The floating backhoe in these photos taken March 19 completed the breakup up of all the ice on the Rideau River just before spring melt, well upstream of Sandy Hill. Even though portages were necessary, the ice was eradicated in that long stretch of the river, which has not happened in at least 30 years.
While muddy iceless waters may be a welcome harbinger of spring, due to the backhoe’s clawing and crawling, shallower areas of the riverbed were gouged and dredged, which will almost certainly have a devastating effect on aquatic life. As one resident wrote to our councillor, “It seems to us there is a high probability that any aquatic life hibernating on the riverbed has been killed by the machine – of special concern are the very large turtles which we see in the river every spring.”
— Judy Rinfret