Explore the territory
Located in the Appalachian Natural Province, the territory of the natural corridor is part of the natural extension of Mont-Orford National Park. From Miller Lake to Mont-Orford National Park, the territory is characterized by mountains and lakes including Brompton, Larouche, Brais, Miller, Fraser and Stukely lakes as well as a few other smaller lakes. The long, thin shape of some lakes, such as Bowker Lake, is the result of glacial erosion from the last ice age around 10,000 years ago.
In the center of the territory, in the north-south axis, we note the presence of an escarpment zone bordered on each side by undulating terrain. These escarpments correspond to deep breaks in a super-continent into continental islands, around 600 million years ago, creating large ditches. We are thus witnessing a new cycle of opening and closing of an ocean, that of the Iapetus Ocean. In our natural corridor, the limit between the sagging continent and the Iapetus ocean floor can be followed from Mansonville in Estrie to Port-Daniel in Gaspésie. This geological limit is the most significant fault in the territory and is called the “Brompton-Baie-Verte line”.
From 560 to 540 million years ago, sedimentary and volcanic rocks were deposited in the ditch closest to the landmass of North America. This ditch crosses the natural salmon river corridor. You can see the remains in the area extending from Richmond to Sutton in the Eastern Townships. Curiously, geologists have found that the landscape resembles that of Djibouti in Ethiopia, at the northeast end of the African continent!
Between 500 and 450 million years ago, the movement of continental plates reversed: it was the partial closure of the Iapetus Ocean. When this ocean closed, part of the ocean floor was trapped between two continental plates, thus giving rise to the Appalachian mountain range. Mount Orford is one of the remains of the disappeared ocean floor.
The bottom of the ocean Iapetus is responsible for the establishment of a band of metamorphic rocks, slate, which is found along the Brompton-Baie-Verte line. This strip of slate crosses the watershed of the Rivière au Salmon in its north-south axis. Slate was popular in the area and mined at the end of the 19th century in the townships of the Township of Melbourne, Rockland and Kingsbury. It was exported to several regions of Quebec until 1912 and was used, among other things, to cover the roofs of buildings.
Along this strip of slate, we observe the presence of outcrops of serpentine also coming from the bottom of the ocean Iapetus. These outcrops give the natural environment a special interest. Serpentine is a metamorphic rock that contains high concentrations of metals toxic to flora, such as magnesium, cobalt, nickel and iron. On the other hand, its concentrations of nutrients sought by plants, such as calcium, potassium, nitrogen and silicon, are poor. This lack of nutrients promotes the growth of plant species specific to serpentine outcrops. These particular plant species are rare in the Estrie region, in Quebec and worldwide, because this rock formation totals less than 1% of the Earth’s surface.
Although recreational, agricultural and forestry activities take place in the area, the Rivière au Salmon watershed has retained a large part of its natural attractions, which gives it significant ecological value. Dominated by the forest (84%) and not very fragmented, the territory has a variety of natural environments such as lakes, rivers, wetlands and agricultural environments.
The largest river in the corridor is the Salmon River which is fed by eighteen lakes and twelve rivers. 22 kilometers long, it rises at the outlet of Lake Brompton, which is located at the foot of the Mont-Orford massif. Its mouth is located in the flood zone of the Saint-François river. The main rivers that feed it are Gulf, Miller, Ély, Des Vases and Horse streams. The salmon river crosses the territory in the north-south axis, largely in the forest environment, which allowed it to keep a "wild" aspect. It is bordered on each side by hardwoods offering a complete change of scenery.
Among the major lakes on the territory, Lake Brompton ranks first. Covering 1,191 hectares and 11.5 meters deep, it is supplied by nine tributaries. Lake Stukely occupies second place with an area of 386 hectares and a depth of 14 meters. Lake Bowker comes in third place with an area of 231 hectares and an exceptional depth of 59 meters. This peculiarity results from the last glacial erosion.
Several lakes and streams in the Salmon River watershed are of interest to many fishermen. Various spawning grounds have been identified, including brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, speckled trout, walleye, pike, yellow perch, longnose sucker and 'bass. Wetlands, marshes, swamps, ponds and peat bogs are numerous on the territory: thirty-nine sites of more than 1 hectare have been listed.
They are exceptional places for their rich biodiversity and precious for hundreds of wildlife species that find shelter, food and breeding grounds there. They are also essential to the health of the territory's lakes and streams: they protect their banks from erosion, they control floods, they regulate water levels and filter the water in the territory by retaining sediments in suspension. Among the remarkable wetlands of the territory, let us mention the Brompton Lake marsh and the Kingsbury marsh which are recognized as "areas of concentration of aquatic birds" by the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife.
The great diversity of natural environments favors the presence of numerous wildlife and plant species, many of which are threatened, vulnerable or rare. Inventories carried out throughout the territory and on targeted properties have enabled us to identify species with precarious status and to propose solutions for their protection.
The stands in the Rivière au Saumon watershed are typical of the bioclimatic zone of the sugar maple-lime forest area, which partly makes up the northern temperate vegetation zone. For example, forest stands are mainly dominated by maple stands associated with hardwoods, such as the hickory hickory, butternut, red oak and Virginia oyster or softwood. These vary according to different factors, such as topography, drainage, soil geology and the local micro-climate. For example, along the Salmon River we find a forest environment characterized by sugar maple and yellow birch accompanied by large-leaved beech, butternut, Virginia oyster, white ash 'America, red oak and late cherry. On dry, bare rock outcrops of humus-rich soil are hemlock, red and white pine forests.
Wetlands are often colonized by black spruce, tamarack, red maple and western white cedar. We can observe in regenerating areas, the presence of poplars, white birches and white and red spruce. These tree species are accompanied by shrubs, such as rough alder, balsam clam, narrow-leaved kalmia and broad-leaved spirea.
There are twelve exceptional forest ecosystems (EFE) in the watershed of the Rivière au Saumon, one old forest, five rare forests and six refuge forests. Old growth forests are characterized by the presence of trees that are well past maturity or have been little affected by human activity. Rare forests have a particular composition in plant species. They can also be rare because of their structure or their location. We are thinking here of red pine forests in their natural state located on serpentine outcrops. The majority of these rare forest ecosystems have disappeared as a result of human activities. Finally, refuge forests are forests where there are rare, threatened, vulnerable or vulnerable flora species.
The stands of this bioclimatic zone are accompanied by herbaceous species typical of the deciduous forests of southern Quebec. In the rich maple groves as well as in the cool woods and in the shade, the species most often found are the sanguinary of Canada, the mountain oxalide, the Greenland coptide, the caulophylle false pigamon, the dogwood of Canada, the Canadian mayanthemum, the pink streptope, the American erythrona and the erect trill. It is in wetlands that we find the greatest diversity of herbaceous plants, that is to say an abundance of species of sedges, grasses, ferns and other plants adapted to live in or near the water. The undergrowth of our territory contains a large quantity of small native plants, mosses, lichens and wild mushrooms.
Thus, the diversity of our forest environment composed of both mixed hardwoods and conifers promotes the growth of fungi of all kinds. Thus, we can discover several species of boletus, chanterelles, amanites, oyster mushrooms and russules.
Mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are all present in large numbers in the natural corridor of the Rivière au Salmon watershed. More than thirty mammals are represented there and circulate in the valley of the Gulf brook and the valley of the Rivière au Salmon, little fragmented forest areas of the territory. Among these are the black bear, the moose and the white-tailed deer.
Other rarer species such as the fisher, the mink and the bobcat take advantage of these large areas of forest to find shelter, refuge and food. A walk in the forest can detect the presence of the red fox, the muskrat, the beaver, the porcupine, the snowshoe hare and several small mammals. The avian fauna present in this important natural area is added to the many mammalian species. Over 190 species of birds have been observed within the boundaries of the Salmon River watershed.
The diversity of the forest environment as well as the presence of agricultural zones and wetlands on the territory provide the various avian species with the conditions necessary to nest, take refuge and feed. Inventories have confirmed the presence of sixty species of nesting birds in the territory. Among these, we find, among others, the peregrine falcon, the Cooper's hawk, the great horned owl, the great woodpecker, the scarlet tanager, the harrier Saint-Martin, the ruffed grouse and the little boreal owl.
Amphibians and reptiles also occupy a prominent place in or near wetlands. More than 20 species have been inventoried there, including 16 amphibians (frogs and salamanders) and 6 reptiles (snakes and turtles). Anurans, such as the green frog, the bullfrog and the American toad, are the easiest amphibians to spot. They stand out for their song during spring and summer. Salamanders, on the other hand, are rather discreet: they are well hidden under stones, decaying logs or along streams. We think here of the spotted salamander, the two-line salamander or the green newt. Regarding reptiles, the wood turtle, the painted turtle and the snapping turtle can be observed in wetlands and in certain lakes. Under the many rocks or tree trunks of the forest environment, you can observe the garter snake, the red-bellied snake and the grass snake.
Our species at risk
The Salmon River watershed is characterized by a slightly fragmented forest environment. Several rare, threatened or vulnerable species have been identified there during the inventories. The presence of these fauna and flora species is an indicator of the quality of the forest and aquatic habitats in the territory. According to the Act respecting threatened and vulnerable species in Quebec and according to the Committee on Species at Risk in Canada (COSEWIC), wildlife and plant species are in decline at regional, provincial or national level. They require special attention. The bald eagle, the peregrine falcon and the red-shouldered hawk are three raptors whose status is precarious.
The marsh frog, the purple salamander, the northern dusky salamander and the wood turtle are among the amphibian and reptile species for which conservation measures should be considered. Their presence in certain rivers in the territory is an excellent indicator of the quality of the aquatic environment. Finally, among mammals, the bobcat is a species likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable by Quebec. Rare and insecure plant species include green mountain asbestos, a fern typical of serpentine outcrops, as well as wild garlic, five-leaved ginseng, Bailey sedge and white trillium.