Recreation Associated with Lake Petitcodiac
Recreation: When the causeway was first proposed, approved, and constructed, recreation was a major selling feature of the plan. The 21 km of safe waterway (Lake Petitcodiac) was promoted as a freshwater recreational lake for the general public to enjoy.
Initially, stream bank erosion, water quality and limited access to the lake discouraged recreation on the lake.
Improvements to erosion and water quality were made in the lake in the early 1980’s, and more recently accessibility to the lake has improved with the Tri-Community Marina and boat ramp. As a result, water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, motor boating, water skiing, sailing, and swimming in the lake have increased in recent years.
The number of recreational hours on the lake have never been adequately assessed, but are on the rise and it is estimated that > 10,000 hours of boating presently occurs on the lake and that recreational hours will continue to increase if the threat of draining the lake is gone (McDuff 1997, Lake Petitcoadiac Tour Boat Operator, personal communication).
Smallmouth Bass Fishing tournaments have been held by the Tri-Community Maria each year with very promising results. This fishery is an unrecognized asset to the Greater Moncton area because proponents of removing the causeway will not recognize its worth to the community. Although Small mouth Bass are not native to Petitcodiac River they do replace fisheries that were lost decades ago.
New Brunswick’s largest snowmobile club, the “Southeastern New Brunswick Snowmobile Club” uses the ice-covered lake as part of its trail system (SENBSC Map) and without the lake would become isolated from the rest of the Provincial/National trail system. (Update: SENBSC has made tentative agreement with the ATV Club to have access to the old Train trussel crossing in Salisbury, new Snowmoblie trails will need to be incorporated for this plan to work, and the attitudes between these two Rival groups will also have to change!).
Estimates are that > 10,000 snowmobiles cross the lake each year to connect to the Provincial trails (Sandy Young, president of the Southeastern Snowmobile Club 1997, personal communication). The club (SENBSC) has held various racing events on Lake Petitcodiac in the past that attract hundreds of snowmobilers each year from the rest of the Atlantic Provinces - uncertainty about the lake spoiled these events.
Thousands of Canada Geese, and various other species of waterfowl use the lake in spring and autumn during their migrations. At least three protected species of birds live at Lake Petitcodiac which include one, possibly two, pair of bald eagles (location of one nest identified with two hatchling, NBDNR 1997 ), two pair of osprey (two nest identified) and two pair of common Loons. A variety of other avian species and small mammals inhabit the lake and because this area is hunting restricted it serves as a - wildlife refuge.
The number of bird watchers visiting the lake are growing every year (personal observation). Dr. Mary Mijka reported sightings of rare and endangered species, like swans, that use the lake on their migration routes, but has complained that birdwatching from shore is very difficult (personal communication, 1995).
Birdwatching is a major outdoor pursuit and since the 1990’s more money has been spent on this sport than any other outdoor pursuit in North America (Moore, 1997). A birdwatching boat tour on Lake Petitcodiac could prove economically advantageous to Greater Moncton’s tourism industry. Unfortunately, misinformation, lack of promotion and the uncertainty of the lake caused a tour boat operator to close his business to sell his boat and discontinue his commercial license.
The Town of Riverview recently opened an offleash Dog Park, "Isaac's Run" next to Lake Petitcodiac where access to the water provides enjoyment for Pets and Owners alike.
The possibilities for recreation and tourism are endless for Lake Petitcodiac and will be sacrificed by an experiment that has little hope of producing any returns.