SAM Member Since: July 2023
Area Protected: 89 acres
Irishtown-Summerside is a small community with a population of 1400 on the west coast of Newfoundland, nestled on the north shore of Humber Arm in the scenic Bay of Islands. It is the product of the amalgamation of the Town of Irishtown and the Town of Summerside, both incorporated separately in 1970. Named respectively for the background of the early settlers and for being on the “sunny side” of the Humber Arm, the area attracted settlers due to the rich salmon, herring, and lobster fisheries, as well as the potential to harvest and trade lumber and furs. As early as the 1700s, English and French fishers began to fish in the Bay of Islands, with permanent settlements following in the 1800s. As with other surrounding communities, the Corner Brook paper mill had a significant impact on Irishtown and Summerside in the 1920s, as more people were attracted to the area and the population of both communities grew to what they are today.
The Irishtown-Summerside Conservation Area covers approximately 89 acres (36 hectares) of prime riparian habitat along the Hughes Brook waterway, with 13.6 acres (5.5 hectares) located to the north of the Northshore Highway (HWY 440) and 75.4 acres (30.5 hectares) located to the south of the highway. The Conservation Area includes a 50 m buffer from the water’s edge of Hughes Brook, and a 30 m buffer on a tributary south of Jarvis Road that flows from the Highway leading to the brook.
The entirety of the Town of Irishtown-Summerside is within what is known as the Corner Brook subregion of the Western Newfoundland Forest ecoregion. This ecoregion is characterized by humid climate and relatively longer frost-free periods. Though highly variable, it contains some of the best sites for forest growth. The dominant forest cover is generally Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) rather than Black spruce (Picea mariana), with Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) also common.
The Bay of Islands, and the riparian and wetland habitats that surrounds it are rich habitat for dozens of bird species, including waterfowl such as American black duck (Anas rubripes), mergansers (Mergus sp.), goldeneyes (Bucephala sp.), several gull and tern species, shorebirds such as Greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) and Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius), songbirds, and raptors such as Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Centrally, the Hughes Brook waterway is a shared ecologically and culturally significant waterway that flows through and forms the boundaries between the municipalities of Irishtown-Summerside, Hughes Brook, and Corner Brook. A freshwater waterway that runs to a saltwater marsh estuary before ultimately emptying into the Bay of Islands, Hughes Brook encompasses some of the most ecologically valuable habitat in Irishtown-Summerside. Home to muskrat, beavers, moose, dozens of songbird and waterfowl species, and more, it is also known breeding habitat for species at risk such as Rusty blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus), as well as being a scheduled salmon river for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).