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The Orillia Fish And Game Conservation Club

Stream Improvement Program

As part of our ongoing commitment to conservation, the Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club(OFGCC) works in partnership with landowners and the MNR in a process called stream improvement, sometimes called stream enhancement or stream rehabilitation.
As seasons change, natural and man-made debris collect in the rivers and streams to produce a damming effect. Branches, fallen trees and other debris that are carried downstream in times of high water levels from heavy rains, storm surges and spring run off are often the cause. These blockages impede the natural river flow, making it difficult for migrating fish, such as rainbow trout, to navigate the rivers and streams to reach their natural spawning beds. This problem is compounded by the areas upstream of these dams becoming flooded above their normal high water elevations, causing additional erosion. As silt and other debris is washed into the watershed, it settles downstream of the dammed area, covering the natural gravel of the stream bed, on which the trout need to lay their eggs.
When this occurs, the Club’s stream improvement committee contacts the land owner and obtains permission to access the property and to rehabilitate the stream. Next, the OFGCC’s stream improvement committee contacts the MNR and together they form a plan for rehabilitation. The work begins with the Club’s stream improvement committee calling a work party to go to the river or stream and carry out the MNR sanctioned rehabilitation plan. This may include removal of all or part of the dammed up area, shoring up of the banks of the stream and removal of debris. Once completed, this will allow the river or stream to return to its natural flow and allow migrating fish better access to the previously restricted areas. The increased water flow will, in turn, wash away the silt covering the gravel in the river beds, providing these fish a place to spawn. As part of the rehabilitation plan, this work is done between spawning runs which take place in the early spring and fall.
OFGCC members take great pride in returning to sites which has been worked upon to observe the trout spawning successfully in an area which had been difficult or impossible for them to access the previous year.
The Club has carried out stream improvement work on the Coulson branch of the Coldwater River and on sections of Silver Creek in Severn Township. It has been said that stream rehabilitation is the essence of conservation. In this regard, the Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club is very proud of its active participation these ventures.