Freshwater ecosystem restoration in La Mauricie National Park: 16 years of ecological gains and the rewriting of the territory’s human occupation

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Marc-André Valiquette, Caroline Cormier

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A century and a half of logging and log driving prior to the creation of La Mauricie National Park have caused significant degradation of freshwater ecosystems. Some sixty log drive dams at lakes outlets altered water levels, hydric regimes and fish movement. In many locations, logs sank or washed up along shores, further altering riparian and lake habitats. The dismantling of 20 dams and the removal of 110,000 logs from lakes in the last 16 years restored many water regimes and lake habitats in the park. Beyond these ecological gains, Resource Conservation team wanted to evaluate the resilience of riparian vegetation and the establishment of native or exotic species on newly exposed banks. The vegetation of lakes with dam removal 3, 4 and 16 years earlier was assessed and compared with a control lake. Using randomly positioned transects, the study showed: 1) the presence of native plant species only, 2) the establishment of a secondary succession after 3 years, and 3) similar vegetation structure and composition after 16 years compared to the control. The restoration work also allowed to make important archeological and historical discoveries in the area. The recovery of lake water levels has also revealed new paleohistoric occupation sites, demonstrating a more easterly human presence on the territory than previously assumed. Dendrochronological analysis of dam’s logs revealed an industrial scale log driving activity half a century before previously thought. The ecological restoration of lakes in La Mauricie National Park significantly improved the ecological integrity of freshwater ecosystems while allowing the establishment of native riparian vegetation, contributing to human history and improving beach access to park visitors.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program