HALIFAX: The province is using agricultural lime to reduce the effects of acid rain and support restoration of trout and wild Atlantic salmon habitat in the West River near Sheet Harbour and the St. Mary’s River watershed in Guysborough County.
This is the first time the St. Mary’s River watershed has been treated with lime.
The province noted that acid rain in Nova Scotia harms fish habitat important to sportfishing, which is valued at about $65 million annually to the provincial economy.
Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Keith Colwell said this multi-year project will also help the environment, as well as forestry in those areas.
The province said lime is a natural mineral that reduces acidity in soil and water. Dropped by helicopter onto forested land, a provincial press release said the lime works into the soil and eventually seeps into rivers. Eighty hectares will be treated this month.
The Departments of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Lands and Forestry are carrying out the liming in partnership with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Perennia Food and Agriculure Inc., and Dalhousie University. The project began in 2016.
“Data suggests that this helicopter liming project effectively repairs the damaging effects of acid rain on forests, soils, streams and fish,” Edmund Halfyard, research scientist, Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc. explained. “It also demonstrates that multiple partners working together can contribute to a healthier Nova Scotia environment and renewable economy.”
The Nova Scotia Salmon Association has been adding lime to the West River near Sheet Harbour since 2005. The Nova Scotia Sportfish Habitat Fund contributed $35,000 in 2020 to support liming efforts on the West River near Sheet Harbour.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has provided $25,000 this year to the Nova Scotia Salmon Association to support the helicopter liming project, part of $250,000 they provided this year for the broader acid rain mitigation program in Nova Scotia.
More than 263 hectares (650 acres) of land in the province has been treated with more than 2,600 tonnes of agricultural lime to date. By 2023, 575 hectares will have been treated with lime.