Essex Region – On February 2, World Wetlands Day is recognized, and this year’s focus is a call to take action for wetlands. The Essex Region Conservation Authority is highlighting two significant wetland projects currently being undertaken to expand and improve wetland habitat in the Essex region.
At Hillman Marsh Conservation Area in Leamington, extensive repairs and reinforcements are being implemented to two wetland cells to increase resiliency in the containment systems, protecting the habitat against new-normal climate change impacts in the form of extreme, enduring high-water events on Lake Erie. Previously, the wetland was sheltered from heavy wave action by a long beach ridge. However, sustained record high water levels washed away the sand ridge and began to breach parts of the protective system of earthen dykes that retain water in the marsh habitat. A partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada and funding from the Province of Ontario secured the future of this rare and critically important coastal wetland.
Meanwhile, in Amherstburg, a new wetland is being created thanks to funding from the Amherstburg Community Foundation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and others. This approximately .75 acre wetland feature is located adjacent to Holiday Beach Conservation Area, expands on a Provincially Significant Wetland and features turtle habitat including constructed nesting areas and basking logs. This wetland is unique in that is comprises Phase One of the Holiday Beach Cycling Trail, and the excavated earth will ultimately be used to create topographical interest for the trail.
“Both of these wetland projects are important to help mitigate flooding, create habitat and improve water quality for Lake Erie,” said Tim Byrne, ERCA CAO. “Wetlands also have value as carbon sinks, and provide habitat for important species at risk. We are sincerely grateful to all partners who are investing in this type of important green infrastructure.”
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province in 1973, and governed by local municipalities to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario.