Posted on Nov 18, 2019
Building Riparian Resilience on the Kennebecasis

Lou McNamara introduced our guest speaker, Ben Whalen of the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee, who has played a part in supporting the Kennebecasis Valley Watershed since 2007.

Married and a father of two, Ben resides in Sussex Corner. His passion as an angler and his interest in supporting the region's watershed provide him with a unique opportunity he chooses to leverage for both his personal and professional interests.

Ben delivered his message on "Building Riparian Resilience on the Kennebecasis," a timely topic given the political focus on the environment in recent weeks...

Ben Whalen commenced his presentation defining the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC) and explaining its role. A non-profit established in 1994, the KWRC has three areas of focus:  restoration, science and monitoring, and education and outreach. Their existence began with the undertaking of a 285 km assessment of the Kennebecasis River, noting elevated river temperatures as a factor to commence restoration efforts. Well received provincially, KWRC receives funding Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to help build capacity planting more watershed groups. Ben emphasized that the KWRC is not all about fish either and that stakeholder engagement is vital. They have support from the corporate industry, all three levels of government and services and landowners alike.
He continued with some of the highlights of the KWRC accomplishments: 
  • Built more than 400 in-stream habitat structures
  • Planted more than 335,000 trees
  • Fenced more than 54km along waterways
  • Stabilized more than 3800m of eroding bank
  • Enhanced more 85 fording sites
  • Supported more than 35 restoration sites, including Upper and Lower Kennebecasis, Millstream, Smith's Creek and Trout Creek. 
Ben shared that the use of 'rock armoury' is not the only method of stabilizing erosion areas. He explained the critical need to find a compromise with farmers and landowners by Building Riparian Resilience on the Kennebecasiscreating 'fording sites' or specialized areas in a stream or river where a tractor, equipment or livestock might cross through the water directly. These crossing areas are specifically designed to reduce or eliminate erosion, while at the same time permitting day-to-day farming/landowner activity without undue hardship or cost. As erosion occurs, Ben explained the waterway widens, which creates shallow pools more susceptible to heat- and increases in water temperatures can have a detrimental impact on resident species of fish. 

Ben provided examples of work the KWRC has accomplished at Hampton Bible Camp, at McLeod Brook and the Millstream River. Additionally, he shared projects completed at McDermott Farm.
He thanked Rotary's Interact Club for their support in the spring and was thanked by Lou McNamara.