How healthy is the St. John River?

How healthy is your river? Thanks to WWF’s recently released Freshwater Health Assessment (FHA), we now have an answer for the St. John River and 6 other rivers across the country. And the answer is: Fair.  (To learn more about how we can up with this result, check out this blog on the process of the developing the assessment). What does this score tell us?
It tells us that all the groups working to ensure a resilient and healthy St. John River basin – over 160 – are making a difference.  Thanks to FHA, we now know that the impact of the many on-the-ground activities, monitoring, education and other efforts of a wide range of agencies, industries, stakeholders, rights holders and others are contributing to the river being in “fair” condition.  This is consistent with what we have been hearing in recent years from a number of sources, and reflects the constant changes to and overall improvement in the condition of the river.

© Simon Mitchell/ WWF-Canada

One area of concern for the St. John – and most every other river across the country – is the available data to inform the assessment.  The three jurisdictions whose boundaries overlap the St. John River have significant data on a number of indicators associated with the river, and as more people become aware of the assessment it is our hope that this will be incorporated into the Freshwater Health Assessment.  This will allow us to build a more robust picture of water health here and across the country.
Ours isn’t the only national attention being heaped on the St. John River these days – thanks to the efforts of many advocates over the years, the St. John River was designated as Canada’s 38th Canadian Heritage River at a riverside ceremony in Fredericton last week.  Recognized for its rich cultural history and recreational values, this is a well deserved acknowledgement of the river and its unique place in history within this vast river nation.  Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside summed it up best when he said “Let’s be vigilant – we need more than the designation.  We have to concern ourselves with the health of the St. John River.”
© Simon Mitchell/ WWF-Canada