Students with the Strait Area campus of the Nova Scotia Community College worked on a Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation Adopt A Stream project in West Bay last summer.

HALIFAX: Two streams near the southwest corner of Bras d’Or Lake were the classroom for a couple of days last summer for 20 Nova Scotia Community College students from the Strait Area Campus in Port Hawkesbury.

They were working on a project to improve fish passage to 11 kilometers of habitat in West Bay as part of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s (NSLC) Adopt A Stream program.

“We’d like to thank NSLC Adopt A Stream for the opportunity to give our students real-life experience in the field,” said their professor Waddie Long, who teaches the two year Natural Resources Environmental Technology program at the college campus.

The Adopt A Stream project in West Bay last summer improved fish passage to 11 kilometers of fish habitat.

Long said he’s grateful to the NSLC for having the insight to support this community-based watershed stewardship program. Offered by the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, the program provides funding and technical support to help community volunteer organizations carry out projects that protect, repair and improve the environment in and around local wetlands, lakes, streams, rivers, and estuaries.

The Adopt A Stream Program resulted in 23 community-led habitat improvement projects over this summer from Cape Breton to Annapolis Royal.

Program manager Amy Weston, of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, said Adopt A Stream brings together professional habitat biologists and volunteers to rehabilitate aquatic habitats for fish and wildlife.

“It’s a vitally important program that counts on the support of the NSLC and the province’s many volunteer community and recreational fishing groups to make it work. These are the people who really see what’s happening in their local waterways and want to make a difference.”

The Adopt A Stream project in West Bay last summer installed low-flow barriers and chutes on MacPhees Brook and Red Brook.

In West Bay, the students installed baffles, low-flow barriers and chutes on MacPhees Brook and Red Brook. They carried out the work under the supervision of Long and NSLC Adopt A Stream Habitat Technician Will Daniels of the Nova Scotia Salmon Association.

Their efforts deepened the water and reduced the water velocity in the culverts to enable the passage of fish such as trout, smelt and salmon.

“We saw two fish go up before we even left the site which was really rewarding for the students,” said Long, who praised the program for providing students with valuable practical experience.

More than 4,500 dedicated volunteers have helped re-establish almost 400 kilometers of fish passage since Adopt A Stream began in 1998. The NSLC has given the program $700,000 since it became title sponsor in 2010. To date, it has resulted in the restoration of more than two million square meters of aquatic habitat and the planting of 200,900 trees along riverbanks.