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Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project

Winter 2021 Newsletter

From hosting our fourth project partner meeting, to connecting with various stakeholders, to sharing knowledge and skills with our amazing partners and allies, Clean Coasts is grateful for a successful winter season. 
Read to find out what the team has been up to since December!


 2021 Project Partner Meeting

 Presenting to Stakeholders 

 PEIWA RTK Training

 Capacity Building with RAE


 Restore Brule Shore Video

  WWF Blue Carbon Workshop


  ACCESS Virtual Conference

  2021 City Nature Challenge
OUR PROJECT
Clean Coasts has been busy monitoring and managing salt marsh health, engaging with project partners, allies and stakeholders, and strategizing for the final year of the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project. We continue to promote coastal stewardship, both virtually and in person!

As we enter our project's final year, we are putting plans in place to complete restoration at Sitmu'k by involving community Elders and youth. We will also work to apply adaptive management and monitoring techniques at our two restored sites, Brule Shore and Marshall's Crossing. Clean Coasts continues to focus on building coastal resiliency and capacity among North Shore communities to carry on this work. 


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Please note that some photos included in this newsletter were taken at a time with no or fewer COVID-19 restrictions. Clean Coasts continues to follow all health guidelines of Clean Foundation and the Government of Nova Scotia.
 2021 Project Partner Meeting
Project partners and allies gather virtually at our 2021 meeting.

On March 11th and 12th, Clean Coasts hosted our fourth Project Partner Meeting. Due to COVID-19, this year's meeting was conducted virtually via Zoom. Although we were disappointed to not be gathering in-person with our local and international partners, Clean Coasts was grateful that this year's meeting could be accessible and available to a wider audience. We would like to say a big wela'lioq/thank you to all attendees and presenters from across North America/Turtle Island!

During the meeting, we were grateful to have Hannah Martin of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq (CMM) with us to offer an opening ceremony and welcome us to the meeting in a good way. Hannah is CMM's Nuji Kelo’toqatijik Earth Keeper Network Project Coordinator, a Millbrook First Nation community member and so much more! Wela'lin, Hannah, for your beautiful words and for providing space for us to reflect on our connections to one another, the land and the non-human species that inhabit it. 

Images from our 2019 Project Partner meeting at PLFN Fisheries Department (left) and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq Offices (right). 

This year, the theme of our project partner meeting was “building community capacity towards coastal resilience in Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki,” with a focus on our three restoration sites in the Northumberland Strait region.

Day one of the project partner meeting was titled "Capacity Building in Action."  We invited our project partners and allies to present on topics that we felt contributed to our local capacity to understand, prepare for and adapt to the coastal impacts of climate change. Our ultimate goal with this meeting was to increase awareness of the amazing organizations, individuals, tools and resources available to empower local resilience in the face of the coastal impacts of climate change. 

As Tony Bowron, President and CEO of CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES), put it simply in his presentation, becoming more coastally resilient really means increasing our ability to "roll with the punches." In this case, the "punches" refer to issues like sea level rise, increased storm surge, flooding and erosion. Luckily, our "toolbox" to increase this resilience is full of things like nature-based approaches to coastal restoration, emerging research on coastal blue carbon, educational resources like Restore America's Estuaries' Living Shorelines Academy, adopting Two-Eyed Seeing (Etuaptmumk) approaches to our work and learning from the incredible stewards and knowledge holders championing this work in their communities.

We hope you left the meeting feeling inspired to take action towards making your community more resilient to the coastal impacts of climate change, whether that be through continued learning, sharing information or taking tangible steps towards the conservation, restoration and management of our coastlines. 


Missed out on the meeting? Please click on the button below to watch a recording of Day One!

Day One Recording
2021 Project Partner Meeting agenda. To see the PDF version of the agenda, please click on the image. 

The second day of our project partner meeting was titled "Stewarding our Sites." Day Two allowed our team to present on restoration, outreach and engagement updates for our three sites: Marshall's Crossing, Brule Shore and Sitmu'k. Participants were given briefing packages and site-specific questions prior to the meeting and asked to provide their insight and expert opinion during the meeting. We were thrilled with the level of engagement in the discussion about our sites, and eager to apply the valuable feedback we received to the final year of our project. 

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all/wela’lioq for investing your time and energy into the meeting, for engaging in a discussion with us about the "coastal resilience toolbox" and for thinking through the future stewardship of our restoration sites. 
 
To our valued project partners and presenters, thank you for sharing your knowledge, experience and unique expertise with us and with attendees. It is always a privilege to hear you speak, and we were thrilled to bring such a diverse community of environmental stewards and leaders together in one (virtual) room. We specifically want to thank (in order of appearance): Lee Millet with Ducks Unlimited Canada, Alexi Baccardax Westcott with COINAtlantic, Tony Bowron with CBWES, Elsa Schwartz, Lance Speidell and Hilary Stevens with Restore America's Estuaries (RAE), Hannah Martin with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq (CMM) and Alanna Syliboy with Mi'kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) and CMM. 

We are looking forward to a future meeting where we can come together in person, but appreciate your willingness to adapt to a virtual meeting with us despite a year of Zoom-fatigue! 

 Presenting to Stakeholders

Project Manager, Charlynne Robertson, delivering a past in-person presentation on behalf of the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project.

Project Updates to the DFO

On March 9th, 2021, the Clean Coasts Team gave a virtual presentation on project updates to 20+ local staff at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In particular, we presented on topics such as salt marsh ecology and restoration site updates, our site-specific engagement and outreach efforts, partnerships, the importance of taking a two-eyed seeing approach to our work, our region wide tidal barrier assessment work and how we conduct data management and sharing. We also spoke about the past and future of Clean Foundation's Atlantic Reef Ball program in the Halifax Harbour. 

As our project is funded by the DFO's Coastal Restoration Fund, it was a great opportunity to touch base with our funder. We were able to raise awareness about what the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project has accomplished over the past four years and what we are still hoping to do in our final year. 

Images of the Clean Coasts team conducting winter monitoring. 
FCM T2050 Webinar Series

Thanks to the continued collaboration with Katie Giles and Mat Davis from Clean's Energy Team, Clean Coasts got to expand our outreach to municipalities this past winter during a FCM T2050 Webinar series. This series, hosted by Clean's Climate Municipal Action project, aims to equip municipalities with the capacity, knowledge and skills to reduce GHG emissions in their communities and to take action on climate change.

As part of this series, Clean Coasts' Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, delivered a webinar covering the topic of sea level rise. Beck also gave a webinar on coastal blue carbon back in November of 2020, which you can read more about in our Fall 2020 Newsletter.  

Sea Level Rise

On January 28th, 2021, Beck presented on the complex topic of sea level rise to 11 municipal staff from the Municipalities of Cumberland County, Kings County, the District of Digby and the District of Yarmouth. As well, he presented to staff from the Towns of Amherst, Mahone Bay and New Glasgow. Participants came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from climate change and renewable energy to planning, finance and marketing. There was also a Municipal Councillor present. These participants represent partner municipalities from Clean Energy Team's T2050 project and the Clean Energy Financing program. 

While presenting, Beck spoke about what sea level rise is and why we are particularly vulnerable to it in Nova Scotia/Mi'kma'ki. He also provided more information on sea level rise projections for various locations within Atlantic Canada, talked through the associated threats such as infrastructure damage and habitat loss and concluded with a discussion on how we can adapt to these impacts on an individual, community, academic, NGO and government level.

As always, Beck's presentation included background information about our project and the significance of preserving and restoring salt marsh habitat as a tool for climate change adaptation and mitigation.  

For a recording of Beck's presentations to local municipalities, click on the link below and navigate to the videos labelled, "Coastal Carbon Sequestration/Blue Carbon," and, "Sea Level Rise- and what we can do about it." 
Click Here for T2050 Webinar Recordings
Offering this information to municipal leaders is key to ensuring that local communities are informed of the inevitable impacts of climate change on our coastlines. Beyond increasing awareness, we hope that presentations like this one will inspire towns and counties to prepare for and adapt to sea level rise and mitigate the associated threats where possible. 

In relation to our project, we want to advocate for salt marshes and increase awareness of their invaluable ecosystem services like buffering the impacts of storm surge, absorbing flooding, improving water quality and even their ability to keep pace with sea level rise under the right conditions. According to the PEW Charitable Trusts, "
One acre of salt marsh can absorb up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater, which is equivalent to more than 2.25 Olympic-size swimming pools." We cannot afford to lose more of these amazing systems!

We need to protect salt marshes from further degradation and destruction in order for them to protect us, and support the natural process of marsh migration where possible. This might mean removing hard barriers like rock walls, causeways, undersized culverts and roads that prevent marshes from migrating inland as sea levels rise. Preserving and protecting salt marshes will be key for local resilience to the coastal impacts of climate change. 

 PEIWA RTK Training (Round 2!)

 Clean Coasts and members of the PEI Watershed Alliance (PEIWA) meet for a virtual training.  
Back in November of 2020, the project team travelled to PEI to meet with our friends and fellow Coastal Restoration Fund (CRF) recipients, the PEI Watershed Alliance (PEIWA). As mentioned in our previous newsletter, Clean Coasts and PEIWA share a common goal of working to conserve and restore the quality of our environmental systems for the benefit of all. During our fall visit with PEIWA, our GIS Specialist, Logan Horrocks, delivered RTK ("Real Time Kinematic") GPS field training to several groups within the Alliance. The RTK is one tool that Clean Coasts uses to conduct our coastal restoration and adaptation work. Specifically, the RTK is used to survey landscapes with centimeter accuracy. This helps us to accurately represent this information on a map and in 3-D space and to use that to inform our restoration and monitoring work. 

On January 20th, 2021, Horrocks provided virtual follow-up training to 13 folks from various groups within the PEIWA on how to upload, view and manage RTK data. In addition, Horrocks provided a PDF guide detailing how-to export and import RTK data, which included visual examples. In a feedback survey delivered to Webinar attendees, 100% of the survey respondents indicated that they would be either somewhat or very likely to apply the RTK data handling training to their future work. As stated by Luke Chaisson, Project Manager for Souris and Area Wildlife Branch, the training was "very informative and was a very worthwhile session to attend" as well as, "concise, well scheduled and structured." That's what we like to hear, Luke! 

Since one of our project goals is to build capacity for increased coastal resilience in the face of climate change, we are grateful for this opportunity to build skills within another region in Atlantic Canada. We hope to be able to host the PEIWA here in Nova Scotia in the final year of our project for a tour of our CRF restoration sites as they did for us last fall, and we look forward to a continued relationship of reciprocal knowledge, skill and resource sharing. 
 

If you or anyone you know would be interested in learning about how the RTK can inform coastal restoration and management, contact Clean Coasts' GIS Specialist, Logan Horrocks, at lhorrocks@clean.ns.ca 

Look out for future how-to resources that will be featured on our website!
GIS Specialist, Logan Horrocks, teaching members of PEIWA how to assemble and operate the RTK in November of 2020.

 Capacity Building with RAE

From left to right: Elsa Schwartz, Doug Myers, Serra Herndon, Wenley Ferguson and Lance Speidell, our wonderful project partners from Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) and member organizations in Nova Scotia in 2018!
Through the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project, we have cultivated amazing partnerships. One example of this is our ongoing collaboration with Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) and member groups, Save The Bay Narragansett, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Tampa Bay Watch. RAE is a national alliance of 10 coastal conservation groups in the U.S that works to restore and preserve America's estuaries and coasts. 

We have learned so much from these incredible leaders in coastal conservation and restoration! To continue this legacy of knowledge-sharing, RAE hosted a webinar series for Clean Coasts over the winter to teach us more about their areas of expertise and give our team the opportunity to ask questions. 

RAE Webinars

Our first webinar on February 11th, 2021 was on best practices for using "runnels" as an approach to coastal restoration, and was delivered by Wenley Ferguson, Director of Habitat Restoration with Save The Bay. "Runnels" are shallow, strategically dug channels that are commonly used to drain impounded water off of a marsh system. During the webinar, Wenley reviewed "lessons learned" from digging runnels at various restoration sites in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island and offered advice for future monitoring and maintenance. Additional topics included sediment placement for marsh elevation enhancement, facilitating marsh migration and the beneficial use of dredge materials. With continued guidance from Wenley, we are using runnels and sediment placement to restore salt marsh habitat at Brule Shore. This webinar was a great opportunity for our team to learn from Wenley's years of field experience and apply this knowledge to our work in Nova Scotia/Mi'kma'ki. 

Our second webinar on March 4th, 2021 was on living shorelines and coastal adaptations and was delivered by Doug Myers, Maryland Senior Scientist with Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We discussed things like the drawbacks of typical shoreline armoring (e.g. bulkheads), the limitations of living shoreline approaches, and how living shorelines have progressed from an "alternative" approach to nonstructural shoreline stabilization in Maryland to a preferred approach by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. We continue to learn so much from Doug's knowledge and look forward to applying these insights to our ongoing living shoreline restoration site, Sitmu'k. 
Click the image to view in higher-resolution. The image shows a list of advantages and limitations to living shoreline approaches, created by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. 
Finally on March 5th, 2021, we learned more about using reef balls to restore coastal habitat with Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director with Tampa Bay Watch (TBW). In particular, Serra discussed TBW's oyster reef ball program and how it is used for shoreline stabilization, erosion management, habitat creation and biological filtration of the surrounding waters. We also discussed TBW's very successful volunteer program, which involves the local community in reef ball construction and deployment in Tampa Bay. This webinar allowed our team to learn more about oyster recruitment on reef balls, reef ball deployment design/spacing, volunteer engagement, and best practices for monitoring reef ball restoration sites. We are so lucky to learn from the experiences of experts like Serra, and are keen to incorporate these teachings into our work at Sitmu'k and into future projects.  

We would like to offer a big thanks to Elsa Schwartz, RAE's Senior Director of Restoration and Administration and Lance Speidell, RAE's Senior Director of Development, for organizing these webinars! 
Project Partners, including RAE and member groups, delivering a panel discussion on "building community coastal resiliency" in Taqamiku'jk (Tatamagouche) in 2019. 
 Restore Brule Shore Video
Click here to watch our video of the restoration works at Brule Shore in Taqamiku'jk (Tatamagouche). 
On September 26th, 2020, Clean Coasts partnered with six local stewards from Millbrook First Nation, Taqamiku’jk (Tatamagouche), and surrounding areas to restore salt marsh habitat along Brule Shore. Partnering with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq (CMM), we also worked with Nuji Kelo’toqatijik Earth Keeper Network Project Coordinator, Hannah Martin, to capture a video that spoke to both the restoration works at Brule and the cultural significance of restoring salt marsh habitat. 

Brule Shore is one of three restoration sites for Clean Coasts, along with Sitmu’k and Marshall’s Crossing. For more information on why and how we restored the Brule Shore marsh and to hear Martin's powerful words, please watch the video below! For more videos from our project, you can visit our website by clicking here or navigate to Clean Foundation's YouTube page here

We hope to conduct future runnel digging, monitoring and management at Brule this coming summer in partnership with community stewards. This continued work should allow vegetation to regrow, support fish habitat, and prevent the site's existing pool from growing larger. 🌿 Extending opportunities for involvement to community members also increases local capacity for doing this work and education around nature-based approaches to climate change adaptation and coastal restoration. Stay tuned for more information on the future stewardship of Brule! 
The Clean Coasts team poses with local stewards at our Restore Brule Shore event, September 2020. 

 WWF Blue Carbon Workshop

WWF-Canada's image advertising the workshop series. To  learn more about WWF-Canada, click on the image. 

On February 3rd, Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, spoke at World Wildlife Fund-Canada (WWF)'s workshop series on blue carbon in the Canadian context. Specifically, Beck presented during the workshop on "Coastal Restoration and Monitoring Blue Carbon." The focus of the workshop was to discuss how we can restore and monitor blue carbon systems to sequester carbon, increase biodiversity and become more resilient to climate change. Beck explained that, while measuring and assessing blue carbon samples is not currently part of our work with the Northumberland Strait Coastal Restoration Project, it is something we are actively pursuing funding to do.

The Team has collected soil samples from each of our restoration sites and will process them as soon as an opportunity arises. Our other goals around blue carbon include contributing to a "gear library" to build capacity to conduct blue carbon sampling and to provide training on sampling techniques to enable the collection of standardized data in Nova Scotia. 

During the workshop, Beck also provided valuable information about our project. For example, he discussed how we use nature-based approaches to create healthy, resilient coastlines and described how we have worked to take a two-eyed seeing (Etuaptmumk) approach to this project. Finally, Beck shared our Dataverse repository, online Atlas, Marshall's Crossing video and Sitmu'k animation. This was a great opportunity to share the story of our project with a wider audience, as the webinar had over 75 attendees from across Canada!


According to WWF's Restoration and Monitoring Workshop Report, Beck's presentation had two key messages:

  1. "We need to ensure that going forward blue carbon objectives and metrics will be considered as eligible for funding under calls for proposals for restoration projects."
  2. "Effectively communicating complex ideas to the public and involving them where possible in skill-building workshops and training is essential to gaining support for healthy coastal ecosystems and integrating community science into restoration and monitoring projects."
We couldn't agree more with those points and look forward to being able to incorporate blue carbon objectives and metrics into future restoration projects in Nova Scotia/across Mi'kma'ki! 
Clean Coasts' Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck. 
Interested in joining WWF's workshop series, "Building Connections for Blue Carbon Across Canada"? There are two remaining sessions on March 24th and April 14th, 2021. Learn more by clicking the button below! 
Click here to learn more

 ACCESS Virtual Conference

An image from a past ACCESS Conference hosted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Atlantic Canada Coastal and Estuarine Science Society (ACCESS) is now accepting registrations, abstract submissions, and presentation/poster submissions for their 2021 virtual conference, taking place on May 13th and 14th, 2021. This conference has a longstanding tradition of offering a collegial opportunity for students and professionals in aquatic science to network and share their research. This year's conference will provide a forum for connecting emerging and established scientists to share their aquatic research with one another. 

The format of the conference will require pre-recorded video presentations and/or poster PDF's that will remain accessible to attendees for an extended period. The cost for the 2021 ACCESS Virtual Conference will be $40 for students and $65 for professionals who register before the early bird deadline on 14 April ($60 for students and $100 for professionals after 14 April).

The cost of registration includes annual membership to the Atlantic Canada Coastal and Estuarine Science Society. This membership grants you voting privileges at the Annual General Meeting and adds you to the emailing list for our electronic newsletter with updates on ACCESS business, research activities, and job opportunities. Registration and abstract submission will be live on the ACCESS website as of 20 March. To read more about the call for abstracts, click here

ACCESS is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The Society's members are dedicated to advancing human understanding and appreciation of Atlantic Canada’s estuaries and coasts, to the wise use and management of these environments, and to making the results of their research and management actions available to their colleagues and to the public. Members of the Society include academic and government researchers, public sector managers, teachers, consultants, students and others who are interested in estuaries.

Questions or concerns? Email info.access.exec@gmail.com. For a link to the registration page and ACCESS' website, click below.

Register for ACCESS 2021 Conference
Restoration Specialist, Allen Beck, presents at a past ACCESS Conference. Fun fact: Beck is currently the President of ACCESS. GIS Specialist, Logan Horrocks, is also helping to coordinate this year's virtual conference. We are proud of our team members!

 2021 City Nature Challenge

If you enjoy being out in nature, learning more about wild plants and animals and want to put the Maritimes on the global nature scene, consider joining the 2021 City Nature Challenge! Between April 30th-May 3rd, participants are encouraged to snap photos of local flora and fauna within the 7 defined CNC areas in the Maritimes and then upload those images to the specific iNaturalist project page for your area. These areas include: HRM, the Annapolis Valley, CBRM, Charlotte County, Westmorland County, Fredericton, and urban PEI. 

As mentioned, each of these areas has its own CNC iNat project page. To participate, you can download the free iNaturalist App and then join one (or multiple) local CNC projects. To find the iNaturalist page for your area, click hereFor a video made by Clean Coasts describing how to use iNaturalist, click here

After all participants upload their photos ("observations"), the iNat community will work to identify the plants and animals found and then release the results of the challenge on Monday, May 10th! This event isn't just for the Maritimes, but will include other locations around the world. Each region will compete for the title of "most biodiverse city." 

What are you waiting for? As the weather warms, join the 2021 CNC for an easy and fun excuse to get outdoors, learn more about your local environment, and put the Maritimes on the global map for its rich biodiversity! 

Looking for more information? Visit the Facebook event page for this year's CNC by clicking here or email CNC2019HRM@gmail.com
Back in 2020, Clean Coasts hosted our very own Bioblitz at Brule Shore. This was the second bioblitz hosted by our team. We are longstanding iNaturalist fans!

 Get Involved with Clean Coasts!

In light of COVID-19, we will continue to find safe ways to engage with local communities, rights holders, regulatory bodies, partner organizations, municipalities, and politicians. Through sharing the important work we are doing and fostering a dialogue about salt marsh restoration, we hope to enhance coastal resiliency in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia.
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!
The Clean Coasts team wishes you a safe, healthy, and happy start to the spring! We look forward to sharing more project updates with you in our upcoming spring 2021 newsletter. 
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