Media Release - For Immediate Release
Restoring a Wetland
10 September, 2012
|Saint Mary’s students Christa Skinner, Amy Lawrence and Michelle Whidden spent the summer remediating wetlands across the province|
When restoring a wetland, you never know what you might come across.
Some days, it could be a Great Blue Heron in mid-flight, gliding just above the water’s surface, or a mother Black Duck leading her young out on a first swim through the reeds. On other days, however, it could just be a sink hole.
“Sometimes you don’t realize what kind of environment you’re going to walk into,” says Christa Skinner, a Saint Mary’s fourth-year Environmental Science major. “And then all of a sudden you’re up to your knees in mud—or your waist, like I was earlier this summer!”
From May to August, Christa and her two fellow co-op students—third-year Biology major Amy Lawrence and fourth-year Environmental Science major Michelle Whidden—worked at CB Wetlands & Environmental Specialists (CBWES Inc.), a company that restores and enhances wetlands. Owners Nancy Neatt and Tony Bowron used an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award to fund Michelle’s employment.
“I find restoration so fascinating because wetlands can change, but you can get it back to what it was before,” says Lawrence. “Being out there, doing fish and plant surveys and other restoration work, was completely different from my course work, which was awesome and just a great new experience.”
All summer long, Skinner, Lawrence and Whidden criss-crossed Nova Scotia, working in wetlands near places like Cheverie, Cogmagun River, Smith Gut, St. Croix, and Walton.
On the eastern shore, they helped monitor a salt marsh that was restricted from the Lawrencetown Lake tidal system by a poorly situated culvert. Now that a new culvert is in place and the restriction is gone, their sediment analyses and fish and vegetation surveys are showing that life is once again flourishing in the marsh.
For Whidden, more life meant more species to study, which was exactly what she wanted to do this summer. “One of my main goals of working there was to learn a lot about different marsh species,” she says. “And I was able to do that.”
Working at CBWES Inc. has been a learning experience for all three students, and although they’re still struggling with spotting those sink holes, the trio agree that it will be hard to rival another summer job like this.
“The only way that I would have had this incredible experience is through taking co-op,” says Skinner. “Having the opportunity to actually see where all of these species come from, see all of the work and monitoring that goes into restoration, was amazing.”