Stewardship and Protection of the St. Lawrence Islands between Repentigny and the Archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre 2009-10

Stewardship and Protection of the St. Lawrence Islands between Repentigny and the Archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre Final Project Report 2009/2010 (pdf) (In French only)

Goals and Objectives

The goal of this project is to continue our contribution to the “Protection” and “Planning” activities of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture (EHJV). With this intention, several activities will be carried out in collaboration with the local stakeholders in order to ensure the increased protection of the wetlands and quality habitats of the waterfowl species on the properties protected in perpetuity by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

Thus, we request the financial support of Wildlife Habitat Canada to support the NCC’s activities to fill certain gaps in terms of stewardship and planning regarding wetlands of importance on our properties. At the same time, we continue our steps of protecting the natural environments by means of acquisition of properties or real and perpetual conservation easements in areas of interest for waterfowl, with the continual objective of improving our contribution to the “Protection” activity of the EHJV. In addition, we wish to carry out the acquisition of at least one property in the year 2009-2010.

Activities

On the Ground Stewardship (Planning Activity of the EHJV)

1. Improvement of the system of electric fences around the pasture enclosures to exclude cattle (250 cows) from wetlands and riparian habitats in areas at Moine Island.

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of a map superimposing the location of the properties belonging to the NCC, the fencing system, the grazing areas and the wetlands on Moine Island, to ensure good progress of the on the ground work.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010

2. Developing a framework for the agricultural activities allowed on our properties at Bouchard Island. The practices supporting the presence of waterfowl in the long term will be strongly encouraged and included in our agricultural leases (e.g. farming not requiring spreading herbicides, field rotation, buffer zones along the wetlands, etc.)

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of a map locating the agricultural fields and the wetlands on the NCC’s properties. This map will make it possible for the farmers to better adapt to the new restrictions.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010

3. Promotion of hunting on the NCC’s properties relative to the conservation of wetlands and developing a framework for educational and awareness activities in the area of the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre. This activity has the goal, among others, of minimizing the impact of recreational boating on waterfowl habitat.

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of maps indicating the site of the NCC’s properties in the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre, the wetlands and the areas used by the waterfowl during the spring and autumn migration. These maps will be used to enrich the educational activities and will be distributed to the hunters who have signed a lease with the NCC.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010

4. Negotiation of a long term hunting lease with an individual or a group of hunters for our properties on Bouchard Island, as well as for the islands of Asperges, à l’Aigle et Cerfeuils. The purpose of signing a proper lease for hunting is to avoid non-authorized hunting on the NCC’s properties and to promote the contribution of hunters relative to the conservation of wetlands.

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of maps showing the limits of the NCC’s properties and the wetlands. These maps will be attached to the new hunting leases so that the hunters can locate the NCC lands, as well as the wetlands.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010

5. Planning and implementation of stewardship activities intended for volunteers, with the goals of promoting the protection of wetlands on our properties and of optimizing the quality of the waterfowl habitat. These land activities will include the tagging and spring inventories of breeding species on our properties located at the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre.

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of maps for each of the NCC’s properties so that the volunteers can locate the limits of the lands, wetlands, the important areas for waterfowl and the species that are in a precarious situation. These maps will facilitate the stewardship activities mentioned above.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010

Negotiations and Acquisition of Property(s) (Protection Activity of the EHJV)

Negotiations and solicitation in order to acquire a property comprising wetlands of interest for waterfowl.

a) Negotiations with the owner of Hervieux island who was already approached by the NCC a few years ago. This island is located in the municipality of Lavaltrie and extends over a surface area of 17.72 hectares

b) Resumption of canvassing near the owner of a land of 92 hectares on Bouchard Island, in the municipality of Saint-Sulpice. The NCC began the steps of conservation with the owner to obtain an option of conservation in 2004.

Geographic information system (GIS) and mapping:

– Creation of maps showing the location of the properties targeted by the NCC, as well as the site of the species in a precarious situation and the wetlands on these lands. These maps will be presented to the landowners being targeted by the NCC, to the partners of these acquisition projects and to potential donors.

Schedule: July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010

Specific Habitat Products/Results to be Supported by WHC’s Contributions

Stewardship Activity #1

The northeastern point of Moine Island is covered with marsh and wet meadows and belongs entirely to the NCC. The improvement of the electrical fencing system in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, DUC, and the farmers of the Moine Island community, will make it possible to reduce the impact of cattle on the natural areas and increase the quality of the pasture land, among other things, by the rotation of the animals in four different enclosures. The NCC therefore wishes to reinforce the protection of 287 hectares of wetlands on Moine Island and to make these important areas safe for waterfowl.

Stewardship Activity #2

The NCC will develop frameworks for agricultural practices on one of the three properties at Bouchard Island which will improve the value of 8 hectares of land for the nesting of waterfowl species, such as the gadwall and other avian species that are present in this area. This activity will also be beneficial for all other birds and animals that are likely to be disturbed by the spreading of herbicides for traditional agriculture.

Stewardship Activity #3

The NCC wishes to promote hunting on its properties in the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre by stimulating the involvement of hunters relative to the conservation of some 393 hectares of wetlands (swamp, wet meadow, marsh, aquatic herbarium) protected by the NCC in the area of the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre.

Stewardship Activity #4

The signing of leases will make it possible to limit the non-authorized access and hunting on the NCC properties in the two targeted areas, Bouchard Island and the islands of Asperges, Aigle and Cerfeuils. The income generated by these leases will, among other things, finance the participation of local hunters in on the ground stewardship activities that support the enhancement and protection of marshes and swamps with a total area of 75 hectares.

Stewardship Activity #5

The participation of volunteers in stewardship activities such as tagging, monitoring and doing spring inventories of breeding species will ensure better management of our properties in the archipelago of Lake Saint-Pierre. More than 393 hectares of wetlands will thus be better secured against the intrusions and disturbance to waterfowl species.

Activity #6 – Negotiations and Acquisition of a Property

The NCC is going to make the required efforts so that the negotiations and canvassing, in view of acquiring a property in the middle of the area, can result in the protection of important wetlands for waterfowl. The acquisition of Hervieux Island will result in the protection of 5.7 hectares of wet meadow, 3.7 hectares of aquatic herbarium, 2.1 hectares of marsh and 0.1 hectares of swamp. The municipality of Lavaltrie, which was interested in the management of the Island before, will be invited to collaborate in the stewardship and enhancement activities. A conservation easement held by the NCC on the Giguère property would make it possible to secure 1.8 hectares of marsh, 0.9 hectares of swamp and 0.2 hectares of wet meadow. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife and DUC will be solicited to participate in the talks in connection with the Hervieux Island and the Giguère property.

Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetlands-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

Stewardship Activity #1

The trampling and grazing of cattle increases erosion and degrades the terrestrial and aquatic vegetation of the island habitats. It is essential to confine the animals, by ensuring a constant maintenance of watering sites, in order to maximize the potential for the broods of dabbling ducks and any other species associated with wetlands. The muskrat occupies most of the northeastern point of Moine Island and this small mammal will benefit from a natural habitat where cattle do not have access.

Stewardship Activity #2

The NCC will develop frameworks for agricultural practices on one of the three properties at Bouchard Island which will improve the value of 8 hectares of land for the nesting of waterfowl species, such as the gadwall and other avian species that are present in this area. This activity will also be beneficial for all other birds and animals that are likely to be disturbed by the spreading of herbicides for traditional agriculture.

Stewardship Activity #5

The objectives of this activity are to optimize the quality of the habitat of Canada geese, snow geese, and several species of dabbling ducks which frequent the area during the spring migration. The activity will also make it possible to better secure the marshes that are visited by susceptible and vulnerable waterfowl species, such as the Blue-winged Teal and Ruddy Duck.

Activity #6 – Negotiations and Acquisition of a Property

a) In the situation where the NCC carries out the acquisition of Hervieux Island, Canada geese as well as many other dabbling and diving ducks which frequent the island in the spring will benefit from a protected and non-disturbed place. During the autumn migration, it is the dabbling ducks that will profit because they dominate largely during this time of the year. Other threatened will benefit from this activity, such as the Green Dragon plant that the island shelters according to the data centre on the natural heritage of Quebec, as well as the Copper Redhorse fish for which Hervieux Island was recognized as a potential site of spawning and stocking with fish (Fisheries and Oceans Canada).

b) The north-eastern half of Bouchard Island, where the project property is located, is considered to be an area of concentration for waterfowl during the spring migration in the Varennes- Contrecœur Regional Assessment published by the St. Lawrence Center (1998). Given that the NCC holds a conservation easement on the project property, the populations of nesting and non-nesting waterfowl frequenting the north-east of Bouchard Island will greatly benefit. The NCC already protects three lands in this area of the island and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) holds a fourth of it.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

The NCC is the most active conservation organization in the area of the St. Lawrence River islands between Repentigny and Lake Saint-Pierre. The NCC currently protects more than 436 hectares of wetlands in a total area of 1,936 hectares of wetlands in the identified area, nearly 23%. Two hundred and thirty six hectares are protected by other conservation or government organizations.

It is essential that our organization carries out meticulous planning in collaboration with all the regional stakeholders and the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture partners. Thus, by encouraging the participation and involvement of the previously mentioned regional stakeholders, this project will allow the total and beneficial management of all of the targeted area, and address the objectives of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture. Planning must be done in collaboration with the partners to prevent duplicating our efforts and to optimize the performance of all partners, as well as each one individually.

Project Location

Our project targets the islands of the St. Lawrence River between the archipelago of Varennes and that of Lake Saint-Pierre involving several municipalities along southern and northern banks. The biophysical characteristics of these islands differ enormously; the composition of the vegetation varies from one archipelago to another and also within the same archipelago. The periodical flooding of, and access to, the islands (bridges, barges, recreational boats, etc.) greatly influence the type of floral species present. The high meadows count for more than 25% of the total area of the islands whereas the low meadows occupy 10-15%. One also finds marshes and swamps there, as well as an important area of agricultural fields.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Mélanie Frenette, Project Manager – Covey Hill, St. Lawrence River and Montérégiennes Hills, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Montreal, Quebec.