Wetland Projects Restore Habitat and Provide a Nature Based Solution to Nutrient Management

The Essex Region Conservation Authority has been actively restoring a 32 acre restoration project in the Lebo Creek watershed, located in south east Leamington. The restoration initiatives focus on a variety of habitat types including forest, riparian and wetlands. Wetlands are integral to the health of the Windsor Essex region. They provide clean and abundant water and support a rich diversity of wildlife and plant life. They protect from flooding and reduce the effects of climate change. Wetlands are very sensitive ecosystems, with over 90% lost over time in Windsor-Essex. Intact wetlands are under pressure from land use changes, invasive species, pollution and climate change. ERCA is working to protect and restore wetland habitat and the important ecological functions they provide.

In 2019, the Solcz Family Foundation partnered with Essex Region Conservation to provide unique educational opportunities for local youth to explore their environment and to learn about the importance of restoring and sustaining habitat. During 2019, more than 800 students planted over 2,500 trees at a former farm field in Leamington. Additionally, more than 100 secondary school students gained an enhanced level of environmental education on tree planting, restoration and leadership skills. In 2021, this project continues with further fall tree planting opportunities for community groups, youth, students, families, businesses and volunteers to plant 575 trees to further increase biodiversity at the Solcz Family Foundation Forest. Additional partnership events that have taken place at this location include TD Tree Day events and Lake Erie Guardians planting wetland vegetation with Water Rangers, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative and the Gordon Foundation. In total, since the community based restoration efforts began 3,725 native trees and shrubs have been planted!

Landowners living on or around the Sydenham River and its tributaries can help improve aquatic habitat and water quality by restoring and/or conserving marginal land. Allowing vegetation and trees to grow along watercourses can provide shade to keep water temperatures cool, provide a buffer from adjacent land use, and retain excess soils and nutrients. Grassed waterways and erosion control berms in agricultural fields can further reduce soil and nutrient runoff while wetlands can mitigate flooding and allow water to return to the watercourse at a slower rate.

SCRCA stewardship staff and a local landowner recently completed a wetland in a fallow field, adjacent to a sloping active crop field. The stepped wetland was designed to accommodate the slope of the land and receive overland runoff from the adjacent farm field as well as water from a tile outlet. Sediment and nutrient-rich water flow into the top tier wetland, which serves more as a sediment trap, collecting sediment and nutrients and allowing them to settle out. Within a year, cattails have already begun to establish on their own. Native aquatic vegetation, like cattails, are a natural wonder! They are able to remove nutrients and chemicals from the water by absorption, sequestration, and in some cases, transforming them into less harmful molecules. Displayed in the picture below is the upper tier wetland (active farm field overland runoff and tile outlet flows into foreground of photo).  If you are interested in a wetland on your property for habitat or to improve water quality, contact your local CA representative.

 

Take a Virtual Tour of the Essex County Demonstration Farm:

Did you know that Essex Region Conservation Authority has a working Demonstration Farm adjacent to Holiday Beach Conservation Area? If you haven’t had the chance to visit in person, take a virtual tour here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBzCkJbl-8w.

 

 

 

 

 

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If you are interested in a stewardship project on your property and are not sure where to start or what financial opportunities exist, contact your local Conservation Authority! We work with landowners to implement wetlands, windbreaks, block plantings, land retirement activities, native prairie grass planting, erosion control structures and other conservation projects. If you are interested in a stewardship project on your land or have an innovative idea for a best management practice, please contact one of the Conservation Authority representatives below.

Essex Region Lower Thames Valley St. Clair Region
Michael Dick, Agricultural Technician Colin Little, Agricultural Program Coordinator Jessica VanZwol, Healthy Watershed Specialist
519-776-5209 ext. 369 519-354-7310 ext. 231 519-245-3710 ext. 241
mdick@erca.org Colin.Little@ltvca.ca jvanzwol@scrca.on.ca
essexregionconservation.ca lowerthames-conservation.on.ca www.scrca.on.ca

 

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