St. Mary’s River about to get ‘bombed’

·2 min read

The program is part of a collaboration among federal and provincial government departments and private organizations to combat the damaging effects of acid rain on aquatic species in Eastern Nova Scotia. Begun in 2016 along the West River near Sheet Harbour, this will be the first large-scale treatment of its kind for the St. Mary’s watershed.

“We are days away from our first application,” said Scott Beaver, president of the St. Mary’s River Association, adding that the initiative is part of three-year, $1.2 million program supported by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Coastal Restoration Fund. “A very large portion of our grant is going to be spent on this project.”

The actual work is being carried out under the auspices of the provincial Departments of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Lands and Forestry in partnership with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc., and Dalhousie University.

According to a provincial government statement, “The province is using agricultural lime to reduce the effects of acid rain and support restoration of trout and wild Atlantic salmon habitat in the West River near Sheet Harbour and the St. Mary’s River watershed… Lime works into the soil and eventually seeps into rivers. Eighty hectares will be treated this month.”

Edmund Halfyard, a biologist at Perennia who has extensively researched salmon population trends in both the West and St. Mary’s Rivers, said: “Data suggests that this helicopter liming project effectively repairs the damaging effects of acid rain on forests, soils, streams and fish. It also demonstrates that multiple partners working together can contribute to a healthier Nova Scotia environment and renewable economy.”

SMRA Vice-President Kenny Silver said the new project is slated for Barren Brook, off the West Branch of the St. Mary’s, west of Lower Caledonia. “We’re using a using a helicopter with a bucket filler – the same sort of thing that would be used to fight forest fires. The idea is to showcase different ways liming can be done. In this case, dispersing lime on the land will hopefully improve the soil.”

Since 2016, more than 263 hectares (650 acres) of land in the province has been treated with more than 2,600 tonnes of agricultural lime.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal