Rainy River watershed project to be launched

An innovative environmental stewardship project for the Rainy River watershed will be launched at the roundhouse at the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre on Thursday at 10 a.m.
Rainy River First Nations Chief Gary Medicine, along with Karan Aquino, executive director of the Living Legacy Trust, as well as reps from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, will be on hand.
“Obviously, this is very good news for the Rainy River Watershed program,” said Pierre Paquette, a spokesman for the Living Legacy Trust. “It will receive a little more than $400,000 over the next year.”
Guests at the project launch will have a chance to interact with field staff, and view informative displays on the use of technologies and methodologies in completing field projects.
The watershed program is developing a framework that will set out a co-ordinated approach to land and water use.
“It’s a framework that will assist us in how we address fishery-related resource issues,” said Martin Nantel, head of the Rainy River Watershed program. “There’s four different projects, you could call them ‘our field projects,’ but the approach is a gap analysis approach.
“We’re going to conduct a detailed literature review to find out what has been documented in the Rainy River watershed.
“Based on that, the plan is to communicate with municipalities that are our partners and stakeholders to communicate/discuss issues of concern so that will provide another body of knowledge to add to the already existing knowledge,” he continued.
With the funding, the watershed program will take on a number of projects, including a habitat inventory, an impact assessment on the banks of the river, a study on juvenile sturgeon habitat, a low-flow, quality monitoring project on the tributaries, and a fish contaminant sampling on the Rainy River, including mercury and pesticides.
The program involves a coalition of partners led by the Rainy River First Nations to accomplish three key objectives:
•to identify knowledge gaps and set strategic priorities for management of the fisheries resources of the Rainy River and its tributaries on an ecologically-sound basis;
•to develop a stewardship framework model for managing natural resources of the Rainy River watershed; and
•to gather additional fisheries resource information based on traditional knowledge and innovative scientific approaches that will advance the understanding of aquatic ecology, as well as additional science and management needs in the watershed.
Nantel said the framework not only will help the environment but possibly provide a “model of collaboration.”
“Other aboriginal groups can use it to develop co-operative stewardship initiatives,” he noted. “If we pilot this approach, it could have much wider implications.”