Bonaparte River Watershed Restoration Project

The objective of the project was to complete 14 riparian and streambank restoration sites to add to a growing list of nearly one hundred restoration sites now completed within the Bonaparte watershed over the past 9 years by the Bonaparte watershed Stewardship Society and its partners. The restoration projects are developed with landowner cooperation and undertaken under the lead of the BWSS with the intention to incrementally improve fish and fish habitat and promote human education, participation and behaviour change within the context of a long term, watershed scale riparian and streambank restoration program. This watershed sustainability planning process follows the pattern used in the sister Salmon River watershed which is now showing watershed scale success after 17 years of similar activity. The long term goal of the Bonaparte River watershed restoration activity is to reverse a 130 year historical trend of stream and streambank degradation and fish habitat loss marked by lost riparian vegetation, severely eroding streambanks, high summer temperatures, declining salmon stocks and other issues. A community driven watershed planning process was completed using FSWP funding in 2008, which directs short and long term efforts to 11 focus areas that support watershed sustainability, including riparian area restoration. The 14 restoration sites reported here were completed during the 2009-2010 project cycle using approaches that are becoming familiar to local landowners as demonstration sites, tours and further restoration partnerships develop. This years projects were accomplished with support from FSWP, CP , FRISP, DFO, BIB, landowners and others. Fish habitat improvement was achieved in terms of streambank structure, planted areas, instream complexity, scour pool, invertebrate micro-habitat availability, decreased sediment inputs, as well as a willingness of previously unwilling landowners to try current bioengineering practices to restore property and fish values.

Several important new partnerships with landowners were developed this year, and the funding received from CP was instrumental in undertaking a series of sites, including in particular two large sites that would otherwise have not been possible to complete. This restoration work also ties directly back to ongoing efforts to address improved water management and drought response approaches, within the context of a larger watershed planning process.