Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit
In partnership with the Lanark County Stewardship Council, Watersheds Canada is proud to announce the creation and distribution of a free Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit. Generously funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit will provide grassroots organizations and community groups with project guides, updated protocols, and accompanying videos to identify suitable sites and successfully enhance various types of fish habitat projects, including: walleye spawning bed enhancements; in-water fish habitat enhancement with woody debris; and cold-water creek enhancement projects.
“Enhancing and Restoring Critical Fish Habitat in Ontario” webinar recording, featuring Melissa Dakers, Lake Stewardship Coordinator at Watersheds Canada
Before starting your own fish habitat enhancement project, you should consult our Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit Guide which introduces different types of enhancement projects and provides additional resources in order to complete them. Once you have identified your objectives and type of project you are interested in, you can then refer to the below protocols and videos. These go into further detail and lay out the steps needed to complete a successful fish habitat enhancement project.
#1. In-Water Brush Piles (woody debris) Enhancement
Underwater woody debris is a healthy component of lake environments. Sunken logs, trees, branches, and root balls provide excellent habitat for wildlife, including fish, turtles, birds, and invertebrates. Beaver activity, wind, erosion, or water inflows from rivers or creeks naturally deposit such woody debris into a lake. However, human activity and development have significantly reduced the amount of natural woody debris from lakes. Communities can promote the health of wildlife populations and improve water quality by creating additional woody debris habitat, such as in-water brush piles. Brush piles can provide fish with a food source, as well as shaded areas to rest, spawn, and escape predators.
#2. Walleye Spawning Bed Enhancement
Walleye, also known as pickerel, are a highly prized sport fish and an important part of the biodiversity in many waters of Ontario. If you have walleye in your lake or river, you may be able to help strengthen their populations by enhancing walleye spawning beds. This video outlines planning and implementation guidelines for walleye spawning bed enhancement projects.
#3. Cold-Water Creek Enhancement
Cold-water streams are significant in the proper functioning of natural ecosystems as they help to moderate temperatures of the larger rivers and lakes they flow into. Additionally, cold-water streams also provide nursery habitat for many fish species (including brook trout) which require the cold temperatures and high levels of dissolved oxygen characteristic of these types of watercourses. Cold-water fish species such as brook trout are a highly prized sport fish and an important part of the biodiversity in many Ontario waterways. If these trout inhabit your river or creek, you may be able to help strengthen their populations by enhancing cold-water creek habitat.
Project Partners and Financial Supporters
This Fish Habitat Enhancement Toolkit would not have been possible without the support of:
- Anne Bendig, Lanark County Stewardship Council;
- Arnold Gibson Tree Farm;
- Arnott Bros. Construction Ltd.;
- Cabela’s Canada Outdoor Fund;
- Dalhousie Lake Association;
- Ferguson Forest Tree Centre;
- Government of Canada;
- Hans von Rosen, Pinegrove Biotechnical;
- Home Hardware;
- Hydro One;
- Jennifer Lamoureux, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority;
- Jeff Cote, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – Kemptville District;
- Kelly Stiles, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority;
- Lanark and District Fish & Game Conservation Club;
- Lanark County Stewardship Council;
- Lanark Highlands Township;
- LUSH Canada Charity Pot;
- Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters – Zone F;
- Ontario Trillium Foundation;
- Pinegrove Productions;
- Watersheds Canada.