RUSSELL — South Nation Conservation’s (SNC) recently completed the Bear Brook Subwatershed Report Card giving an assessment ranging from fair to excellent for forest cover, wetland cover, and surface water quality for the area.
Named for the plentiful number of bears which once foraged on acorns in the area, Bear Brook is an important Subwatershed within SNC’s 4,384 km2 jurisdiction. It comprises parts of the rural east end of the City of Ottawa, City of Clarence-Rockland, Township of Russell, and Nation Municipality.
SNC staff regularly assess and create report cards on various subwatersheds within the jurisdiction. The reports help prioritize stewardship activities and help with planning reviews.
The total forest cover in the Bear Brook Subwatershed is 38 percent; one of the areas in SNC’s jurisdiction with the highest forest cover. Environment and Climate Change Canada recommends a minimum 30 percent forest cover to help reduce flooding and erosion, filter air and water, and provide wildlife habitat.
Environment and Climate Change Canada also recommends that 75 percent of stream length be vegetated on both sides (i.e. the riparian area). “Bear Brook needs improvement in terms of its forested riparian cover as it is currently at 27 percent,” said Katherine Watson, SNC Water Resources Specialist.
The Subwatershed enjoys an “excellent” wetland cover rating at 19 percent, providing natural flood management during peak flows and water retention reservoirs during dry weather. “Wetlands also filter pollutants and provide wildlife habitat,” Watson noted.
As for surface water conditions in the Subwatershed, areas of poor water quality typically had low forest cover making them prone to erosion.
Residents can help improve the Subwatershed by planting trees to help control erosion and reforest idle land, and participate in SNC’s Woodlot Advisory Service which provides landowners with practical information on biodiversity and sustainable management.
Residents can also participate in the City of Ottawa Stream Watch Program where volunteers assess water chemistry, wildlife and fish activity and also in the SNC Clean Water Program which offers subsidies to landowners for projects such as erosion control, decommissioning abandoned wells, and more.