Group has money

Mon­tague/Val­ley­field wa­ter­shed group back in busi­ness

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY STEVE SHAR­RATT

Wa­ter­shed en­hance­ment group en­er­gized.

Imag­ine the glint of the fly whip­ping over the spir­ited wa­ters of the Val­ley­field River and hook­ing an At­lantic salmon.

Once upon a time you could. But to­day, the river is more like a trickle and a salmon wouldn’t sur­vive in such a crum­bling habi­tat.

How­ever, resur­gence is un­der­way and the newly en­er­gized Mon­tague/Val­ley­field wa­ter­shed en­hance­ment group is armed with some­thing it hasn’t had in 20 years — fund­ing.

And now with some money to in­vest, the group is host­ing a ses­sion of pub­lic meet­ings to gather in­put on ways to bring the rivers and streams in the south­east­ern re­gion of the prov­ince back to glory.

“The Val­ley­field River used to be a prime spot for salmon,’’ says mem­ber Jackie Bour­geois. “We’d like to see that hap­pen one day again.”

Bour­geois ad­mits it could be a pipe dream, but you have to start some­where.

“There’s a ton of things out there in the wa­ter­sheds that need to be done and we want landown­ers, res­i­dents and en­vi­ron­ment sup­port­ers to pro­vide their opin­ions.”

Board mem­ber Ian Petrie says peo­ple have be­come used to see­ing the Mon­tague River turn red af­ter a heavy rain.

“But it doesn’t have to be that way, and part of it will be work­ing with landown­ers to see if we can solve some is­sues,’’ he said, not­ing the fine work done by other wa­ter­shed and wildlife groups like West River and Souris.

The sil­ta­tion build up at the Loane Road bridge is a good ex­am­ple of one pos­si­ble pro­ject.

“It’s all silted in now,’’ says Petrie.

“And the river, that once flowed, is now a trickle.”

The group is now work­ing in co-op­er­a­tion with the South­east En­vi­ron­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and has an op­por­tu­nity to se­cure about $75,000 in fund­ing from the prov­ince.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do and we have to con­vince peo­ple that we’re back in busi­ness,’’ said Bour­geois. “We hope ev­ery­one of­fers some in­sight.”

STEVE SHAR­RATT/THE GUARDIAN

Dream­ing of river im­prove­ments in the Mon­tague-Val­ley­field wa­ter­shed are mem­bers from left, Ian Petrie, Chan­tal Bour­geois and Jackie Bour­geois ,who are pre­par­ing for pub­lic meet­ings.

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