Field Work

Want to know what we do each summer?

Below are summaries of the environmental initiatives carried out by Winter River-Tracadie Bay staff each year.


2020 Final Report (2023-01)


2019 Final Report (2023-01)


2018 Final Report (2023-01)


2017 Final Report -2018-06-20


2016 Field Report from Hilary

Work Crew 2016 (L-R): Amber, Emily, Sarah, Steven, Vicki (Missing: Tate, Hilary, Tessa, Fawn and Jill)

The WRTBWA work crew accomplished a great amount of in-stream restoration work this year! This great group of people enabled us to clear debris from almost 10 km of streams. We built nine brush mats and excavated one of our in-stream silt traps to catch silt from streams. The summer crew installed three silt fences and planted over 900 native trees and shrubs to reduce the amount of silt that reaches the stream. We installed 15 cover logs to reduce fish predation and collaborated on fixing several problem culverts to increase fish passage. Our research technician continued with several monitoring projects including fish population surveys, stream assessments, water quantity and tested several streams for water quality around Tracadie Bay with our new YSI monitoring equipment! The following pictures are some highlights from the summer and fall work in Winter River and around Tracadie Bay:

Pater Branch, Winter River – Riparian plantings in the headwaters adjacent to an active agricultural field. A silt fence was also installed in this area to reduce sediment runoff into the stream.
Winter River Trail – thinning old balsam fir and planting native shrubs/trees in their place along the trail
Black River – large in-stream debris/tree clog removed
Black River – large tree blockage removed
MacAulay’s Creek – a large tidal estuarine brush mat to re-stabilize the banks and contain the large amount of built up organic matter and sediment that has been recently exposed from the removal of a large, inactive beaver dam in the estuary.
Vanco Branch, Winter River – A private road crossing washout in the spring adjacent to the stream. A sediment fence was installed in the early summer and is successfully catching sediment during significant rainfall events.
Pater Branch, Winter River – A large amount of spring silt runoff was found adjacent to an active agricultural field. A 200 m silt fence was installed below the field to mitigate this issue. In addition, native plantings were added to the riparian zone in this area
Jill Poirier measuring velocity and depth for our Water-Level Loggers that are deployed in the streams of Winter River to measure flow discharge aka water quantity throughout the year within our watershed.
Hilary Shea, testing water quality throughout the watershed using our NEW YSI Equipment measuring parameters such as temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH and nitrates.


A report from the summer season is available here: Field Report 2015 from Luke.

When our field supervisor was offered a great permanent job, Sarah took over supervising crew and created a separate report on the fall work activities: Field report – fall 2015 public report

Before and After - Friston 2
Before & after clearing blockages from the stream.
Before and After - Friston 3
Before & after clearing a lot of small debris from a stream we couldn’t even see before.
Before and After - Friston brush mats
Before & after brush mat construction.
Before and After - Friston pipe
Before & after removing a very large pipe that was left over from a fish raising operation many years ago. This was a project where a hand saw actually worked better than the chainsaw.
Trays of trees that are ready to be planted.
Hilary measuring water flow as part of our monitoring program.
Hilary and Jill starting stream surveys on a beautiful fall day.


Our main activities in the summer of 2014 included surveying, tree planting and adding cover for fish, in particular brook trout. Fish cover included slab cover logs, cover rafts, tree tops, repositioning of debris blockages, boulder flipping and rock piles. We also added fish spawning area enhancements and brush mats. Some other activities included elementary school field trips, garbage clean-ups, and a door-to-door campaign of visiting watershed residents.

Details about all of these activities can be found in the 2014 Field Work Report.

Below are some photographs of the 2014 work.

In 2014, we completed work on our two-year-long nutrient management pilot project, which involved working with several local farmers. We collected soil and water samples for analysis, which will help the farmers make informed decisions about the amounts of fertilizer and manure they need to apply to their fields. We also continued our work on a separate water monitoring program, which was started in 2013 and will be continued and expanded in the future.


1. Tree planting
a) Planted about 4,000 trees and 250 shrubs.
b) On the Brackley Branch it was found that there was extremely good growth in most species, but especially Ash. The Ash trees planted two and three years ago are now between 3 and 4 m tall. They are magnificent, but the stems must be weak or there is too much leaf growth, perhaps because of the fertile soil resulting in the trees bending over, sometimes to the point where the stems are horizontal. We have developed a test to address actions to correct the situation. 10 trees were included in each of 4 testing scenarios:
      i.    The trees were GPS-marked and left alone to see what develops.
      ii.   The trees were staked so that they remain upright.
      iii.   Some of the side branches near the top were removed to reduce the weight load of the foliage.
      iv.   The main stem where the tree has become horizontal was removed and the tree pruned so that one of the vertical lateral branches would become dominant.
c) The survival and growth of these experimental trees will be monitored.


2. Tree pruning and thinning of competition.
Trees have been planted, primarily on city property for the last three years. In many cases, alders have encroached or regrown after being cut and are now competing for the space occupied by the new trees. The alders had to be cut back and in some cases the trees pruned to obtain proper growth.


3. Stream enhancement
a) Debris and blockage removal – As the stream is cleaned and better water flow takes place, obstructions are scoured out and must be removed
b) Brush mats are established to trap silt which has been released as a result of the more channelized water flow. At the same time the consolidated silt narrows and deepens the stream, which is the desired effect. 88 brush mats were established.


4. Water flow
Springs on the entire watershed were located. Where it was feasible v‑notch weirs were established to monitor spring flow. Where possible the apparatus was also installed in the streams to monitor combined flow from springs.

5. Nutrient (Nitrate) management
a) Contacts were made with the largest potato farmers in the watershed, as well as dairy farmers, to establish base levels of nutrients being applied to the land. Use of nutrients, both chemical fertilizers and manure is being assessed and quantified.
b) An inventory of all crops in the watershed was initiated.
c) Chemical analysis for nitrates was carried out on water samples from throughout the watershed, including springs, streams, the river, and household residences.


6. Education/Field Trips/Presentations
a) In conjunction with Sierra Club, presentations about water conservation were made to classes in three elementary schools over the winter and spring. In June, six classes visited the Union Road Pumping Station area. The field trips included a tour and explanation of pumping station and water extraction, at tour of the immediate area to show environmental enhancement initiatives that were being carried out by the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, followed by a walk along a stream to an old shale pit where the students had a chance to learn about wildlife and wildlife habitat and had an opportunity to plant trees as part of a habitat restoration initiative.
b) A presentation was given at the Canadian Heritage Rivers Conference in Charlottetown about the Winter River and associated management.


7. Watershed Management Plan
A draft Watershed Management plan was completed with many meetings over 2012 and 2013, both by the board and with the public and the final version approved at the Annual meeting in April. It should be noted that as work proceeds and as situations change, there may be modifications or updates made to the document.

8. Newsletter
A newsletter was produced to keep residents aware of the initiatives of the WRTBWA both in term of habitat enhancement as well as the development of the watershed management plan. The newsletter also contained an article about the effect of deep wells on stream flow.

9. Meetings
There have been many meetings, including monthly meetings of the Board of Directors, meetings of various committees such as the fieldwork committee, and the water conservation committee, and meetings with the Province and the City about water extraction.

Go to the Photos section to see examples of fieldwork activities.

It is of key importance to note that without funding support, none of the above activities would have taken place. Significant financial support was received from:
  • Environment Canada – EcoAction program (for nutrient related work)
  • City of Charlottetown (for all phases of the project)
  • Watershed Management program (for all phases)
  • Wildlife Conservation fund (for habitat enhancement related activities). 

Core funding for staff was also received from:

  • Federal Government – Canada Summer Jobs 
  • Provincial government – Jobs for Youth, Skills PEI, Employment Development Agency and the Rural Development Program.


  • Planted over 2800 trees (Green Ash, Red Maple, Yellow Birch, Eastern Cedar, Eastern Larch, White Pine and Red Oak).
  • In spring did a survey of all trees planted in the previous two years to determine survival rates.
  • Survey of aquatic invertebrates. The river was surveyed to help establish baseline data. One survey focussed on the population of invertebrates, numbers and species.
  • Survey of spawning sites and presence of fish. The goal was to identify sites for future protection.
  • Tree planting
  • Changing the tree composition in the riparian zones to the longer lived species of the Acadian forest was identified as a critical focus of enhancement efforts on the Winter River Watershed.
  • Removal of blockages in river from winter debris and beaver activity
  • Cleaning 14 springs to maximize water flow
  • Hardy’s Pond, draw down, dredging and subsequent refill
  • Monitoring water temperatures
  • Built nest boxes for tree swallows, kestrels and barred owls (these are marked with WRTB or WRTBWA).

For more detailed information, read this document: 2012 fieldwork details.


  • Planted 4,300 trees (Green Ash, White Ash, Eastern Cedar, Eastern Hemlock, Red Maple, Yellow Birch, White Pine and Red Oak)
  • Built 27 brush mats to trap silt
  • Built and monitored a fish trap in the fish-way at Officer’s Pond to determine fish movements which is an indication of the fish population
  • Monitored water quality (temperature, oxygen levels)
  • A fish habitat assessment protocol was developed and tested in the river.
  • Fish nest (Redd) surveys were carried out to determine where spawning took place.


The summer of 2010 was an excellent one in terms of making improvements to the riparian zone and in-stream habitat of the Winter River.
In his role as watershed coordinator, Bruce Smith provided overall direction to the summer work activities. Chris Mutch began as project supervisor in early June while students Danielle Lacey, Luke Peters, and Nicole Murtagh began as field workers in late June.
General activities included:
  • Planting 800 trees (mostly white ash, eastern cedar, larch, red oak and sugar maple) in the upper section of the south tributary to the Winter River.
  • Planting 200 trees (mostly white ash) in the Hardy’s Pond area.
  • Removing major blockages from the stretch of the Winter River between Officer’s Pond and the head of the tide.
  • Constructing silt traps (measuring 30 meters long by two and a half meters wide by two meters deep) on the two major branches of the Winter River
Details on these and other activities are available in the 2010 Summer Work Report.


Highlights from this field season included:

  • Cleared a total of ~5.3 km of stream blockages
  • Created 25 brush mats
  • Delivered 3 community watershed information sessions
  • Conducted a river survey (see link below)

Take a look at the details of this work and more information regarding work completed in the summer of 2019:

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