1.1. What is Adopt-A-Stream?

The Adopt-A-Stream Program (AaS), brings professional habitat biologists and volunteers together to rehabilitate aqautic habitats for fish and wildlife. The Nova Scotia AaS program has been very successful in restoring thousands of square meters of habitats over the past ten years.

Enthusiastic fish and wildlife groups, community organizations, and schools have cleaned streams, stabilized stream banks, restored fish populations, and installed special devices to improve habitat for fish, birds, and other aquatic and land-based wildlife living around watercourses.

Fish and other animals have a certain set of "needs" to live and grow: water, space, shelter and food. Taken together over time, these elements describe an animal's habitat. Each kind of fish (species) or group of related fish needs a particular combination of water, space, food, and water. These are called habitat requirements.

In the river near the farm above, important habitat requirements were spoiled. We'll talk more about this later, but briefly silt smothers fish eggs or young fish in the gravel, harms their gills, and makes it difficult for fish to catch insects for food. With the Adopt-A-Stream program you will learn how to improve habitat for fish and other wildlife that live in or near waterways of all kinds. Adopting a waterway means trying to make it a better place for fish to live. This is called habitat improvement or rehabilitation.

A fisheries biologist was studying a stream near a farm. The farmer told him that when he was younger he caught many large trout out of the stream. Now there were none. The biologist asked him what had been done near the stream in the last thirty years. The man said, "I've owned the land since my father passed it down and I've been farming and cutting firewood in the same way that my father did. Nothing's changed."

When asked to think about it again the landowner said, "Actually, there haven't been trout in here since they built the new road and bridge over there in 1968." The biologist went to look at the bridge and could see that it had been built improperly. Silt had been pouring into the stream every time it rained. This silt had ruined the habitat for trout

After an illness or an accident we have to rehabilitate or rebuild our bodies. The process you are now reading about is the rehabilitation of fish habitat which might include cleaning a waterway or building special structures. Other options will be outlined as you read further.

Many human activities change streams and other waterways. These include:
• over-fishing
• chemical pollution of waters from households, farms, industry, road salt, acid rain
• careless land-use practices (improper farming, forestry, road construction and improper stream-crossing techniques).
You are probably aware of problems facing Nova Scotia's waterways, and may feel helpless about doing anything. The Adopt-A-Stream provides good news for those of you who are worried about our environment and want to help in a practical way. Adopting a stream, lake, or river is much more than a one-time spring clean-up of a waterway in your community. Adopting a waterway means taking a long-term interest in its welfare by nurturing and caring for it.

Don't worry about making mistakes, or that the work will be too technical and difficult. This manual will give you the confidence to get started , and along the way there are trained professionals ready and willing to help.

The rewards of participating in the Adopt-A-Stream program can be many:

• Above all, you will develop a sense of stewardship towards nature.

• Your group will develop a sense of community pride and accomplishment.

• Working together outdoors is a healthful and pleasant activity.

• You will learn more about the history of your community and come to appreciate it in a new way.

• You will learn about our natural environment and its ecosystems. Working in or near a waterway often means you can study birds, fish, and other animals, and learn how to identify plants. Learning in the Adopt-A-Stream program is practical, hands-on learning, enjoyed by children and adults alike.

• You will enhance the Ecotourism potential of your area. Ecotourism (hiking, birdwatching, canoeing etc.) has great economic potential for our province.


A steward is a caretaker or a guardian.

Stewardship is an important concept if we are to make our environment a healthier place to live.

Stewardship means looking after something so that it stays healthy and productive for future generations to enjoy and use.

Sometimes stewardship will mean restoring or cleaning up something to make it look and function more like it did long ago.

Environmental stewardship means looking after our planet, our country, our province, your own backyard.

People involved in stewardship programs are better environmental citizens.