Well-managed forests make clean water…and the occasional salmon!

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 03/18/2016

A contribution to “International Day of Forests”

Fifteen years ago, I purchased two woodland properties totaling 200 acres in Northern New Brunswick, Canada.  The woodlots border two beautiful rivers, the Cains and Renous, which are a key part of the ecosystem in this area and contribute to the great biodiversity.  The water is clear and clean and home to Atlantic Salmon and Speckled Trout.  The only developments upstream are the occasional small camps near the river bank and forestry operations which are a key part of the local economy.

They are my favorite places to explore, take photos, pick mushrooms and berries…and just absorb nature and its peace, quiet and beauty.  

Both properties have been harvested for wood in the past, likely several times over the past 200 years.  But the forest has regenerated as it always does, and it is healthy with an abundance of wildlife such as White-tailed Deer, Moose, Black Bear, Coyote, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare and many more species.  To date, about 65 species of birds have been recorder, including Bald Eagles and Ospreys. 

I am a firm believer in sustainable forest management as a way to ensure long-term forest health and provide economic, environmental and recreational benefits.  To ensure proper management of the properties, I work with local foresters and have developed a long-term forest management plan.  Part of this plan includes protecting sensitive wetlands and waterways by making sure no disturbances and harvesting occurs within a “buffer zone” around wetlands, streams and rivers.  

The forest and riparian vegetation along the river and streams is essential in preventing erosion and siltation during heavy rains or high water conditions.  It also helps keep water temperatures cool, which is essential for fish like Salmon and Trout.  The use of best practices such as buffer zones when managing the forest helps maintain good water quality.  This is a regulatory requirement for local forestry operations in addition to all Crown Land being third-party certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard.

The main attraction for me has always been the rivers - I am an avid fisherman and love to fly fish.  One of my favorite things to do in the spring, summer and fall is get up early so that I am in the water throwing my first cast at 6 am latest, and watching the sun rise over the trees. The only sounds around me are the birds singing and the water flowing by.  I am alone and I feel on top of the world. This connection to nature makes life special.   If I happen to see a Moose cross the river, or an Osprey dive for a fish, it’s a bonus.  Occasionally, I will land a salmon…and then it’s a perfect day! 

Good forestry promotes healthy forests, which makes clean water and all of its associated benefits.