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The "Lead Fishing Tackle Buy Back Program," is a voluntary initiative that will serve to reduce toxic lead fishing tackle from accumulating in the environment where it is responsible for the deaths of millions of birds and other wildlife annually. Loons, eagles, swans and waterfowl are especially vulnerable. Lead is very harmful to all living things, including people and it threatens our water quality. Lead (Pb) is a neuro-toxin which attacks the nervous system and can lead to blindness, decreased reproductivity, seizures and death. Lead is fatal to loons and other aquatic birds.
The WLA, through a generous donation from the Alastair and Diana Gillespie foundation, contributed $1500 towards the cost to replace two failing 4-foot culvers on private property along Scanlan Creek with twin 5-foot culverts. Installed last summer, the wider pipes may encourage cautious walleye to travel through to historically significant spawning habitat.
According to a recent Watersheds Canada media release, scant snowfall over a relatively easy winter and continued below-average precipitation this spring resulted in area creeks flowing well below normal. The lack of depth has translated to very poor walleye recruitment at various spawning bed rehab sites. While this is indeed disappointing, we cannot control Mother Nature and must once again look ahead to next year with fingers crossed.
Early summer visual observations of the sites by our Water Quality Director, showed "thousands" of fry (young-of-the-year-fish), presumably bass, using the submerged trees for protective habitat.
Over the past decade, there have been only a few documented loon chicks successfully hatched and fledged on Wolfe Lake. Loons face many threats, including lead toxicity and habitat loss. Their eggs and chicks are especially vulnerable to predation, being swamped by boat and jet-ski wakes or run over by these watercraft.
In hopes of facilitating loon nesting success, the WLA has placed a nesting platform on the lake this spring. Please resist the temptation to linger or move closer to these platforms. Loons may abandon eggs under the pressure of humans. When a loon is flattening herself (picture below) she is interpreting a threat and is trying to hide.
Please refrain from creating large wakes around islands and shallow bays where loons nest and be highly vigilant for small chicks unable to dive to escape approaching watercraft.
In an effort to facilitate spawning Walleye at a juncture of Scanlan Creek below a pair of twin culverts, the Wolfe Lake (Westport) Association has spearheaded a new spawning bed restoration project.
This past spring, the WLA learned that a pair of culverts under a private laneway on Scanlan Creek were failing. Scanlan Creek feeds directly into Wolfe Lake and provides historically significant spawning habitat for fish, particularly walleye. After discussions with the private property owner, our Directorship committed $1500 to cover the cost difference to upgrade from the existing 4-foot pipe size to larger, 5-foot diameter pipes. Wider pipes create a more fish-friendly environment by displacing water flow and reducing turbidity from the spring freshet, which is typically quite forceful at the site. The plan included partially burying the pipes into the creek bed and lining their bases with rock. This produces a more natural navigation route for walleye previously unwilling to pass through the old pipes and encourages them to sojourn onwards. We believe these improvements may allow the fish to reclaim additional spawning habitat that has been cut off for decades.
The culvert upgrade and associated site work was completed by the property owner late last summer and looks terrific. The site will be monitored early this spring in conjunction with our extensive walleye spawning habitat restoration project that was completed downstream in 2019 in partnership with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and the Westport Area Outdoor Association. Upgrading the failing culverts was a fitting extension to this past initiative, as both projects will work in tandem to support Wolfe Lake’s walleye population.
A generous gift from the Alastair and Diana Gillespie Foundation allowed us to contribute the financial resources necessary to implement the culvert upgrade, for which we are sincerely grateful. We also wish to express gratitude to the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation for its assistance in receiving and disbursing the funds on behalf of the Wolfe Lake Association.
Fishing Director, WLA
A partnership reprise fueled another environmental project, this time submerging tree bundles to enhance fish and wildlife habitat. The wood was sunk in locales previously identified by the RVCA as being advantageous yet safe. Submerged wood attracts many fish species and their young of the year, as well as turtles, herons, kingfishers, dragonflies, and invertebrates. We will be monitoring sites over the next few years using an underwater camera.
Parks Canada alters water levels of reservoirs keeping in consideration of public safety, the environment, fishery and navigation along the Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa. In response to several questions regarding the depletion of the Wolfe Lake, Parks Canada reported they are guided by old legislation. Parks Canada admitted that low water levels could happen again to maintain the 5' draft for marine traffic.
You can read about Parks Canada's Response in the WLA News Magazine Page 10