Habitat Restoration – Jock River

Jock River Fish Habitat Embayment Creation Project

The Jock River is the largest tributary of the Rideau system and is habitat for Muskies. The challenge for rivers and streams in urban areas is that they become built-up, straightened out and the shorelines are degraded through development pressure. Our partner, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority owns land on the Jock in the Village of Richmond which is used as a conservation area and access to the river. There is a natural ditch on the site which floods in the spring and then dries up when the water levels go back to normal. This is a problem for spawning Muskies in the river.

RVCA together with a group of partners has created a new fish embayment on their site which will greatly enhance spawning and nursery habitat for our favourite fish. The Ottawa chapter, investing and working through our new Muskies Canada Foundation, has put $5000 into this important project. Two other fishing organizations also contributed and we were successful in leveraging that and received a major federal grant under the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program.

Digging out the Embayment
Digging out the Embayment

This project has created 1000 square meters of new spawning habitat and 100 meters of new re-naturalized shoreline. 102 truckloads of fill were removed to dig out the embayment to the appropriate depth to support year-round use. Trees and stumps were added to create more complex underwater structure, shelter for small fish and fry. The wood is also important for Muskies to spawn effectively. The embayment has been designed and built to help support a diversity of insects and fish which are part of what’s necessary for truly good habitat for young Muskies.

Rolling out the matting to stabilize the new shoreline
Rolling out the matting to stabilize the new shoreline
Planting native plants and shrubs on the future shore
Planting native plants and shrubs on the future shore
Putting in structure (trees and stumps) to enhance the habitat for small fry
Putting in structure (trees and stumps) to enhance the habitat for small fry

Part of our contribution was in volunteer support. It was very rewarding to go to the site when the work was underway and assist with preparing and replanting the new shoreline(see photos). It was a great feeling after our work to watch the dyke being breached to let the river flow into the new embayment. It was like the feeling you get when you release a Muskie, knowing that you’ve done something good that will support future sustainability for those fish we care so much about.

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