Road Bypass Relieves Pressure on New Brunswick Important Bird Area

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Great news for the Semipalmated Sandpipers and other migrant shorebirds that frequent New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy: a bypass route that redirects traffic around the Johnson’s Mills Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site has recently been completed. The 2.3-kilometre (1.4 mile) diversion will reduce traffic and create a buffer zone for the sensitive area, which includes vital habitat for roosting and feeding migrant shorebirds.

From the Moncton Times and Transcript:

JOHNSON’S MILLS – An ecological wildlife refuge in Johnson’s Mills has been preserved as the result of rerouting of Route 935 along Shepody Bay, the innermost arm of the Bay of Fundy…

…The relocation takes traffic from the buffer zone that is crucial to the ecological integrity of Shepody Bay. It also eliminates repeated stabilization efforts along the eroding shoreline that has seen the road moved back a number of times over the years.

The reserve is an area of nutrient-rich mudflats and roosting beaches that attract millions of migrating shorebirds every summer. The birds, in turn, attract bird watchers and other tourists from all over the world. Route 935 takes these visitors to the mudflats.

The federal government contributed $810,000 under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to support the initiative. The provincial government provided a matching contribution of $810,000 through the 2009-10 and 2010-11 capital budgets of the Department of Transportation for the balance of the project’s cost.

The road bypass not only benefits the WSHRN site, but the the Dorchester Cape and Grand Anse Important Bird Area.

Dorchester Cape is a rocky cape that extends into the bay, and Grand Anse is an area of sand and gravel beaches situated along the eastern coast of Shepody Bay, in eastern New Brunswick. It is adjoined by a large ledge of intertidal mud flats, known as Bucks Flats. Grand Anse is within the town of Johnsons Mills. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is by far the most abundant shorebird in the Bay of Fundy during fall migration, with up to 200,000 birds recorded at the roost site during peak migration. Dorchester Cape is also extremely important for migrating Dunlin, as well as numerous other shorebird species, including Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Red Knots, and White-rumped Sandpipers.