

Humpreys Brooks banks before revegetation.

More than 1,700 native tree species were planted on the banks. They include: White Birch, Yellow Birch, Silver Maple, White Elm, White Pine, Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Serviceberry, Balsam Poplar, Red Osier Dogwood, Willow, Trembling Aspen, Hawthorn, Meadowsweet, Common Elderberry and Choke Cherry.

One of the best parts of the project was the many public outreach activities. Here, we see small trees being planted with the help of students from École Champlain.

Stream banks after revegetation.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, the RBC Blue Water Project, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment/Gulf of Maine Association, Tri-Province Enterprises, Encorp Atlantic and the City of Moncton.

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MELVIN PEREZ PROUD TO BE A PETITCODIAC TIDAL BORE SURFING PIONEER

Text: Nathalie Landry
Editing: Monique Arsenault
Photos and videos: Georges Brun and Charles LeGresley, with contributions from Melvin Perez.
Music: Les Païens

Melvin Perez with Petitcodiac Riverkeeper President Pierre Landry.

Costa Rica native and new Moncton resident Melvin Perez has a special relationship with the Petitcodiac River. He has seen its power and beauty firsthand, from a place not many citizens have ever been.

From the inside.

“You get a whole new perspective of the city. It kind of feels like you are in this canyon looking up at the river banks and the mud. You feel the power of the waves. The river is truly alive.”

Perez was one of the pioneers to surf the Petitcodiac’s tidal bore. An avid surfer in his home country, he arrived in Moncton in 2012 and was quickly intrigued by our tidal bore.

“My wife is from New Brunswick and we had lived together in Costa Rica in a small beach town called Tamarindo for almost 11 years. After a while, she was missing her home, so we decided to give Moncton a try. I missed surfing a lot, it was a big part of my life. I knew about the river, that it had a high tide and low tide, but it wasn’t until one day when I was riding my bike by the path next to it that I saw this wave come in, going about the same speed as my bike. I immediately thought to myself “Oh my God, what is this?”. That’s when I learned about the tidal bore. I was very excited and started telling everybody that there was a potential to surf this wave. Why wasn’t anybody surfing?”

Of course, people told Perez his idea was crazy. He would get stuck in the mud, they said, or the water was polluted.

Discouraged, Perez, who is a bartender at the Chateau Moncton, had to be content just to watch the tidal bore roll in everyday. He would watch, mesmerized, finding in the phenomenon a bit of familiarity and comfort.

“It’s kind of funny. Here I was in my new town, working right next to the wave coming in everyday, just like when I was in Costa Rica, working right next to the ocean.”

As fate would have it, it was thanks to his job “next to the wave” that Perez would meet Californian surfers JJ Wessels and Colin Whitbread in July 2013.

“One night, I saw these guys come in with surfboards at the hotel, checking in. I immediately went to greet them and asked them if they were headed down to Halifax to surf at Lawrencetown. They told me no, that they were actually in Moncton to surf the wave here.”

Intrigued, Perez decided to jump on the occasion.

“I knew I couldn’t ride the entire 29 km with them. I hadn’t surfed in so long and I was not ready for that. So I decided I would start near the Chateau Moncton and wait for the bore to come in there.”

Perez says the first experience was incredible. Word had gotten out and he was surprised to see an audience when he headed out to the river the next day.

“I was full of adrenaline. There were so many people watching. When that first wave came in, I was so nervous that I fell. Looking to my left, I could see the big wave right next to me with the Californian surfers and the sea-doos. It was just unreal.”

Perez was hooked. He kept going down to the river time and time again over the course of the week, determined to catch the tidal bore’s wave and surf it for as long as he could. He kept going, even when all the other surfers left town.

“Some months, I would be out on the river many times, some months less, depending on how strong the bore was. At times, I would have the entire river to myself. Sometimes, I would see people riding their bikes or walking along the path and they would stop and wave at me, clap and cheer me on. Some people wanted to take pictures with me. It’s a nice feeling to see the citizens realizing that their river is very much alive.”

Perez has now surfed the tidal bore 43 times. He tries to surf it longer each time.

Surfing the tidal bore is also very different than surfing ocean waves, which is part of the big draw Perez now sees in our river for the surfing community.

“This wave is different. First of all, you know at what time it is coming, so you can plan ahead. But you never know how strong it is going to be. And the adrenaline is incredible, because there is only one wave and you do not want to miss it.”

He warns that surfing the bore is not for the inexperienced.

“Sometimes, the wave is not that big. You have to be careful. I have seen rocks, wood, garbage and metal things. I have had my foot stuck among some rocks when trying to get down to the river or come out of it. The current can be very strong and it never stops. You have to know where you can safely exit the river. This is not a place to learn how to surf.”

He sees the renewed interest in the Petitcodiac river through surfing as a good thing and hopes that the City will be prompted to continue work on the restoration of the river, so that it can flow like before and have better water quality. He also hopes that the river will not end up being too crowded.

“The river is now part of my life here in Moncton. It’s a beautiful wonder that we have right here.”

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MELVIN PEREZ’S 40TH SURF ON THE PETITCODIAC

MONCTON (December 4, 2013) – A series of very good bores are expected to roll in this week. On Thursday, December 5, 2013, Moncton resident and native Costa Rican Melvin Perez will descend on his 40th tidal bore at 11:12am. He will start his journey behind Little Caesars restaurant at 18 Champlain Street in Dieppe and aim to reach Moncton’s Tidal Bore Park.

Melvin Perez surfed for the first time on the Petitcodiac River on July 23, 2013.
If conditions are favourable, he hopes to establish a personal annual record of 40 surfs on the bore. This will also be a world record for surfing the Petitcodiac’s tidal bore.

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Information:

Melvin Perez
858-0528 (home)
870-4444 (work after 4pm: bartender at Château Moncton)
silvestre_u2@yahoo.com