GORRIE – Conservation Areas Coordinator Stewart Lockie provided a live update on the progress of decommissioning the dam at the Gorrie Conservation Area on Sept. 15, with several members of the board attending.
Lockie described the work undertaken by Master Utilities Division Inc. The project was based on detailed decommissioning and site remediation plans developed by GSS Engineering Consultants Limited.
Ensuring the fish habitat in the Maitland River was protected as part of the process, Lockie described in detail how they gently moved the fish from the area’s construction to a safer location.
Undercut banks, eddies, sunken trees, rocks, and overhanging trees and bushes protect from the current and above-water predators (such as birds).
He said they used nets to scoop the fish from their homes near the island (which was removed) and other places. They didn’t track what types of fish they moved; he said it was a speedy process to keep the fish safe. However, he told the group that he noticed smallmouth bass, small catfish, and other small minnow-type fish.
Much of the leftover material was reused, refurbished, or buried in the ground, except for the wood left from the removed trees, which included a willow tree.
Willow trees contain a high-water content, is difficult to burn if not seasoned long enough and even if you can get it to burn, it does not throw off much heat and creates more creosote, which is dangerous in wood burning stoves.
The willow tree remains were challenging to get rid of, he said. After discovering that there was that type of wood in a pile, one company backed out.
Eventually, a company did remove the large pile of debris, and they took it somewhere on the east coast, Lockie said.
Site remediation work will continue through the fall. In addition, turfgrass and wildflower meadows will be seeded in designated areas. Maitland Conservation will also plant various trees and shrubs species to create tree cover and shade areas around the picnic shelter.
Work to repair the picnic shelter will get underway shortly and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.
Due to safety concerns, some areas of the Conservation Area will remain closed until the remediation work has been completed.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times