New Watershed Ecologist working for the Watershed Alliance

My name is Mary Finch and I am the new Watershed Ecologist hired to work with the PEI Watershed Alliance.   I am excited to work with all of you as I am continually amazed at the amount of good environmental work that watershed groups complete in PEI.

A little bit of background about myself, I have over 10 years experience in watershed and aquatic ecology.  I was born and raised in the Yukon, attended university in Ontario and then worked in Southern Ontario helping community groups complete stream rehabilitation work as a biologist with Trout Unlimited Canada.  Since moving to PEI in 2013, I worked with Fred Cheverie at the Souris and Area Branch of PEI Wildlife Federation.  I am very proud to be call PEI my home and happy to be raising my children here.

So what will I be doing as Watershed Ecologist? My role is to help and support you, the Watershed Groups of PEI.  My job duties include: providing technical advice on watershed projects (i.e., forest, riparian, wetlands and watercourse) including project identification, monitoring and implementation; connecting groups with resources and experts; identifying and coordinating training opportunities; supporting the Watershed Alliance; and facilitating communication among groups.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I will be traveling around the island to visit you and your groups. I am keen to meet all of you, to listen and learn first-hand about your watersheds, your successes, your challenges, and to work together in continuing to improve the island’s environment and watersheds.

Please feel free to contact me either through email: or by phone 902-394-0999.



Water Act consultations begin in October

Dates and locations for the first round of public consultations related to creating a Water Act for Prince Edward Island were announced yesterday afternoon by the provincial government. All the details can be found on the CBC site here:

The Water Act website is at

There are a number of ways to make your voice heard, and the Watershed Alliance encourages you to do that.

Watershed training well attended

About 40 watershed employees attended a training session in North Granville on July 6th. The day started with training in how to prevent disease transmission between farms. Rosie MacFarlane gave an excellent presentation on all aspects of watershed wildlife and restoration techniques, then the afternoon was spent learning some of those techniques in the field.
Disinfection Station



New staff trained in using WGIS

On June 30th, 14 people attended a Watershed Geographic Information System (WGIS) training course, including a number of new watershed coordinators and supervisors. The WGIS software, which was developed by the PEI Watershed Alliance last year, is being used by the majority of watershed groups to meet their GIS and GPS mapping needs. For those who were unable to attend the course, there will be another one in the fall.

WGIS Training

Province endorses PEI Watershed Strategy

The Prince Edward Island Watershed Strategy will ensure meaningful watershed enhancement and protection, said Minister of Communities, Land and Environment Robert Mitchell.

“The P.E.I. Watershed Strategy is the result of a strong partnership between the Island’s Watershed Alliance and the provincial government. The strategy provides a roadmap for us going forward as we work to improve watershed management across the province,” said Minister Mitchell. “I see this strategy as an important step towards setting an overall direction for watershed management in the province. I want to thank the committee members who worked hard on the development of this strategy to ensure it will be an effective resource in the future of watershed planning.”

The strategy is intended to be a guide for individuals, community groups, businesses and government agencies who are involved with the conservation and restoration of watersheds. It outlines how government and watershed groups will work together towards the achievement of noted long-term and short-term goals related to Island watersheds and presents collective responsibilities of action moving forward.

“Today marks an important day for watershed management on Prince Edward Island. It is extremely pleasing to see the completion of the P.E.I. Watershed Strategy and we emphasize the value of partnerships in reaching this point,” said Chair of the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance Dale Cameron. “We look forward to active participation from all Islanders in the implementation of this strategy resulting in meaningful watershed management and protection of P.E.I.’s most important natural resource – water.”

Objectives of the strategy include ensuring watersheds provide sustainable quantities of clean, safe water; enhancing watershed ecosystems; increasing capacity of individuals, organizations and industries to take responsibility for protecting and managing watershed ecosystems; enhancing partnerships to empower engagement on watershed management; and increasing public awareness.

It can be viewed online at


Watershed Strategy moving forward

After a number of years, the Provincial Watershed Strategy will be formally presented to the Executive Council this Fall. The strategy includes promises made by the Watershed Alliance and the Provincial Government to begin the task of implementing the recommendations of several government sponsored environmental studies, including the Nitrate Commission and the Task Force for Sustainable Land Management.

Fish kills in the news again

As you will have heard, there was a serious fish kill in North River this month. This time it has drawn the attention of Charlottetown councilors, as it happened in the same watershed as the new city well-field. On average, we have had a reported fish kill every year since 1962, the majority of which are directly attributable to mismanagement of pesticides. Since 2011 we have suffered four major fish kills. A useful resource for fish kill data up to 2011 can be found here:

Watershed Groups feature in all three PEI Environmental Awards

Congratulations to Winter River Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, to Kelly Lockhart and Myles Lord of South Shore Watershed Association, and to Summerside Intermediate School, for winning this year’s PEI Environmental Awards. SIS worked with Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association, so all three awards are related to the hard work that these watershed groups have been doing over the past years. Click here for more details.

EnvironAwards 2014

Photo: Brian Simpson, Provincial Photographer

PEI Government is still considering Fracking

On December 6th, the Watershed Alliance wrote to the Minister of Environment in support of the Standing Committee’s recommendation for a moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing. We received a reply which unfortunately states that the government has not yet made a decision, and that in order to protect our groundwater there would be an environmental impact assessment before fracking was allowed on PEI.

Our letter:

The reply:

Alliance hosting Groundwater Extraction Workshop

In order to get a better understanding of the issues involved in the successful management of groundwater levels, the Watershed Alliance is hosting a Groundwater Extraction Workshop. The workshop will bring together watershed groups, scientists, government and industry representatives for a series of presentations and a discussion around the subject. By invitation only. Here is the agenda.

Fish kills in the news again

The recent fish kills are devastating news for all Islanders. The Watershed Alliance is disappointed that the recommendations that were made following the fish kills last year have not yet been implemented. Shawn Hill, Executive Director of the PEI Watershed Alliance, was interviewed on CBC radio about the recent fish kills. You can hear the interview here. Also, Gary Schneider wrote a piece for the Eastern Graphic, and there was a story in the West Prince Graphic too.

Letter to USFDA concerning GM Salmon

The PEI Watershed Alliance has written a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration opposing genetically modified salmon. The USFDA had asked the public for comments, and the Alliance responded with concerns about the potential devastation of wild salmon stocks, the lack of evidence that engineered fish are safe, and that GM fish run contrary to all the work our members have been doing towards restoring the environment for our native fish. Read the letter here.

2013 AGM

The 2013 AGM of the PEI Watershed Alliance will be held on Saturday, April 20th, at 9am, in Hunter River Community Hall (behind Harmony House). For more information, click here.

Report of the Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management

The Report of the Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management is now posted on the government website. This is the committee that met to develop measures to prevent future fish kills in Prince Edward Island’s waterways.

Here is the report:

Here is a backgrounder – the press release from when the committee was formed: