UPPER SYDNEY RIVER
(Blackettís Lake, Howie Centre, Coxheath, Dutch Brook or Portage area)
The Upper Sydney River and its main tributary, the Meadows Brook, form an important Ecosystem that includes loons, bald eagles, fish, plants, as well as a rare species of freshwater mussel known as the Yellow Lampmussel. Almost 2000 human residences also exist within the land area that drains into the upper Sydney River. If you reside in the Blackettís Lake, Howie Centre, Coxheath, Dutch Brook, or Portage, yours is one of them! And your daily activities impact the functioning of the Riverís Ecosystem and its inhabitants.†
You can reduce the impact you have on the River by modifying a few of your activities. This handbook will provide you with tips on how to do this. It will also provide you with information about the Sydney River Ecosystem and the rare species of freshwater mussel that lives there.† Please do your part to help keep the Upper Sydney River healthy for everyone and everything that relies upon it.
The Upper Sydney Riverís
The Upper Sydney River is one of only two rivers in all of Canada to contain the rare Yellow Lampmussel. Because of this the mussel has been listed as a species of ďspecial concernĒ by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
Why is the Yellow Lampmussel important?
The Yellow Lampmussel doesnít have a glamorous public image like whales or tigers, yet the more we learn about it the more remarkable it seems.† Yellow Lampmussels are an integral part of the Sydney River ecosystem, playing an important role in nutrient cycling and serving as a food source for other animals. Their demise would undoubtedly affect countless numbers of more visible organisms.
A Fascinating Creature
One of the things that make these animals fascinating is the dark rings that form on their shell each year of their life (similar to trees). By counting these rings we have determined that Yellow Lampmussel is among the longest living animals in the Sydney River (at least 25 years!).† Yellow Lampmussel also have an interesting means of reproduction. They require a fish host (White Perch) to complete their development and aid in disbursement of their young. Females attract their fish hosts using a minnow shaped lure that they poke out of the top of their shell.††
Susceptible to Pollution
Yellow Lampmussel are particularly vulnerable to pollution and habitat destruction.† It is estimated that the Sydney river mussels filter as much as 40 million gallons of water per day and they are very sensitive to contaminants occurring within that water. Silt, pesticides and sewage from improperly maintained septic systems are of particular concern for this rare species of mussel.
Seven Simple Steps
to Maintain a Natural and Healthy
∑ Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides or herbicides on your property. Pesticides are toxic chemicals which contribute to the amount of contaminants in our soil and in the Sydney River. Try and use natural alternatives instead.
∑ Have your septic tank inspected and pumped in order to keep your system functional. If your system is not working properly, human waste can seep into our groundwater, our wells and our waterways, including the Sydney River!
∑ Do not use toxic chemicals on your plumbing. Some products to avoid are bleach cleaners, toilet inserts, or drain cleaners. A septic system relies on living bacteria in order to process waste; toxic chemicals kill these vital bacteria and can cause your septic tank to malfunction.
∑ Avoid spilling oil, paint or paint thinner, fuel, antifreeze or other chemicals on your land or down your drain. If there is an accidental spill, clean it up quickly!
∑ Plant native trees or shrubs. Their roots will help prevent soil erosion of your property and buffer pollutants before they reach the Upper Sydney River.
∑ Leave the clippings on your lawn after you mow: You will save time and the burden of picking up your clippings, while reducing the need for fertilizer, since clippings are a natural and cost-free fertilizer.
∑ Reduce or eliminate the watering of your lawn: You will conserve limited drinking water and protect the Riverís water quality.
How You Can be Involved
Habitat and shoreline stewardship embraces the concept of the land as a resource and recognizes that, as residents, we are responsible for the proper management and use of the land.
The Upper Sydney River Watershed
If you have a residence between Causeway Drive and Portage, you live within the Upper Sydney River watershed area. The land within this area forms a drainage basin with all of the water draining off it eventually ending up in the Sydney River. This drainage water potentially washes pesticides, sewage and silt into the Sydney River impacting drinking water quality and the habitat of the Yellow Lampmussel.
Please partner with us to reduce the impact residents have on the Upper Sydney River Valley area. Working together, we can help keep this important natural area healthy and happy for all residents who rely upon it for life.† For more information please contact ACAP at 567-1628.
Click on any of the following links to learn more:
Sydney River is one of the few places in all of North America to contain the rare Yellow Lampmussel
An integral part of the Sydney River ecosystem
Provides food for many types of fish and mammals
These living filters help to clean our water bodies
Extremely useful bio-indicators of water quality and eco-system health
Particularly vulnerable to pollution and habitat destruction
Their demise would undoubtedly affect a countless number of other organisms