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Quebec Bulletin
October-November 2015/Volume 18/Number 5

Species at Risk: Success for the Comité ZIP du lac Saint-Pierre

Two years after completing work to reduce siltation affecting aquatic grass beds around Île de Grâce in the Archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre, the ZIP Committee points out that its investment has paid off. 

Habitat smothered by sediment

Planting willows at the top of the slope.
Comité ZIP du Lac Saint-Pierre
Planting willows at the top of the slope.

Île de Grâce is home to an impressive mosaic of habitats, and its vast marshy bay is recognized as one of the best spawning and rearing grounds for several fish species in the Archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre. However, the island’s shoreline is being eroded because it is exposed to currents, winds and wave action from passing ships. Observers have noted that the shoreline is receding from 1 to 4 metres per year in several areas around the island. This erosion produces sediments that contribute to poor water quality and siltation of bays and grass beds. These combined effects degrade the habitats of several fish species. In view of the wealth of the island’s habitats, it is important that the island be conserved and restored.

A bioengineering solution

The willows planted in 2013 have quickly grown along the shoreline.
The willows planted in 2013 have quickly grown along the shoreline.

In 2013, with funding from the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, the Comité ZIP du lac Saint-Pierre, in collaboration with Île de Grâce landowners, undertook the restoration of 525 metres of shoreline. Bioengineering techniques involved working on the shoreline to reduce the slope and reinforcing it by laying coconut fibre geotextile as well as planting vegetation.

During the summer of 2013, the ZIP Committee’s team planted more than 23,500 plants and sowed 100 kg of a mixture of native herbaceous seeds specifically designed to revegetate the banks and control erosion. Two years later, the plants have grown rapidly and the shoreline has remained stable. The bioengineering techniques have therefore succeeded in slowing siltation of the Île de Grâce grass beds, thus improving the habitat of several endangered fish.

This project was funded by the Habitat Stewardship Program, because the grass beds around Île de Grâce provide habitat for several species at risk, including the copper redhorse, bridle shiner and striped bass, all three protected under the Species at Risk Act. These and all other species that inhabit the grass beds around the island will enjoy better water quality and reduced habitat siltation.

Did you know?

The Comité ZIP du lac Saint-Pierre (Lake Saint-Pierre area of prime concern committee) is a consultative body whose main objective is the development and protection of Lake Saint-Pierre and its shoreline habitat. The Committee is a member of Stratégies Saint-Laurent, a provincial corporation that brings together 13 ZIP committees.

The objective of the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) for Species at Risk is to contribute to the recovery of species at risk and prevent other species from becoming at risk by engaging Canadians in the conservation of wildlife. The HSP provides funding to “stewards” for implementing activities that protect or conserve habitats for species at risk and for species that are not at risk to prevent their potential decline.

Andréanne Demers
Ecosystems Management

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