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.
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.
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.