Preliminary assessment of aquatic habitat and biota in Red Bay, Bruce County, Ontario: Final Report

Chow-Fraser, Patricia
Unpublished technical report
2011 December


Bruce County is home to a complex, diverse, and integrated network of provincially significant wetlands (PSW) and ANSI (area of natural and scientific interest) sites, with numerous species-at-risk (SAR) using this critical habitat. Currently, a system of country roads exists in the region, allowing for low-density traffic to reach mainly residential and cottage properties. We know that the current roads dissect natural corridors and contribute to road-related mortality of a variety of species (Eco-Kare 2010). We are aware that the Spotted Turtles Clemmys guttata, a species at risk both provincially and federally, has been found in the area south of Petrel Point Road, but we suspect that they have a much wider distribution. The drainage basin has not been properly assessed for its fish communities to determine sensitive aquatic habitat. Currently, there is a proposal by Bruce County to expand these country roads to a County status road (termed West Road). This could have detrimental effects on water quality and the local wildlife. Proper studies and an environmental assessment are required in order to determine the effect of road expansion on the existing habitat and species. We visited Red Bay (Town of South Bruce Peninsula, Bruce County, Ontario) at the end of August 2011 to conduct a preliminary assessment of the aquatic habitat in the area. During the one and a half field days, we focused our efforts on three regions: Howdenvale Bay, Sucker Creek, and a portion of a Mineral Swamp at the junction of Huron Rd. and Red Bay Rd. We assessed the nearshore fish community in Howdenvale Bay, and surveyed the latter two sites for aquatic and semi-aquatic species, particularly Spotted Turtles. Based on the fish species, mussel species, and suitability of turtle habitat that were found, we recommend that a proper three-season assessment be conducted in the region of Red Bay. This should include the areas that we sampled as well as the remainder of the extensive PSW’s and tributaries in proximity to the roads that drain into Howdenvale Bay and Sucker Creek. Field seasons should include at the minimum spring, summer and fall surveys in order to obtain an adequate idea of the resident and migratory fish species, and determine the home range of various turtle species (including nesting and hibernation sites).