The Kennebecasis Restoration initiative began with a comprehensive habitat assessment of 285.5 km of stream. The results of this assessment highlighted the need to address elevated stream temperatures and degraded riparian zones to improve the health of the watershed. To address concerns over eroding banks and degraded riparian habitat, a restoration project was developed and implemented. Approximately 78% of the Kennebecasis Watershed consists of forested lands, with 19% consisting of agricultural and occupied lands. Agricultural, residential, and other occupied lands directly influence the water quality and habitat conditions of the watershed through cattle grazing, riparian vegetation removal, and agricultural and municipal runoff. Residential areas as well as rural residences, dot the entire length of the Kennebecasis River and its tributaries. Industries such as a potash mine, sawmills, and fish hatcheries are located throughout its reaches. Recreational industries including two golf courses can also be found on the Kennebecasis tributaries. Ward’s Creek is a key tributary of the Kennebecasis and in 2013 the KWRC identified a priority site on this Creek. In 2014, the bank was heavily eroded with a steep slope and minimal vegetation.
In 2013, the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC) developed the Ward’s Creek Riparian Enhancement initiative to address concerns over eroding banks and a degrading riparian habitat. Located in southern New Brunswick near Sussex, KWRC is a non-profit organization that works with all the rivers, streams and lakes that flow into the Kennebecasis River. The Kennebecasis River is a major tributary to the Lower Saint John River. Kennebecasis is a Maliseet term that means “little snake”, a good description for the river whose watershed covers 134,660 hectares, flowing through Sussex, Norton, Hampton, Quispamsis, Rothesay, and parts of Saint John. The main stem of the river is more than 90 kilometers long from the head of tide at Bloomfield to its source near Hamilton Lake, east of Sussex. KWRC’s mission is to advance habitat restoration, public awareness and participation and restore the Kennebecasis Watershed back to a sustainable ecosystem. The Kennebecasis River Watershed has a high percentage of agricultural land use (19%). Much of this land base is directly adjacent to rivers and streams in the watershed. Eroding stream banks and degrading riparian areas are a concern for both the agricultural community and the KWRC in the region, particularly in the context of a changing climate. Increased erosion can reduce available land for production, while warmer temperatures with less canopy coverage can increase water temperatures and may play a role in the introduction of new threats (e.g. invasive species) into the watershed. With the number of municipalities, recreational opportunities, as well as various corporate interests, the health of this watershed is important.