Stream Stewardship Projects

The Community Stream Steward Program works alongside landowners, communities, youth, volunteers and other stewardship organizations to identify, plan and implement a wide variety of stream restoration projects and activities. If you are a Landowner who is interested in getting help with a stream project, please visit our landowner page for more information.

Big or small, each and every project plays an important role in protecting and preserving Ontario’s water resources, and the fish and wildlife dependent on these habitats for survival. Listed below are some of the different types of projects that can benefit the overall health of a stream. If you are interested in learning more about any of these restoration activities or think your property could benefit from any of these techniques please Contact Us free advice, technical assistance, and potential funding support.

Types of Projects

Bank Stabilization Stream Crossings for Livestock and Farm Equipment
Riparian Tree and Shrub Planting Livestock Fencing and Alternate Watering
Fish Habitat Enhancement Online Pond Decommissioning

To learn more about the different types of projects we do, please visit our Project Profiles page.

Bank Stabilization Projects
Streams naturally undergo erosion at the outside bank of a meander, or bend, in the stream; however, sites where erosion is occurring at a faster than normal rate may be good candidates for stream bank stabilization projects. Erosion of stream banks puts the downstream habitat at risk because the fine sediments that have been eroded are deposited on the bed and banks of the channel and they can cover larger particles such as gravel and rocks that are important fish habitat. Serious erosion problems can also be a safety concern for landowners.

Depending on the characteristics of a site, there are several different types of stabilization techniques that could be used to help prevent further erosion. These include using soft techniques that involve native plant material, such as live stakes, brush layers and live cribwalls, or hard techniques that use rock and other man-made materials.

Click here to see examples of bank stabilizations.

Riparian Native Tree and Shrub Planting

The land on either side of a stream is called the riparian zone, and it can have direct effects on the health of a stream. Vegetation along the edge of a stream helps shade the watercourse, keeping water tempertures low in hot summer months. Stream side vegetation also acts as a buffer for overland runoff, trapping fine sediments and excess nutrients before they can make their way into the water. The roots of woody vegetation help provide bank stability and can lower rates of stream bank erosion. Planting native trees and shrubs along the riparian zone will help improve the overall health of a watercourse and even benefit local wildlife as well.


Fish Habitat Enhancement

All fish species have unique habitat requirements and unfortunately in many areas human activities have altered or impacted the stream streams fish rely on. A stream with excellent fish habitat would naturally meander over the landscape, with well defined sections of riffles and pools, have undercut, yet stable banks, healthy riparian vegetation, woody debris in the stream channel and have various types of stream bed materials.

There are many techniques that can be used to enhance fish habitat. Simple solutions include placing boulders or large woody debris in-stream to increase the amount of cover present. Boulders and artificial riffles can also create turbulence in the flow, exposing spawning beds and oxygenating the water. More complex solutions include the construction of structures such as lunkers, half log covers or brush bundles.
The creation of in-stream habitat greatly benefits the fish found in our streams, however it is important to speak with a professional before attempting any work in water, as it is possible to further damage fish habitat rather than enhance it and permits are always required for this type of work.
Stream Crossings for Livestock and Farm Equipment
When streams run through agricultural lands there is often a conflict between maximizing land use and protecting stream health. Stream crossings are often necessary to allow livestock and/or farm equipment access to fields that are divided by a waterway. Specially designed crossings ensure that any negative impacts to the stream are minimized each time a stream is traversed.
The type of crossing used in each situation should be chosen with the site features and intended use in mind. Where a stream is wide, experiences excessive flooding or heavy ice flows a bridge crossing may be the best solution. For streams that are narrower, but crossing frequency is high, a mid-level culvert crossing may be the best option. Bed-level crossings are suitable for streams not crossed often, or are too wide for a culvert. The final type of crossing is a natural crossing and should only be used for low-density grazing systems with naturally occurring coarse stream bed material.
Fencing for Livestock Exclusion and Alternate Watering Systems
Keeping farm animals out of a waterway will benefit both the stream and the livestock in many ways. When livestock have access to a stream, banks become trampled, causing increased bank erosion and sedimentation in the stream channel. Water quality is also threatened with excess nutrient and bacteria concentrations and riparian vegetation is often trampled or eaten.
The installation of livestock exclusion fencing, and if necessary, an alternate watering system, can help improve stream health. Alternative watering sources provide livestock with fresh, clean drinking water without damaging stream health. A variety of systems are available to suit your needs.
Online Pond Decommissioning
Ponds are an important habitat feature for many species of wildlife in Ontario. However when a pond is located in the path of a coldwater stream (known as ‘online ‘) it can be detrimental to stream health. When a stream flows through an online pond, water temperatures generally increaseas the flow slows and circulates through the pond. This warmer water then affects the temperture and condition of the downstream ecosystem. If temperatures increase too much, some fish species may no longer be able survive in the stream. Creating a bypass channel around an existing pond will potentially help keep stream tempertures low while still maintaining a pond system.