Habitat Enhancement & Restoration


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You have selected this document because your project involves Habitat Enhancement and Restoration in or about a stream. Habitat enhancement and restoration works include any works in or about a watercourse designed to restore or increase the productive capacity of aquatic or riparian habitat. Works addressed in this Guidebook section include:

  • fish habitat restoration or maintenance;
  • stream channel restoration or maintenance;
  • stream channel clean-up; and/or,
  • public beach maintenance.
When planning your project, develop designs and select locations to minimize potential impacts to fish and fish habitat. If your works are outside the scope of this Guidebook then a MOE Approval application must be completed and DFO contacted to determine if a review and/or Authorization under the Fisheries Act is appropriate.

How to proceed with your Habitant Enhancement and Restoration Project

The following steps will help guide you through the provincial and federal Notification, Approval and/or Authorization process for Habitant Enhancement and Restoration works:

Does your project involve Habitant Enhancement and Restoration in or about a stream?
Proceed to Introduction to reselect project appropriate activity
or
Contact your local MOE and/or DFO representative for assistance.
Have you considered all applicable Legislation, Regulations and Policies?
Proceed to Introduction for further details on Legislation, Regulations, Policies, Avoidance of HADD under the Fisheries Act and applicable Region Operational Statement(s)
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Proceed to BMP Section of this document and apply relevant BMPs and Conditions to help your project adhere to the required Standards and Conditions.
Apply for DFO Authorization and No MOE Notification Required

Best Management Practices

The following Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods, that if followed, will help ensure your project minimizes potential impacts to fish and fish habitat and will provide a standard level of protection to the aquatic and terrestrial environment potentially affected by your project.

It is the responsibility of the proponent/developer to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable legislation. There are three (3) types of BMPs you should consider:

  1. General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations applicable to any project;
  2. Habitat Enhancement and Restoration specific BMPs (below); and,
  3. Supportive information applicable to project design, implementation and Habitat Enhancement and Restoration techniques.

General Project BMPs and Standard Project Considerations

Please proceed to the General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations section to review considerations applicable to your project.

Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Specific BMPs

To achieve the required Standards and objectives that your activity must meet, apply the following BMPs as applicable to your works. To reduce impacts on fish and wildlife habitats and populations, your Habitat Enhancement and Restoration design and implementation should consider the following:

A. Fish Habitat Restoration or Maintenance

Design

HER01 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
HER02 design instream activities to coincide with low flow conditions, when eggs and alevins are not present in gravel and when there is the least risk to fish, wildlife populations and habitats (see Regional Timing Windows);
HER03 use a design created by an appropriately qualified professional and construct the works in accordance with that design;
HER04 limit impacts to the active floodplain to those changes required for site restoration or enhancement;
HER05 undertake habitat enhancement works only when such works can be conducted to meet all of the following criteria:
  • would not negatively impact existing fish habitat;
  • would not negatively impact stream hydrology and fish habitat upstream and downstream of the project (e.g. channel meander pattern);
  • if working near or in critical habitat areas would enhance or improve them;
  • any disturbances to riparian vegetation, active floodplains, ravines and instream habitat results in benefits to fish and wildlife habitats; and,
  • would not result in killing of fish.

Operational

HER06 minimize direct and indirect negative effects to other properties, roads, services or utilities;
HER07 use natural materials, such as live vegetation and, where required, natural acid free rock;
HER08 maintain existing wildlife access to the bank (e.g. ensure that proposed works do not form a barrier to wildlife movement);
HER09 operate machinery, if required, outside of the stream channel to avoid disturbance to the banks of the watercourse and Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish habitat;
HER10 retain existing instream and riparian vegetation and other features, including trees, bushes, shrubs, weeds or tall grasses along any stream bank, mats of floating vegetation, overhanging vegetation, natural large woody debris and large boulders;
HER11 maintain or improve the existing channel complexity by retaining or creating a diverse mix of instream structures and overhanging vegetation;
HER12 do not disturb stream banks that can expose underlying soils, cause silt to enter the stream or result in loss of fish habitat;
HER13 removal of material must not lead to stream channel instability or increase the risk of sedimentation into the watercourse;
HER14 remove spoil materials in a way that ensures sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse;

Post Works Mitigation

HER15 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of disturbed areas is achieved;

B. Stream Channel Restoration or Maintenance

Design

HER16 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
HER17 design instream activities to coincide with low flow conditions, when eggs and alevins are not present in gravel and when there is the least risk to fish, wildlife populations and habitats (see Regional Timing Windows);
HER18 during project design, consider whether removal of object(s) or material from the watercourse would cause more damage to fish and wildlife populations and habitats than would result if the object(s)/materials are left. If the object is large and is more than one-third buried in the stream substrates, its removal may result in a large amount of sediment being resuspended, discharged or may result in significant changes to in-channel habitats. Consult a Qualified Professional (QP) for changes to in-channel habitats;
HER19 address channel maintenance by considering development of long-term solutions to flood or debris flow risk to eliminate or reduce channel maintenance. Long-term solutions may include:
  • appropriately constructed and licensed instream sediment traps (requires additional Water Act Approval);
  • control or reduction of upstream sources of sediment;
  • increased drainage control structures in the watershed;
  • construction of off-line detention or retention facilities; and,
  • shade trees and shrubs planted to shade out instream vegetation.

Operational

HER20 remove material only needed to alleviate flood or debris flow risk;
HER21 retain existing instream and riparian vegetation and other features, including trees, bushes, shrubs, weeds or tall grasses along any stream bank; mats of floating vegetation; overhanging vegetation; natural large woody debris and large boulders;
HER22 maintain or improve the existing channel complexity by retaining or creating a diverse mix of instream structures and overhanging vegetation;
HER23 do not disturb stream banks that can expose underlying soils, cause silt to enter the stream or result in loss of fish habitat;
HER24 removal of material must not lead to channel instability or increase the risk of sedimentation into the watercourse;
HER25 remove spoil materials in a way that ensures sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse;

Post Works Mitigation

HER26 maintain effective erosion and sediment control measures until complete re-vegetation of the disturbed area is achieved;

C. Stream Channel Clean-up

Design

HER27 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to commencement of work;
HER28 design instream clean-up activities to coincide with low flow conditions, when eggs and alevins are not present in gravel and when there is the least risk to fish, wildlife populations and habitats (see Regional Timing Windows);
HER29 ensure landowners whose properties may be affected by clean-up activities are contacted prior to works;

Operational

HER30 avoid foul smelling areas, spills of unknown substances or containers of hazardous or unidentified materials;
HER31 contact emergency response agencies (MOE Environmental Emergency Management Plan incident reporting hotline 1-800-663-3456; DFO Observe, Record and Report hotline 1-800-465-4336) or municipal crews for removal of unknown substances or containers of hazardous or unidentified materials;
HER32 obtain permission from property owners before storing removed materials on their property;
HER33 ensure noctural materials (e.g. logs and boulders) and overhanging vegetation remain in the stream and only man-made material will be removed;
HER34 do not disturb stream banks that can expose underlying soils, cause silt to enter the stream or result in loss of fish habitat;
HER35 removal of material must not lead to stream channel instability or increase the risk of sedimentation into the watercourse;
HER36 restrict salvage activities to shallow areas and to areas well away from the watercourse mouth;
HER37 consult with the water purveyor prior to works if a community water intake is located near clean-up activities;

Post Works Mitigation

HER38 remove spoil materials to a location outside the riparian area that ensures sediment or debris does not enter the watercourse;

D. Public Beach Maintenance

Design

HER39 ensure General BMPs and Standard Project Considerations have been consulted and appropriately applied prior to, during and after commencement of work;
HER40 maintenance activities must adhere to Regional Timing Windows to prevent disruption of fish and wildlife habitat.

Operational

HER41 place new beach material on a flat, gently sloping area of the beach to prevent this material from entering the watercourse;
HER42 avoid placement of beach material in a manner that obstructs or concentrates runoff from adjacent upland areas to the watercourse;
HER43 ensure beach material is clean (i.e. free of debris, silt, organic material or other contaminants);
HER44 ensure beach material is not taken from below the high water mark (HWM) of any watercourse;
HER45 avoid machinery activity or placement of beach material in areas of known fish spawning habitat;
HER46 operate machinery, if required, on land above the high water mark (HWM) and in a manner that minimizes disturbance to the banks of the watercourse;
HER47 removal of dead aquatic vegetation that has washed onshore may occur by hand;

Post works mitigation

HER48 stabilize vegetative waste material above the high water mark (HWM) to prevent it from entering the watercourse; and,
HER49 restore banks to the original condition if any disturbance from machinery occurs.
Where to start?

If you are unfamiliar with Instream Works, please use the interactive Introductory flowchart to help guide you through the process.

Glossary

Important words, denoted by blue underlined text are defined in the glossary.

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More information...

See the Supportive Information section at the end of this document for links to other websites and documents.