Jock River Subwatershed Report 2016
JOCK RIVER-FRANKTOWN CATCHMENT
The RVCA produces individual reports for 12 catchments in the Jock River subwatershed. Using data collected and analyzed by the RVCA through its watershed monitoring and land cover classification programs, surface water quality and in-stream conditions are reported for the Jock River along with a summary of environmental conditions for the surrounding countryside every six years.
This information is used to better understand the effects of human activity on our water resources, allows us to better track environmental change over time and helps focus watershed management actions where they are needed the most to help sustain the ecosystem services (cultural, aesthetic and recreational values; provisioning of food, fuel and clean water; regulation of erosion/natural hazard protection and water purification; supporting nutrient/water cycling and habitat provision) provided by the catchment’s lands and forests and waters (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).
The following sections of this report for the Jock River - Franktown catchment are a compilation of that work.
|Land Stewardship and Water Resources Protection
For other Jock River catchments and the Jock River Subwatershed Report, please visit the RVCA website at www.rvca.ca
Figure 1 Land cover in the Jock River - Franktown catchment
1.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Facts
1.1 General/Physical Geography
- Beckwith (70 km2; 89% of catchment)
- Montague (9 km2; 11% of catchment)
- The Franktown Catchment resides with an extensive physiographic region known as the Smith Falls Limestone Plain. In this catchment, the limestone plain is generally overlain by organic soils. In this catchment, bedrock mostly consists of interbedded sandstone and dolostone of the March Formation and some dolostone of the Oxford Formation in the northern parts
- The ground surface ranges in elevation from greater than 145 masl east of Franktown Road to approximately 130 masl at the catchment’s outlet
- 91 square kilometers; occupies 14 percent of the Jock River subwatershed, two percent of the Rideau Valley watershed
- Jock River and tributaries: 88 km
1.2 Vulnerable Areas
- The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection initiative has mapped scattered parts of this catchment as significant groundwater recharge areas and all the catchment as Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. There are no Well Head Protection Areas in this catchment
- A watershed model developed by the RVCA in 2009 was used to study the hydrologic function of wetlands in the Rideau Valley Watershed, including those found in the Franktown catchment
1.3 Conditions at a Glance
- Instream biological water quality conditions at the Jock River Franktown sample location range from “Poor” to “Very Poor” from 2011 to 2015 (using a grading scheme developed by Ontario Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates) with an overall benthic invertebrate water quality rating of “Poor” determined for this period
- Surface chemistry water quality rating is unknown for the Jock River in the Franktown catchment
Instream and Riparian
- Overall instream and riparian condition for the Franktown catchment is unknown
- Warm/cool water thermal guild supporting the Jock River fishery
- Ten species of recreational and bait fish
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
- Wetland (81%)
- Woodland (6%)
- Crop and Pasture (6%)
- Transportation (4%)
- Settlement (1%)
- Aggregate (1%)
- Meadow-Thicket (<1%)
Land Cover Type (2014)
- Wetland (48%)
- Woodland (25%)
- Crop and Pasture (16%)
- Settlement (5%)
- Meadow-Thicket (3%)
- Transportation (2%)
- Aggregate (1%)
- Water (<1%)
Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
- Woodland (-12 ha)
- Crop and Pasture (-7 ha)
- Meadow-Thicket (-6 ha)
- Aggregate (-2 ha)
- Transportation (0 ha)
- Wetland (+2 ha)
- Water (+5 ha)
- Settlement (+20 ha)
Significant Natural Features
- Franktown Swamp Provincially Significant Wetland
- Goodwood Marsh Area of Natural and Scientific Interest
- Goodwood Marsh Provincially Significant Wetland
- Several hundred (~ 480) operational private water wells in the catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic but also include livestock watering and public and commercial water supplies
- Part of one bedrock quarry license located within the catchment
Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
- Loggerhead Shrike (Endangered)
- Blanding’s Turtle, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Gray Ratsnake (Threatened)
- Snapping Turtle (Special Concern)
1.4 Catchment Care
- Eleven stewardship projects undertaken (see Section 4)
- Benthic invertebrate (aquatic insect) surface (in-stream) water quality collection since 2011 (see Section 2.1.1)
- Fish survey along the Jock River (see Section 2.1.3)
- Ten headwater drainage feature assessments in 2015 at road crossings in the catchment. The protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features and is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (see Section 2.2)
- Groundwater chemistry information is available from the Ontario Geological Survey for two wells located in this catchment
- Development along the Jock River and in and adjacent to the Provincially Significant Wetlands in the catchment (Franktown Swamp, Goodwood Marsh) are subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”) that protects the hydrologic function of the wetland and also protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable soils) associated with them
- One active Permit To Take Water (PTTW) in the catchment that was issued for construction dewatering
- Three Environmental Compliance Approvals and/or Environmental Activity and Sector Registrations in the catchment. These are for a municipal or private sewage work; a standby power system and air emissions
2. Surface Water Quality Conditions
Barbers Creek Water Quality
Water Quality Rating
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3.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Riparian Conditions
3.1 Jock River Instream Aquatic Habitat
3.1.1 Benthic Invertebrates
Freshwater benthic invertebrates are animals without backbones that live on the stream bottom and include crustaceans such as crayfish, molluscs and immature forms of aquatic insects. Benthos represent an extremely diverse group of aquatic animals and exhibit wide ranges of responses to stressors such as organic pollutants, sediments and toxicants, which allows scientists to use them as bioindicators. As part of the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network (OBBN), the RVCA has been collecting benthic invertebrates at the Highway 15 site on the Jock River since 2011. Monitoring data is analyzed for each sample site and the results are presented using the Family Biotic Index, Family Richness and percent Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera.
Highway 15 sample location conditions in the Franktown catchment
Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index
The Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index (FBI) is an indicator of organic and nutrient pollution and provides an estimate of water quality conditions for each site using established pollution tolerance values for benthic invertebrates. Figure 11 displays the FBI results for the Jock River Franktown catchment sample location at Highway 15 for reporting period 2011 to 2015. “Poor” to “Very Poor” water quality conditions being observed at the Jock River Franktown sample location using a grading scheme developed by Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates.
Figure 11 Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index at the Jock River Highway 15 sample location
Family Richness measures the health of the community through its diversity and increases with increasing habitat diversity suitability and healthy water quality conditions. Family Richness is equivalent to the total number of benthic invertebrate families found within a sample. The Jock River Franktown site is reported to have “Fair” family richness (Figure 12).
Figure 12 Family Richness at the Jock River Highway 15 sample location
Ephemeroptera (Mayflies), Plecoptera (Stoneflies), and Trichoptera (Caddisflies) are species considered to be very sensitive to poor water quality conditions. High abundance of these organisms is generally an indication of good water quality conditions at a sample location. The species community structure at the Highway 15 site are highly and moderately tolerant to poor water quality conditions. As a result, the EPT indicates that the Jock River Franktown sample location is reported to have “Poor” aquatic habitat conditions (Figure 13) from 2011 to 2015.
Figure 13 EPT at the Jock River Highway 15 sample location
Overall the Jock River Franktown sample location aquatic habitat conditions from a benthic invertebrate perspective is considered “poor” from 2011 to 2015 as the samples are dominated by species that are moderately sensitive and sensitive to high organic pollution levels.Overall the Jock River Franktown catchment sample location aquatic habitat conditions from a benthic invertebrate perspective is considered “poor” from 2011 to 2015 as the samples are dominated by species that are moderately sensitive and sensitive to high organic pollution levels.
3.1.2 Thermal Regime
Many factors can influence fluctuations in stream temperature, including springs, tributaries, precipitation runoff, discharge pipes and stream shading from riparian vegetation. Water temperature is used along with the maximum air temperature (using the Stoneman and Jones method) to classify a watercourse as either warm water, cool water or cold water. Figure 14 shows where the thermal sampling sites were located along Jock River Franktown. Sample location identified as number one on the map was missing and could not be retrieved. Analysis of the data collected indicates that Jock River Franktown catchment is classified as a cool to warm water system with cool water reaches (Figure 15).
Figure 14 Temperature logger locations in the Jock River Franktown catchment
Figure 15 Temperature logger data for the Highway 15 site on the Jock River in the Franktown catchment.
Each point on the graph represents a temperature that meets the following criteria:
- Sampling dates between July 1st and September 7th
- Sampling date is preceded by two consecutive days above 24.5 °C, with no rain
- Water temperatures are collected at 4pm
- Air temperature is recorded as the max temperature for that day
3.1.3 Fish Community
The Jock River Franktown catchment is classified as a mixed community of warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 10 species observed. Figure 16 shows the sampling locations in the Hobbs Drain catchment.
Figure 16 Fish community observations in the Franktown catchment
The following table contains a list of species observed in the watershed.
Fish species observed in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2 Headwater Drainage Feature Assessment
3.2.1 Headwater Sampling Locations
The RVCA Stream Characterization program assessed Headwater Drainage Features for the Jock River subwatershed in 2015. This protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features (HDF). It is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (HDF). RVCA is working with other Conservation Authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to implement the protocol with the goal of providing standard datasets to support science development and monitoring of headwater drainage features. An HDF is a depression in the land that conveys surface flow. Additionally, this module provides a means of characterizing the connectivity, form and unique features associated with each HDF (OSAP Protocol, 2013). In 2015 the program sampled 10 sites at road crossings in the Jock River Franktown catchment area (Figure 17).
Figure 17 Location of the headwater sampling site in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.2 Headwater Feature Type
The headwater sampling protocol assesses the feature type in order to understand the function of each feature. The evaluation includes the following classifications: defined natural channel, channelized or constrained, multi-thread, no defined feature, tiled, wetland, swale, roadside ditch and pond outlet. By assessing the values associated with the headwater drainage features in the catchment area we can understand the ecosystem services that they provide to the watershed in the form of hydrology, sediment transport, and aquatic and terrestrial functions. The headwater drainage features in the Franktown catchment are primarily classified as wetland with one feature classified as natural and another one as a road side ditch. Figure 18 shows the feature type of the primary feature at the sampling locations.
Figure 18 Headwater feature types in the Jock River Franktown catchment
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Jock River Franktown catchment located on Beckwith 6th Line
A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Jock River Franktown catchment located on Beckwith 6th Line
3.2.3 Headwater Feature Flow
The observed flow condition within headwater drainage features can be highly variable depending on timing relative to the spring freshet, recent rainfall, soil moisture, etc. Flow conditions are assessed in the spring and in the summer to determine if features are perennial and flow year round, if they are intermittent and dry up during the summer months or if they are ephemeral systems that do not flow regularly and generally respond to specific rainstorm events or snowmelt. Flow conditions in headwater systems can change from year to year depending on local precipitation patterns. Figure 19 shows the observed flow condition at the sampling locations in the Jock River Franktown catchment in 2015.
Figure 19 Headwater feature flow conditions in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.4 Feature Channel Modifications
Channel modifications were assessed at each headwater drainage feature sampling location. Modifications include channelization, dredging, hardening and realignments. The Jock River Franktown catchment area had one site as having been dredged, while the remaining locations had no channel modifications observed. Figure 20 shows the channel modifications observed at the sampling locations for Jock River Franktown.
Figure 20 Headwater feature channel modifications in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.5 Headwater Feature Vegetation
Headwater feature vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found within the drainage feature. The type of vegetated within the channel influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides. For many types of headwater features the vegetation within the feature plays a very important role in flow and sediment movement and provides wildlife habitat. The following classifications are evaluated no vegetation, lawn, wetland, meadow, scrubland and forest. Figure 21 depicts the dominant vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Franktown catchment.
Figure 21 Headwater feature vegetation types in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.6 Headwater Feature Riparian Vegetation
Headwater riparian vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found along the adjacent lands of a headwater drainage feature. The type of vegetation within the riparian corridor influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides to the watershed. Figure 22 depicts the type of riparian vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Franktown catchment.
Figure 22 Headwater feature riparian vegetation types in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.7 Headwater Feature Sediment Deposition
Assessing the amount of recent sediment deposited in a channel provides an index of the degree to which the feature could be transporting sediment to downstream reaches (OSAP, 2013). Evidence of excessive sediment deposition might indicate the requirement to follow up with more detailed targeted assessments upstream of the site location to identify potential best management practices to be implemented. Sediment deposition ranged from none to extensive for the headwater sites sampled in the Jock River Franktown catchment area. Figure 23 depicts the degree of sediment deposition observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Franktown catchment.
Figure 23 Headwater feature sediment deposition in the Jock River Franktown catchment
3.2.8 Headwater Feature Upstream Roughness
Feature roughness will provide a measure of the amount of materials within the bankfull channel that could slow down the velocity of water flowing within the headwater feature (OSAP, 2013). Materials on the channel bottom that provide roughness include vegetation, woody debris and boulders/cobble substrates. Roughness can provide benefits in mitigating downstream erosion on the headwater drainage feature and the receiving watercourse by reducing velocities. Roughness also provides important habitat conditions for aquatic organisms. Figure 24 shows the feature roughness conditions at the sampling locations in the Jock River Franktown catchment.
Figure 24 Headwater feature roughness in the Jock River Franktown catchment
4.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Land Cover
Land cover and any change in coverage that has occurred over a six year period is summarized for the Franktown catchment using spatially continuous vector data representing the catchment during the spring of 2008 and 2014. This dataset was developed by the RVCA through heads-up digitization of 20cm DRAPE ortho-imagery at a 1:4000 scale and details the surrounding landscape using 10 land cover classes.
4.1 Franktown Catchment Change
As shown in Table 2, the dominant land cover type in 2014 was wetland followed by woodland and crop and pastureland.
Land cover (2008 vs. 2014) in the Franktown catchment
* Does not include treed swamps ** Includes treed swamps
From 2008 to 2014, there was an overall change of 33 hectares (from one land cover class to another). Most of the change in the Franktown catchment is a result of the conversion of crop and pastureland, meadow-thicket and woodland to settlement along with former aggregate extraction sites becoming open waterbodies (Figure 25).
Figure 25 Dominant land cover change in the Franktown catchment (2014)
Table 3 provides a detailed breakdown of all land cover change that has taken place in the Franktown catchment between 2008 and 2014.
Land cover change in the Franktown catchment (2008 to 2014)
4.2 Woodland Cover
In the Environment Canada Guideline (Third Edition) entitled “How Much Habitat Is Enough?” (hereafter referred to as the “Guideline”) the opening narrative under the Forest Habitat Guidelines section states that prior to European settlement, forest was the predominant habitat in the Mixedwood Plains ecozone. The remnants of this once vast forest now exist in a fragmented state in many areas (including the Rideau Valley watershed) with woodland patches of various sizes distributed across the settled landscape along with higher levels of forest cover associated with features such as the Frontenac Axis (within the on-Shield areas of the Rideau Lakes and Tay River subwatersheds). The forest legacy, in terms of the many types of wildlife species found, overall species richness, ecological functions provided and ecosystem complexity is still evident in the patches and regional forest matrices (found in the Jock River subwatershed and elsewhere in the Rideau Valley watershed). These ecological features are in addition to other influences which forests have on water quality and stream hydrology including reducing soil erosion, producing oxygen, storing carbon along with many other ecological services that are essential not only for wildlife but for human well-being.
The Guideline also notes that forests provide a great many habitat niches that are in turn occupied by a great diversity of plant and animal species. They provide food, water and shelter for these species - whether they are breeding and resident locally or using forest cover to help them move across the landscape. This diversity of species includes many that are considered to be species at risk. Furthermore, from a wildlife perspective, there is increasing evidence that the total forest cover in a given area is a major predictor of the persistence and size of bird populations, and it is possible or perhaps likely that this pattern extends to other flora and fauna groups. The overall effect of a decrease in forest cover on birds in fragmented landscapes is that certain species disappear and many of the remaining ones become rare, or fail to reproduce, while species adapted to more open and successional habitats, as well as those that are more tolerant to human-induced disturbances in general, are able to persist and in some cases thrive. Species with specialized-habitat requirements are most likely to be adversely affected. The overall pattern of distribution of forest cover, the shape, area and juxtaposition of remaining forest patches and the quality of forest cover also play major roles in determining how valuable forests will be to wildlife and people alike.
The current science generally supports minimum forest habitat requirements between 30 and 50 percent, with some limited evidence that the upper limit may be even higher, depending on the organism/species phenomenon under investigation or land-use/resource management planning regime being considered/used.
As shown in Figure 26, 29 percent of the Franktown catchment contains 1988 hectares of upland forest and 288 hectares of lowland forest (treed swamps) versus the 26 percent of woodland cover in the Jock River subwatershed. This is below the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold required to sustain forest birds according to the Guideline and which may only support less than one half of potential species richness and marginally healthy aquatic systems. When forest cover drops below 30 percent, forest birds tend to disappear as breeders across the landscape.
Figure 26 Woodland cover and forest interior (2014)
4.2.1 Woodland (Patch) Size
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Reference Manual (Second Edition), larger woodlands are more likely to contain a greater diversity of plant and animal species and communities than smaller woodlands and have a greater relative importance for mobile animal species such as forest birds.
Bigger forests often provide a different type of habitat. Many forest birds breed far more successfully in larger forests than they do in smaller woodlots and some rely heavily on forest interior conditions. Populations are often healthier in regions with more forest cover and where forest fragments are grouped closely together or connected by corridors of natural habitat. Small forests support small numbers of wildlife. Some species are “area-sensitive” and tend not to inhabit small woodlands, regardless of forest interior conditions. Fragmented habitat also isolates local populations, especially small mammals, amphibians and reptiles with limited mobility. This reduces the healthy mixing of genetic traits that helps populations survive over the long run (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).
The Environment Canada Guideline also notes that for forest plants that do not disperse broadly or quickly, preservation of some relatively undisturbed large forest patches is needed to sustain them because of their restricted dispersal abilities and specialized habitat requirements and to ensure continued seed or propagation sources for restored or regenerating areas nearby.
The Natural Heritage Reference Manual continues by stating that a larger size also allows woodlands to support more resilient nutrient cycles and food webs and to be big enough to permit different and important successional stages to co-exist. Small, isolated woodlands are more susceptible to the effects of blowdown, drought, disease, insect infestations, and invasions by predators and non-indigenous plants. It is also known that the viability of woodland wildlife depends not only on the characteristics of the woodland in which they reside, but also on the characteristics of the surrounding landscape where the woodland is situated. Additionally, the percentage of forest cover in the surrounding landscape, the presence of ecological barriers such as roads, the ability of various species to cross the matrix surrounding the woodland and the proximity of adjacent habitats interact with woodland size in influencing the species assemblage within a woodland.
In the Franktown catchment (in 2014), one hundred and seventeen (44 percent) of the 268 woodland patches are very small, being less than one hectare in size. Another 123 (46 percent) of the woodland patches ranging from one to less than 20 hectares in size tend to be dominated by edge-tolerant bird species. The remaining 28 (10 percent of) woodland patches range between 20 and 271 hectares in size. Twenty-three of these patches contain woodland between 20 and 100 hectares and may support a few area-sensitive species and some edge intolerant species, but will be dominated by edge tolerant species.
Conversely, five (two percent) of the 268 woodland patches in the drainage area exceed the 100 plus hectare size needed to support most forest dependent, area sensitive birds and are large enough to support approximately 60 percent of edge-intolerant species. One patch tops 200 hectares, which according to the Environment Canada Guideline will support 80 percent of edge-intolerant forest bird species (including most area sensitive species) that prefer interior forest habitat conditions.
Table 4 presents a comparison of woodland patch size in 2008 and 2014 along with any changes that have occurred over that time. A decrease (of 12 ha) has been observed in the overall woodland patch area between the two reporting periods with most change occurring in the 20 to 50 hectare woodland patch size class range.
Woodland patches in the Franktown catchment (2008 and 2014)
*Includes treed swamps
4.2.2 Woodland (Forest) Interior Habitat
The forest interior is habitat deep within woodlands. It is a sheltered, secluded environment away from the influence of forest edges and open habitats. Some people call it the “core” or the “heart” of a woodland. The presence of forest interior is a good sign of woodland health, and is directly related to the woodland’s size and shape. Large woodlands with round or square outlines have the greatest amount of forest interior. Small, narrow woodlands may have no forest interior conditions at all. Forest interior habitat is a remnant natural environment, reminiscent of the extensive, continuous forests of the past. This increasingly rare forest habitat is now a refuge for certain forest-dependent wildlife; they simply must have it to survive and thrive in a fragmented forest landscape (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).
The Natural Heritage Reference Manual states that woodland interior habitat is usually defined as habitat more than 100 metres from the edge of the woodland and provides for relative seclusion from outside influences along with a moister, more sheltered and productive forest habitat for certain area sensitive species. Woodlands with interior habitat have centres that are more clearly buffered against the edge effects of agricultural activities or more harmful urban activities than those without.
In the Franktown catchment (in 2014), the 268 woodland patches contain 78 forest interior patches (Figure 26) that occupy three percent (228 ha.) of the catchment land area (which is equivalent to the three percent of interior forest in the Jock River Subwatershed). This is below the ten percent figure referred to in the Environment Canada Guideline that is considered to be the minimum threshold for supporting edge intolerant bird species and other forest dwelling species in the landscape.
Most patches (71) have less than 10 hectares of interior forest, 49 of which have small areas of interior forest habitat less than one hectare in size. The remaining seven patches contain interior forest between 11 and 32 hectares in area. Between 2008 and 2014, there has been a large change in the number of woodland patches containing smaller areas (below 10 hectares) of interior habitat with an overall loss of two hectares in the catchment (Table 5), suggesting an increase in forest fragmentation over the six year period.
Woodland interior in the Franktown catchment (2008 and 2014)
4.3 Wetland Cover
Wetlands are habitats forming the interface between aquatic and terrestrial systems. They are among the most productive and biologically diverse habitats on the planet. By the 1980s, according to the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, 68 percent of the original wetlands south of the Precambrian Shield in Ontario had been lost through encroachment, land clearance, drainage and filling.
Wetlands perform a number of important ecological and hydrological functions and provide an array of social and economic benefits that society values. Maintaining wetland cover in a watershed provides many ecological, economic, hydrological and social benefits that are listed in the Reference Manual and which may include:
- contributing to the stabilization of shorelines and to the reduction of erosion damage through the mitigation of water flow and soil binding by plant roots
- mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow also contributes to a reduction of flood damage)
- contributing to an improved water quality through the trapping of sediments, the removal and/or retention of excess nutrients, the immobilization and/or degradation of contaminants and the removal of bacteria
- providing renewable harvesting of timber, fuel wood, fish, wildlife and wild rice
- contributing to a stable, long-term water supply in areas of groundwater recharge and discharge
- providing a high diversity of habitats that support a wide variety of plants and animals
- acting as “carbon sinks” making a significant contribution to carbon storage
- providing opportunities for recreation, education, research and tourism
Historically, the overall wetland coverage within the Great Lakes basin exceeded 10 percent, but there was significant variability among watersheds and jurisdictions, as stated in the Environment Canada Guideline. In the Rideau Valley Watershed, it has been estimated that pre-settlement wetland cover averaged 35 percent using information provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada (2010) versus the 21 percent of wetland cover existing in 2014 derived from DRAPE imagery analysis.
Using the same dataset, it is estimated that pre-settlement (historic) wetland cover averaged 51 percent in the Jock River subwatershed versus the 24 percent of cover existing in 2014 (as summarized in Table 6).
Wetland cover in the Jock River subwatershed and Franktown catchment (Historic to 2014)
This decline in wetland cover is also evident in the Franktown catchment (as seen in Figure 27) where wetland was reported to cover 59 percent of the area prior to settlement, as compared to 48 percent in 2014. This represents a 19 percent loss of historic wetland cover. To maintain critical hydrological, ecological functions along with related recreational and economic benefits provided by these wetland habitats in the catchment, a “no net loss” of currently existing wetlands should be employed to ensure the continued provision of tangible benefits accruing from them to landowners and surrounding communities.
Figure 27 Franktown catchment wetland cover
4.4 Shoreline Cover
The riparian or shoreline zone is that special area where the land meets the water. Well-vegetated shorelines are critically important in protecting water quality and creating healthy aquatic habitats, lakes and rivers. Natural shorelines intercept sediments and contaminants that could impact water quality conditions and harm fish habitat in streams. Well established buffers protect the banks against erosion, improve habitat for fish by shading and cooling the water and provide protection for birds and other wildlife that feed and rear young near water. A recommended target (from the Environment Canada Guideline) is to maintain a minimum 30 metre wide vegetated buffer along at least 75 percent of the length of both sides of rivers, creeks and streams.
Figure 28 shows the extent of the ‘Natural’ vegetated riparian zone (predominantly wetland/woodland features) and ‘Other’ anthropogenic cover (crop/pastureland, roads/railways, settlements) along a 30-metre-wide area of land, both sides of the shoreline of the Jock River and its tributaries in the Franktown catchment.
Figure 28 Natural and other riparian land cover in the Franktown catchment
This analysis shows that the riparian zone in the Franktown catchment in 2014 was comprised of wetland (81 percent), woodland (six percent), crop and pastureland (six percent), transportation (four percent), settlement (one percent), aggregate (one percent) and meadow-thicket (less than one percent). Additional statistics for the Franktown catchment are presented in Table 7 and show that there has been no change in shoreline cover from 2008 to 2014.
Riparian land cover (2008 vs. 2014) in the Franktown Creek catchment
5.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Stewardship and Water Resources Protection
The RVCA and its partners are working to protect and enhance environmental conditions in the Jock River Subwatershed. Figure 29 shows the location of all stewardship projects completed in the Jock River-Franktown catchment along with sites identified for potential shoreline restoration.
5.1 Rural Clean Water Projects
From 2010 to 2015, one septic system repair was completed. Between 2004 and 2009, one well upgrade and one livestock fencing project were finished and prior to 2004, one well upgrade and one fuel storage and handling facility were completed. One of these projects was completed within the 30 metre riparian zone of the Jock River. Total value of all five projects is $9,234 with $6,071 of that amount funded through grant dollars from the RVCA.
Figure 29 Stewardship site locations
5.2 Private Land Forestry Projects
The location of RVCA tree planting projects is shown in Figure 29. From 2010 to 2015, 2,000 trees were planted at one site. Between 2004 and 2009, 2,200 trees were planted at two sites and prior to 2004, 64,710 trees were planted at 3 sites. In total, 68,910 trees were planted resulting in the reforestation of 34 hectares. Total project value of all six projects is $171,765 with $40,033 of that amount coming from fundraising sources.
5.3 Valley, Stream, Wetland and Hazard Lands
The Franktown catchment covers 79 square kilometres with 30.9 square kilometres (or 39 percent) of the drainage area being within the regulation limit of Ontario Regulation 174/06 (Figure 30), giving protection to wetland areas and river or stream valleys that are affected by flooding and erosion hazards.
Wetlands occupy 38 sq. km. (or 48 percent) of the catchment. Of these wetlands, 22.5 sq. km (or 59 percent) are designated as provincially significant and included within the RVCA regulation limit. This leaves the remaining 15.5 sq. km (or 41 percent) of wetlands in the catchment outside the regulated area limit.
Of the 88 kilometres of stream in the catchment, regulation limit mapping has been plotted along 50.2 kilometers of streams (representing 57 percent of all streams in the catchment). Some of these regulated watercourses (42.2 km or 48 percent of all streams) flow through regulated wetlands; the remaining 7.9 km (or 16 percent) of regulated streams are located outside of those wetlands. Plotting of the regulation limit on the remaining 37.8 km (or 43 percent) of streams requires identification of flood and erosion hazards and valley systems.
Within those areas of the Franktown catchment subject to the regulation (limit), efforts (have been made and) continue through RVCA planning and regulations input and review to manage the impact of development (and other land management practices) in areas where “natural hazards” are associated with rivers, streams, valley lands and wetlands. For areas beyond the regulation limit, protection of the catchment’s watercourses is only provided through the “alteration to waterways” provision of the regulation.
Figure 30 RVCA regulation limits
5.4 Vulnerable Drinking Water Areas
The Jock River-Franktown drainage catchment is considered to have a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. This means that the nature of the overburden (thin soils, fractured bedrock) does not provide a high level of protection for the underlying groundwater making the aquifer more vulnerable to contaminants released on the surface. The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan includes policies that focus on the protection of groundwater region-wide due to the fact that most of the region, which encompasses the Mississippi and Rideau watersheds, is considered Highly Vulnerable Aquifer.
For detailed maps and policies that have been developed to protect drinking water sources, please go to the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region website at www.mrsourcewater.ca to view the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan.
6.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Challenges/Issues
No surface chemistry and benthic invertebrate water quality data is available for the Jock River in the catchment
Natural hazard lands have not been identified; however, it is deemed to be a low priority
Existing hydrological and geochemical datasets and assessments (academic, RVCA, others) are only recently available and/or are not being considered in the characterization of the numerous hydrologic functions of the Jock River subwatershed. Further, there is a dearth of hydrologic information (hydroperiod, groundwater/surface water interactions, geochemistry) about the wetlands that remain in the Jock River subwatershed
No information available about instream aquatic and riparian conditions along the Jock River in the catchment
Woodlands cover 29 percent of the catchment and is less than the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold for sustaining forest birds and other woodland dependent species (Figure 26)
Pre-settlement wetlands have declined by 19 percent and now cover 48 percent (3798 ha.) of the catchment (Figure 27). Forty-one percent (1556 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated/unregulated and are vulnerable to drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community
7.0 Jock River-Franktown Catchment: Opportunities/Actions
Landowners should consider taking advantage of the Rural Clean Water Programs which offer grants to landowners interested in implementing projects on their property that will help to protect and improve water quality:
- Homeowners may be interested in projects to repair, replace or upgrade their well or septic system, or addressing erosion through buffer plantings and erosion control
- Farmers can take advantage of a wide range of projects, including livestock fencing, manure storage, tile drainage control structures, cover crops, and many more
List, share and when possible, synthesize and use existing hydrological and geochemical datasets and assessment outcomes to facilitate the characterization of subwatershed and catchment hydrological functions. In addition, prepare guidance on best practices for the preparation of water budget assessments to better understand the hydrologic cycle requirements that occur at site specific scales; and share existing catchment and subwatershed scale water budget assessment outcomes
Promote the Rideau Valley Shoreline Naturalization Program to landowners to increase existing shoreline cover
Educate landowners about the value of and best management practices used to maintain and enhance natural shorelines and headwater drainage features
Work with approval authorities (Townships of Beckwith and Montague) to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for water quality and shoreline protection (i.e., adherence to a minimum 30 metre development setback from water) adjacent to the Jock River and other catchment streams
Promote the RVCA’s Trees for Tomorrow Program to landowners to increase existing 29 percent of woodland cover
Encourage the Townships of Beckwith and Montague to strengthen natural heritage policies in official plans and zoning by-laws where shoreline, wetland, woodland cover and watercourse setbacks are determined to be at or below critical ecological thresholds. Information for this purpose is provided in the RVCA’s subwatershed and catchment reports
Explore ways and means to more effectively enforce and implement conditions of land-use planning and development approvals to achieve net environmental gains
Re-consider the RVCA’s approach to wetland regulation where there is an identified hydrologic imperative to do so (i.e., significant loss of historic wetland cover (see Figure 27) and/or seasonal, critically low baseflows in the Jock River and/or areas of seasonal flooding)
Full Catchment Report