Flash flooding of the Cheticamp River

The Cheticamp River habitat restoration project, undertaken in partnership between the Cheticamp River Salmon Association and Parks Canada, was recently affected by torrential rainfall and severe flooding. Upwards of 150mm of rain fell late Saturday, August 22nd, and resulted in flash flooding that led to the evacuation of the Cheticamp campgrounds. The heavy rains and flooding also impacted the efforts of the habitat restoration team to improve fish passage through a number of overwidened sites on the lower Cheticamp River.

Fortunately, many of the instream structures appear to have weathered the storm reasonably well, and the combination of the structures helping the river to dig and contributing to the formation of bars, has resulted in the river narrowing and deepening in key locations. The flood was also responsible for deepening and extending some of the existing pools as well as forming a number of new pools. Not surprising given the severity of the flood, however, the Cheticamp River also suffered many negative impacts from this most recent natural disaster including extensive damage to banks in places (including the loss of large hardwoods), loss of fish (mostly juveniles), and massive accumulations of trees and other woody debris.

 View of the Cheticamp River post-flood with large accumulations of debris along the West bank (Photo credit: Lewis Hinks)

View of the Cheticamp River post-flood with large accumulations of debris along the West bank (Photo credit: Lewis Hinks)

 Archie Doucette, with Parks Canada, standing beside a large pile of debris near the outlet of Robert's Brook

Archie Doucette, with Parks Canada, standing beside a large pile of debris near the outlet of Robert's Brook

 Massive oak deposited by the flood on a newly formed bar below Fence Pool

Massive oak deposited by the flood on a newly formed bar below Fence Pool

Members of the Cheticamp River Salmon Association have been on the ground since the flood helping to locate fish that were left stranded outside of the main river after the waters receded. In addition to helping to return well over 100 juveniles to the river, the CRSA was also able to help catch a large adult salmon that was trapped in some water off the Salmon Pools trail and release it safely back into the river.

 Jerry LeBlanc, with Parks Canada, releasing a large salmon that was found stranded off the Salmon Pools trail

Jerry LeBlanc, with Parks Canada, releasing a large salmon that was found stranded off the Salmon Pools trail

 Jillian Baker, with the Cheticamp River Salmon Association, helping release a large adult salmon

Jillian Baker, with the Cheticamp River Salmon Association, helping release a large adult salmon

Although the August flooding will create delays and necessitate some modifications to the work plan, the restoration team is already making plans to proceed with the instream work.