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Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project

Summer 2020 Newsletter

Check out events you don't want to miss and see what the Clean Coasts team has accomplished this summer!

  RAE Summit

  Bioblitz at Brule Shore

  Greenhouse Grasses

  Marsh Monitoring 

  Congrats MCG!

  Restore Brule Shore

  Intern Spotlight 

  Get involved!
OUR PROJECT
Clean Coasts has been busy monitoring salt marsh health, planning for upcoming restoration initiatives, and engaging communities. The team has been promoting salt marsh stewardship virtually, and in person!

The final years of the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project are approaching. We are focused on restoring two salt marsh sites while building coastal resiliency and capacity among North Shore communities to continue this work. 


#ilovesaltmarshes #iheartestuaries #cleanrecovery
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 RAE Summit and Allen Beck

Our partners at Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) are hosting their 2020 National Coastal and Estuarine Summit from September 29th-October 1st. The summit focuses on lessons learned and best practices in coastal and estuarine restoration and management. Focus areas for the summit reflect current challenges and opportunities facing the estuarine community, including: 

  • Coastal ecological restoration
  • Coastal management
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Disaster planning, response, recovery, and resilience
  • Nature-based shoreline management approaches including living shorelines
  • Coastal water resources
  • Education
  • Economy, finance, and investment
  • Science and technology
  • Planning, policy, and administration
  • Large-scale management and restoration

Though this year's summit will not be hosted in-person as it has been since 2003, it is sure to be a highly interactive and state of the art experience. If you are interested in this virtual opportunity to network with experts in coastal restoration and management, register today by clicking the button below!

Due to the virtual nature of this summit, the registration cost has been reduced. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from more than 300 expert panels, presentations, and posters at a reduced cost from the comfort of your home or office! Other notable features include:

  • Virtual round tables: these small group sessions will allow participants to raise topics of interest in smaller interactive group settings. They will also provide an informal networking opportunity with experts and colleagues.
  • On-Demand sessions:  As sessions will be recorded, you can take in the entire Summit experience on your own time, even after the Summit is over, through on-demand posters and presentations!
  • Interactive exhibit space: Virtual exhibit space offers sponsors a new and exciting way to connect with attendees by putting digital content in front of every single attendee. 

We are pleased to announce that Clean Coasts' Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, will be presenting at this summit. Don't miss his presentation! Allen will be sharing our three salt marsh restoration sites as case studies of best practices for coastal restoration.

Click here to register for RAE's Virtual Summit!

 Bioblitz at Brule Shore

Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, discusses the significance of salt marshes with a family of bioblitz enthusiasts! 
In partnership with the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG), the Clean Coasts team hosted the Bioblitz at Brule Shore in Taqamiju’jk (Tatamagouche) on July 28th, 2020. Brule Shore is one of three restoration sites for Clean Coasts. Participants of all ages attended to learn about the significance of salt marshes while exploring their diversity!

A bioblitz is an event where participants are asked to record the various biota (living things) in a defined area. This is a form of citizen science where photographs and audio-recordings are considered “observations” of species. Anything from scat to animal footprints can be photographed. These observations are uploaded onto the iNaturalist app where they are identified by scientists, naturalists, and other experts. Once the observation has been identified by two or more users it becomes "research grade", which is then added to an international biodiversity dataset!

The Bioblitz at Brule Shore allowed the team to engage with community members and discuss the importance of salt marsh ecosystems, as well as the challenges they face. Participants were also taught how to identify and catalog plants and animals in the area using the iNaturalist app, allowing them to upload their images and audio recordings to Clean's Brule Shore Bioblitz project. This helped to create a record of species composition/distribution before any restoration work is conducted. We are grateful to have shared this experience with all who attended, both in person and online! 
There were 42 participants and 229 observations at the event! The most observed species was Carolina Sea Lavender (Limonium carolinianum), likely because of its beautiful purple colours that stuck out in the marsh.  

Many of the bioblitz participants were from the surrounding rural communities and had an existing interest in being outdoors. Participants were keen to learn more about salt marshes and what our project does to restore them. Project partners from the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM), CB Wetlands and Environmental Specialists (CBWES), Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SuNNS), Friends of the Pugwash Estuary (FOPE), the Atlantic Water Network (AWN), and Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) were also in attendance.
Clean Coasts was fortunate to have Hannah Martin of CMM present at the event, offering an opening and a closing prayer as well as intention-setting. Hannah is a Mi’kmaw woman from the traditional unceded territory of Taqamiju’jk, and a member of the Millbrook First Nation community. She was able to share her close ties to the plants, animals, and land of the Brule Shore salt marsh with event participants. Wela’lin, Hannah! Thank you for teaching us more about our role as treaty people!
Bioblitz participants and Clean staff gathered around Hannah Martin of CMM for an opening prayer.
The Brule Shore Bioblitz successfully delivered knowledge and tools related to ecosystem and how it contributes to the well-being of the coastline. The knowledge shared through the perspectives of Hannah Martin, Allen Beck (Restoration Specialist), staff, and participants all contributed to a “Two-Eyed Seeing” approach - presenting the biological and cultural significance of salt marshes.

We hope our Bioblitz provided participants with a holistic understanding of salt marsh importance, while also instilling passion to protect, monitor, and restore our coasts!
Brule Shore salt marsh. Note the impounded water held on the marsh surface: this drowns the marsh and causes vegetation to die. We're eager to restore this valuable habitat! 

We would like to thank individuals, communities, and organizations who participated in making the bioblitz so successful. This includes: Hannah Martin of CMM, the landowner of our restoration site, the partnering organizations mentioned above, the community members of Tatamagouche, the Country Bread Basket, and volunteers. We are so grateful for your presence and feedback at this event!

Click here for the Brule Shore Bioblitz iNaturalist page
We asked for Bioblitz feedback, and you delivered! 

The following quotes were taken from interviews conducted between Engagement Specialist, Julia Stoughton, and Bioblitz at Brule Shore participants. Interviewees gave both their verbal and written consent for these interviews to be circulated.
  Paul Jenkinson, Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia (SuNNS)
"...we’re committed to a sustainable North shore and we have attended several Clean Foundation meetings and presentations, and strongly support the proactive, intentional approach to mitigating climate effects… the climate crisis. It was natural for us to come out and actively support."


  Aislin Livingstone, Atlantic Water Network (AWN)
"I wanted to learn more about salt marshes. We’ve definitely been to them biking and hiking but don’t know much about it so I thought this would be a great way to learn a lot in a short period of time from experts."


  Emma Kinley, Nova Scotia Environment (NSE)
"I love these kind of community engagement events, bringing people in and educating them in the field. I think it’s way more impactful than just having a sit-down event. Hands-on is how I learn, and when you’re interacting with the environment, you get way more out of it!"

  Betty Hodgson, Friends of the Pugwash Estuary (FOPE)
"I think it’s very worthwhile work that you’re doing and I think that we need to increase our knowledge and increase the interface between people and the environment, so this is a good way of doing it...nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, whether our puny efforts of trying to restore are going to be effective or not, but doing something, just raising awareness is valuable in and of itself."

 Greenhouse Grasses

Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, and summer intern, Katie Duncan, observe the project's Spartina alterniflora plants at Millbrook First Nation's greenhouse.
Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, and Monitoring Assistant, Katie Duncan traveled to Millbrook First Nation's greenhouse this July to check on the project's harvested saltmarsh cordgrass (spartina alterniflora). These cordgrass plants were harvested from our restoration site at Marshall's Crossing this spring. The grasses are growing in the greenhouse until the community planting day at Sitmu'k, our restoration site in Pictou Landing First Nation.

Due to COVID-19, our grass planting day has been postponed until next season. In the meantime, we will continue to care for and monitor our harvested grasses in preparation for their role in our living shoreline restoration plan for the Sitmu'k salt marsh. 
Spartina alterniflora plants marked to indicate number of living (L) and new (N) shoots. 
The team counted and marked saltmarsh cordgrass plants. This was done to indicate number of living plants and new shoots, quantifying the progress or cordgrass growth. To encourage healthy roots and denser plants, Katie and Allen clipped the ends of healthy grasses. This strategy discourages the cordgrass from growing larger or flowering, instead promoting the reproduction of new shoots. 

Healthy cordgrass grown in the greenhouse will be planted in the areas of degraded salt marsh at Sitmu'k as part of a community planting day next spring. These grasses will be planted behind the reef balls we intend to install on the shoreline of Sitmu'k this fall.

As the reefballs slow oncoming waters, sediment will settle out behind the structures. This additional material will provide ideal elevation and soil for planting our harvested cordgrass. Our planting will re-vegetate rock covered areas and extend the existing marsh in front of Pictou Landing First Nation School into the cove. A living shoreline can act as a buffer for the school, protecting it from storm surge, sea level rise, and erosion. Living shorelines provide crucial habitat for fish and wildlife, while providing space for traditional medicines to be reestablished in their natural tidal zone. 

Thank you to Peter Steiner, Climate Action Pollinator Project Coordinator at CMM, for allowing us to use the greenhouse looking after our grasses. We could not have gotten this far without you!
This image shows how saltmarsh cordgrass can slow the velocity of ocean waves and current. Observe the difference between the still water in the marsh and the open water just feet away!
Katie clipping the ends of potted Spartina alterniflora to promote the reproduction of new shoots. 

 Marsh Monitoring

We would like to thank our project partners at CBWES for installing Rod Sediment Elevation Table (RSET) units and Marker Horizons at our Brule restoration site! These tools are used in our monitoring process, giving us insight into a restoration project's success. 
Rod Sediment Elevation Table (RSET) measurement.

Did you know marshes grow in two ways?

  1. Sediment build up (surface deposition)
  2. Organic matter build up (typically roots)

The RSET measures the growth of the marsh and the movement of the bedrock below in a verified scientific manner. The marker horizons installed on site allow for sediment buildup to be measured. Combining these techniques allows for the nature of marsh growth or loss to be understood!

Our Clean Coasts Team continues to monitor all three salt marsh restoration sites. In August, the team conducted field work that included:

  1. Vegetation surveys, to help us understand the habitat make-up and health of the system.
  2. Topographic measurements, like the RSET, to help us understand the elevation of the site and where changes are occurring.
  3. Water level logger wells, to record the water levels beneath the marsh, helping us understand the movement of water on site.

All this data helps tell the story of restoration progress. More information can be found in the monitoring report.

Installing a well for the water level logger at Brule Shore. From left to right: Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck; GIS Specialist, Logan Horrocks; Katie Duncan, Monitoring Assistant.

Also pictured: Real Time Kinematic Differential Global Positioning System unit (RTK-DGPS), quadrats used for vegetation surveys, the PVC well, and the level logger unit.
 Congratulations to MCG!
Clean Coasts and CMM at Sitmu'k. From left to right: Engagement Specialist, Julia Stoughton; Project Lead, Charlynne Robertson; CMM staff, Seonaid MacDonell and Andrew Van Wychen. 
We would like to congratulate our partners at the Mi'kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) and CMM for successfully deploying reef balls in Sitmu'k of Pictou Landing First Nation, and for allowing us to tag along!

The Coastal Restoration Project team at MCG have now deployed over 160 reef balls along the Northumberland Strait; these structures can restore damaged habitats and enhance existing ones. 


We were so happy to attend this event in preparation for our own reef ball deployment at Sitmu'k. We are hoping our installation will take place this October! This deployment is one part of our living shoreline approach to coastal restoration at Stimu'k (see "Greenhouse Grasses" section above for more details). 
Click to view Clean's reef ball simulation video!

 Restore Brule Shore

Clean Coasts is working to restore a salt marsh along Brule Shore in Tatamagouche (Taqamiju’jk). The salt marsh was converted to agricultural land decades ago and has degraded due to an old earthen dyke blocking tidal flow and holding water on the surface. Impounded water on a marsh will result in root rot and cause the vegetation to die.The shallow depth of the standing water on the marsh surface results in poor fish habitat and ideal breeding habitat for mosquito larvae, contributing to the mosquito problem in the area.     

Restoration Plan 

With the help of local stewards, Clean Coasts will restore drainage to the system, allow vegetation to regrow and prevent the existing pool from growing larger. 🌿    

For their time and effort, recruited stewards will receive an honorarium. They have the valuable opportunity to build skills and knowledge in salt marsh ecology and restoration while training under experts in the field. 
 

The restoration plan is to dig shallow, strategically placed channels (also known as runnels) into the ground, which will allow the marsh to drain and re-vegetate. This innovative technique is successfully practiced by salt marsh restoration experts in Nova Scotia and the United States!      

Significant Salt Marshes

Healthy salt marshes are places of cultural significance to local Mi’kmaw communities. These wetlands provide countless ecosystem services, such as: carbon sinks, protecting water quality, supporting healthy fish populations, preventing coastal erosion, absorbing wave velocity, and mitigating flooding from increased storm surge and sea-level rise. 

This project aims to foster awareness and appreciation for these valuable ecosystems through public involvement in restoration projects like Brule Shore. We hope to empower local communities and increase their coastal resiliency in the face of climate change.

INTERN SPOTLIGHT

The environmental workforce of tomorrow relies on today’s youth. Clean supports this future workforce by creating internships for these students, providing irreplaceable skill-building and positive work experiences. We are grateful to our partners for kindly funding these internships. 
 
Two of our summer 2020 interns shared their journey and experiences 
with Clean Coasts below. Thank you to Georgia and Katie, and all of our past interns for contributing to Clean, and allowing us to support your experience in the environmental sector!

Hello, I am Georgia! I am a Master of Resource and Environmental Management (MREM) student at Dalhousie University. During the pandemic, I searched high and low for an internship. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Clean Coasts team as a Coastal Outreach Assistant both in person and virtually. I had the opportunity to apply my skills not only to assist others but also to complete my own individual tasks, such as the Brule Shore Bioblitz, which I had the pleasure of leading! That experience to me was noteworthy, as I never expected to have such a responsibility during my internship. Now that the internship is coming to an end, I recognize how leading the bioblitz, developing new skills and knowledge through assisting the team with various tasks, has benefited me. In the future when I am done with my MREM program I hope to continue doing similar work. This fall, I will surely be writing my final project report on my leadership experiences with running Clean’s first in-person event since the pandemic restrictions were lifted! Thank you to the Clean Foundation for the wonderful experience! 

My internship this summer has been one that I will always remember, and I will draw from the experiences I have had in my future careers. I have learned new field sampling techniques, how to use new pieces of equipment, and all about salt marsh ecology. Before working with Clean and Clean Coasts, I thought marshes were muddy, smelly, and ecologically boring places. After working for the summer with this team, I have come to realise the diversity of these ecosystems and their importance to both human and natural spaces. Starting this internship in the middle of the COVID pandemic made me a little apprehensive since I had never worked from home before, but the Clean office and my team helped make it a seamless transition for me. We were still able to conduct our fieldwork, albeit socially distanced, and monitor three marshes this summer. I can’t wait to volunteer for the Clean Coasts team in the future!

 Get Involved with Clean Coasts!

If you are interested in gaining skills in coastal restoration and volunteering with our team, please visit the “Get Involved” section of our website! With your help, we can promote coastal resiliency along the Northumberland Strait and protect communities from a changing climate.
Click here to register as a Clean Coasts Volunteer!
Thank you! Wela’lioq!
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