Collavino Family donates wetland habitat to ERCA to create Collavino Conservation Area

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Amherstburg – Thanks to a generous donation by the Collavino family, 150 acres of ecologically sensitive wetland habitat will be protected in perpetuity by the Essex Region Conservation Authority. The donation was finalized in early October and is a mix of wetland and floodplain within the Detroit River Area of Concern near the mouth of the Canard River in Amherstburg.

The property was purchased in 2005 as a farmland investment. It was previously owned by General Chemical which used it for salt brine extraction. There is currently a 10MW solar operation adjacent to the donated property that is non-intrusive to the surrounding lands.

“The wetland portion of this property was always intended to stay as a wetland and used for fishing, hiking, hunting, camping and various other activities by our family and friends,” explains Loris Collavino, whose family made the donation. “We have lived in River Canard since 1983 and greatly appreciate all the wildlife that call this area home. The wetland has remained undisturbed over the years and as such, the wildlife seems to thrive.  Being able to visit a property and see nature at its finest was something our family held near and dear to our hearts.”

This land is a Provincially Significant Wetland and Environmentally Significant Area. It also provides habitat for a number of Species at Risk, including the Blanding’s Turtle, Eastern Foxsnake, and Queensnake, to name just a few.

“The addition of this important habitat is incredibly beneficial for the Detroit River watershed,” said Tania Jobin, ERCA Chair. “Wetlands are critically important to mitigate flooding and the impacts of our changing climate, and we are honoured that the Collavino family put their trust in ERCA to ensure this new Conservation Area will be managed and protected for generations to come.” The wetland is also identified as a Priority Canadian Habitat Site in the Detroit River Area of Concern, and having it become a designated Conservation Area and restoring its biological function brings the AOC one step closer to remediation.

The Collavino family notes they have worked with ERCA many times before on various projects and appreciate the work it does for conservation and rehabilitation of natural areas throughout Windsor and Essex County.  “We felt that the wetland, with ERCA’s expertise and handling, could become an even better site that would be greatly enjoyed by the public, similar to Hillman Marsh, Holiday Beach and other sites ERCA protects throughout this region,” Mr. Collavino added.  “We are very proud of our community and felt that this site would be another destination that people would want to visit when coming to Amherstburg.”

A wetland restoration and management plan has been developed to ensure appropriate protective measures are in place for this sensitive area. Earlier this year, as discussions regarding this donation were underway, a prescribed burn to control invasive Phragmites was undertaken, and additional management initiatives were completed to restore this wetland to a healthy ecosystem.

“While the lands are currently being managed for habitat, future plans include adding a parking area to permit public enjoyment of this beautiful wetland,” said Tim Byrne, ERCA CAO. “A mowed pathway around the dyked area will provide a 2.2 kilometre walking path, and educational signage will be installed. We are so grateful to the Collavino family for this generous gift to the entire community.”

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province in 1973, and governed by local municipalities to deliver programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region.

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