We’re Ready to Grow!

Hi there, thanks for stopping by! We are working really hard and your encouragement and support keeps us going every day!

The Jijuktu’kwejk Watershed Alliance is more than two years old, and we are ready to take the next BIG step to help restore the Cornwallis River! This year we plan to hire our first full time staff- they will be doing all the things we haven’t quite been able to get to- launching public programs, coordinating volunteer events, writing grants for more projects and more staff, and generally doing all the great things that will help restore the Cornwallis River! It’s very exciting but a lot of work- we want to make sure we are ready for a person to come on board and start doing great work as soon as possible!

Before that happens, we are having a great time with our three summer interns. Angelica, Mark and Nikki started with us on June 18 and will have 10 weeks to cover projects such as:

  • water quality assessments at 10 sites
  • learning about the sewage treatment plants along the river
  • visiting potential wetland restoration sites around the watershed with McCallum Environmental
  • modelling pesticide application to agricultural lands and potential inputs into the river
  • searching for rare and sensitive wood turtle habitat
  • and much more!!!
  • They are a fantastic team and have hit the ground running! This week they were being trained on their new equipment on loan from the Community Based Environmental Monitoring Network in Halifax.

We are so happy to have your support- can we ask you to renew your membership and help us reach our funding goal for our new staff member? Last year our wonderful members contributed $635 to the Alliance, and we are hoping to increase that through some new grants, and also by sharing our work with lots of new people in the valley. If you are able, please consider a membership and donation, but if you are not able, please share our work with your friends, family, and colleagues, and anyone else who cares about the Cornwallis (Jijuktu’kwejk) River!

Most Sincerely and Gratefully,
Jennifer West

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Movie: Plastic Ocean

June 8th is World Oceans Day and we are presenting a very important movie called “Plastic Ocean” to bring more awareness about what we throw out, what gets into the river and what is filling up our oceans.

Friday June 8th, 5:30-7:30pm.  Berwick Library.  Food and drinks provided.

A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect.

This is a joint presentation of the Jijuktuk’wejk Watershed Alliance, North Mountain Coffee, Valley Regional Waste Management, the Clean Annapolis River Project, and the Annapolis Valley Regional Library in Berwick.

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May 22, 2018: Restoring Habitat for a Healthier River

Please join us for our annual gathering where we will learn about habitat and wetlands from a local expert, and also hear about how the Watershed Alliance did in 2017!

Restoring Habitat for a Healthier River
Annual Gathering of the Jijuktu’kwejk Watershed Alliance
May 22, 38 Cornwallis Street, Kentville NS
Improving the Cornwallis River health through habitat restoration: what are the best opportunities for landowners to make a difference?  Meghan Milloy from McCallum Environmental will be speaking about wetlands and watershed health, followed by discussion about the River and the Jijuktu’kwejk (gee-gee-wok-tok) Watershed Alliance!  A short business meeting will follow to share the annual report.
Please visit our Facebook page and let us know if you are coming!  Please share our Facebook event and this email with your friends and family!
We look forward to seeing you, and celebrating our successes together!Australian
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Flying Squirrel Adventures!


Theme: Getting to know the Ravine

Join us for an exploration of the Kentville Ravine on April 21st, 10 am

On our first get-together, we’ll be exploring the Ravine and getting to know the plants and animals that make it their home.  Retired biology professor Soren Bondrup-Nielsen will be leading the adult programming stream on a walk along the Ravine trails and sharing some of its hidden and not so hidden gems.

The children’s programming stream will also be on a ‘getting- to-know-the-Ravine adventure’ but at a different pace with program facilitators, Emily LeGrand and Marina Myra.

Meeting point: by the upper trailhead parking lot behind the Research Station  (see map)

Flying Squirrel Adventures is open to anyone with an interest in being outside, active and learning about nature.  Each session starts with all ages combined in a sharing circle where we chat about the plan for the day.  Depending on the themes and topics to be explored, the group will do some activities together before breaking into a children’s stream and an adult stream.  At the end of the session, the two groups come back together to share their experiences.

Find out more: https://valleyflyingsquirrel.wordpress.com/

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April 12: Sniffer Dogs as Conservation Assistants!

You won’t believe it- you can use DOGS to find rare and sensitive species (no they don’t eat them)!  This will be a relaxed talk and presentation by Dr. Simon Gadbois- he will share some stories about challenges and opportunities of using dogs to help some species recover.  Discussion with the audience will be encouraged after his talk!

The sniffer dog as a (re)search assistant for the field naturalist

Simon Gadbois ~ Canid Behaviour Research Team, Dalhousie University

Wildlife Conservation Canines: Sounds crazy? Simon Gadbois had been studying canids (members of the dog family) since 1992. When the Canadian Centre for Wolf Research closed in 2007, he focused his attention on domestic dogs as research assistants in the field. Since 2009, he has been involved in a number of projects where dogs helped finding wildlife or their signs in their natural environment, including species at risk and invasive species. About half a dozen dogs have been actively involved in projects looking for Ribbon Snakes, Wood Turtles, Blanding’s Turtles, Eastern Coyotes, Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetles, Carcasses of bats and birds at wind farm sites, etc. Dr. Gadbois will discuss the different projects from the past decade as well as the challenges and problems associated with training, breeds, target species and the human factor.

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Feb 8: Learn to Identify and Protect At-Risk Landbirds

Have you seen these birds?

Learn to recognize birdcalls, identify nesting grounds, and help survey the populations of three at-risk landbirds in this free interactive workshop.

Track your data during this spring’s mating season, help NS scientists protect vulnerable species, and add something new to your outdoor adventures!

Thursday, February 8
7pm presentation, 8pm Q&A
Kings Mutual Century Centre (AppleDome)
250 Veterans Lane, Berwick

  • Free Public Workshop
  • All ages and levels of experience
  • Light refreshments
  • Walk-ins welcome, RSVP requested for buying snacks and for storm events

Find this event on facebook, or download a poster for printing:

Contact: Katie McLean, katiemclean@annapolisriver.ca(902)-532-7533

Brought to you by the Clean Annapolis River Project, Dalhousie University and the Jijuktu’kwejk Watershed Alliance


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All About Fall and Winter Insects!

We have been working hard to prepare for (gasp) our 2018 summer season!  Planning our activities for next summer will allow us to write really strong and convincing grant applications.  We have a few projects on the go as well, but you should come out to our next meeting to find out more:

November 25th, 10am to 12pm, 3027 Lovett Road, Coldbrook

We hope you can join us for a family-friendly meeting, all about BUGS! Dr. Murray Colbo will host the next meeting on November 25th from 10am to 12pm at 3027 Lovett Road in Coldbrook (park near the house). Come learn about aquatic ecology from a local expert! Free, open to all, please spread the word!

Dress for the weather – bugs and larvae will be visible through microscopes in Murray’s garage – participants can look at and discuss aquatic insects – questions will be answered by Dr. Colbo – a short hike to the river will follow

This is a joint event between the JWA and the Berwick Young Naturalists Club!  Thanks to Judy and Murray for organizing this event!

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All about wood turtles!

Thanks to Penni Burrell for taking some notes at last night’s public talk on wood turtles!  Here are some of her thoughts:

Why we had the presentation:
The last wood turtle sighting in the area of the Jijuktu’kwejk river was in the 1980’s. The 4 summer students found areas that could be good nesting sites, in terms of the natural habitation. The river would likely need to be cleaned up for them to be used by wood turtles. Funds are needed to have formal studies done to see if there are wood turtles in the more untouched areas of the watershed.

Some reasons why wood turtles are endangered:
They are not fertile until at least 12 years old, sometimes up to 20.
They only lay 12 eggs at most per year. Frogs, by comparison lay thousands.
They usually return to the same place every year – that may have been disturbed.
Their nests are vulnerable to local predators whose populations are increasing: raccoons, skunks and coyotes. It is when they are newly hatched that they are the most vulnerable.
They need deep cold water to winter in with rocks on the bottom. Rivers such as the Jijuktu’kwejk are full of sludge so the rocks are not easy to get to.

FYI of how wood turtles are being preserved in areas of Nova Scotia where they are more prevalent, such as the Annapolis River watershed:
Farmers are given financial incentives to not cut hay until after July 15, when the nesting season is pretty well over. (Hay only, as the other crops are usually only reaped well after nesting season).
Farmers are given financial incentives to raise their mowing blade levels to be high enough to miss the low heights of wood turtles.
There are information videos and handouts to educate farmers about why this is important that are clear, brief and done in a way that makes learning easy and interesting. They are available upon request to share with farmers.

And for the many of us who thought turtles were deaf because they don’t have ears (Google is full of ‘true or false’ queries) – they do hear, and the noise of the combines sometimes scares them enough to get out of the way.

For those of us who encounter turtles on the road:
All turtle types gravitate towards roads, as gravel is their natural nesting place – and roads tend to have gravel at the side.
If you see them on the road, pick them up and move them off the road in the direction they were headed – not back to where they came from. They know where they are going, and have their reasons. Help them continue on their path :).
Snapping turtles are dangerous. look like dinosaurs, havejagged edges and dull colours. All the others have more vibrant colours. You can safely push snapping turtles with a piece of wood to safety.

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Coming Soon: Free Public Events!

The Jijuktu’kwejk Watershed Alliance believes that residents in the watershed should learn more about their river and the plants and animals that live there!  This fall, join us for some free public events that will help you get to know your watershed.

Wood Turtles!  September 26, 6pm, Kentville Recreation Centre
Get to know the Mi’kMaw Conservation Group, October 12, 6pm, Kentville Recreation

Plan to attend, and please share these posts with your friends and family!


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This just in: Summer student final report!

We are so pleased to share with you the final report from our first team of summer students!  We were so lucky to have on our team Brendan Vibert, Ellen Hatt, Alex Young and Nikki Lloyd.  They brought together their broad experience around sampling, data collection, biology, geology, and local indigenous knowledge to create a solid, friendly, hard-working team.  The four of them worked independently on a list of projects and goals that the Alliance board provided to them.  Some members of the board were able to check in with them every week or more, and guide them through their work, but they also had help from Acadia University, the Annapolis Valley First Nation, the Mikmaw Conservation Group, and the Friends of the Cornwallis River.

Want to know more about their findings?  Read and share their final report here!


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