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Stone blockage, litter in an area of Broad Brook in Yarmouth causes concerns and search for solution

Stephen Sollows crosses an area of Broad Brook where rocks have been placed in the brook to create a path across.
Stephen Sollows crosses an area of Broad Brook where rocks have been placed in the brook to create a path across.

YARMOUTH, N.S. – A Yarmouth couple and members of local environment groups are concerned that a portion of Broad Brook, behind the Yarmouth high school, has been blocked by some rocks, used to make a pathway across the brook.

While it’s felt by the environmental group members that those who put the rocks across the brook may not have known there are implications to impeding the flow of a waterway, they do want to see it cleaned up, as do the property owners.

Since it’s assumed the rocks were put there by students attending the high school, environmental group members are looking to approach the school to try and include students in a cleanup.

Ginny Smith, a member of the Yarmouth Environmental Think Tank, would like to see the issue approached in a positive nature saying while people who block waterways should be held accountable, there is also a teaching moment here to make people, and particularly youth, know that you can't you block a waterway and you can’t disrespect people’s properties.

“The flow of the water is a concern because it's an environmental issue,” she says, but the matter has upset and disheartened the property owners as well. “I really do think we should try, as an organization, to see if we can organize some sort of a cleanup soon and try to engage the kids.”

This particular area adjacent to the brook (and there is also an area closer to the student parking lot where rocks have been placed across the brook) is an obvious hangout location. There is evidence people are smoking here and trash litters the site. At one point there was even a couch here, but it has been removed. The area is not within public view, nor is it on the high school property.

At one point a couch was in the area but that was removed.

In addition to the rocks being moved and the garbage at the site, the property owners, who asked not to be named, are upset and stressed by the fact that property stake markers put in place through a costly survey of the land have been removed. The rocks put across the brook came from a rock wall that also defines the border of their property. No trespassing signs were also removed.

No trespassing signs have been removed.

Stephen Sollows, also a member of the group Yarmouth Environmental Think Tank, and who shares all of the concerns of the property owners, says everyone needs to know you can’t block waterways. It can have flooding implications, he notes, and as well there are at least six species of fish that migrate through Broad Brook.

“It flows north to south so obviously anything to the north is going to back up further. Is that going to hurt anything immediately, as far as human activities goes, probably not, but you’ve got nesting waterfowl, amphibians, there’s all kinds of things in there that it’s certainly going to have an effect on,” he says.

“Youth probably do not understand the magnitude of the fallout of such actions,” he adds. But the more the brook is blocked, the more problems it can create. Not all of the blockage at this site is from human hands. Fallen trees and other natural elements have also blocked portions of the brook. It’s all problematic.

“When you start playing around with watercourses it’s a no-no,” he says. “And unfortunately that does happen a lot on Broad Brook just because of the lack of respect we humans have for marshy areas. People see a marsh and they want to fill it in.”

He says many people just don’t know any different.

John Sollows of TREPA says people do need to be educated. He notes the federal Fisheries Act does spell out that it is an offence to obstruct any fishway.

He has raised the issue of what has taken place in the brook with the principal of the high school and other staff.

He is also hoping to see a cleanup involving students.


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