About 10 kilometres north of Hearst, Ont. is one of the largest wetland projects Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has ever undertaken in Ontario, but few would even know it exists. Located near Lac Ste. Thérèse, this wetland is the pride and joy of Gilles Guindon, who owns the property adjacent to it and is passionate about protecting the habitat of several species who call it home.
The wetland was originally created by beavers that regularly dammed the watercourse. In 1991, DUC reinforced the 31-acre (12.5-hectare) wetland, building a water control structure to maintain water levels. With time, the structure began to show signs of deterioration, so the new landowner, Guindon, turned to DUC for help. The function of the wetland was assessed and determined it was due for a rebuild.
“We rely on landowners like Gilles to flag issues and alert us,” says DUC project engineer Graham Janson. “The water control structure wasn’t functioning properly and needed to be replaced. The 70-metre-long earth berm needed some upgrades to improve the function of the wetland and safety of the structure.”
This place means a lot to me and my family. We love to hunt here, snowshoe, hike and four-wheel and we see all kinds of wildlife from beavers to martens, ducks, moose and deer. It’s great.
Funded through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the project required the co-ordination of equipment, personnel and time management. Located back in the bush, excavators were carefully brought onto the site and a work area was created using metal sheet pile to hold the water back while the existing structure was removed and the new one installed. While the design and preparation took months, the construction work took only about five days to complete. The work will keep the wetland intact while improving the quality of water that feeds into Lac Ste. Thérèse. The result is a source of pride for Guindon.
“Working with DUC was something new for me,” says Guindon. “I was glad to see the culvert repaired. It was rotting and no longer doing the job it was designed for. This place means a lot to me and my family. We love to hunt here, snowshoe, hike and four-wheel and we see all kinds of wildlife from beavers to martens, ducks, moose and dear. It’s great.”
While wetlands remain under threat in most of southern Ontario, the province’s vast northern region is fortunate to have wetlands in abundance. There aren’t the same pressures to drain them for the purposes of development or agriculture. Yet, what remains must still be protected, which is why DUC carries out wetland rebuilds like this one.
DUC conservation specialist Mikayla Stinson says the fact the north is blessed with numerous wetlands is something to applaud, and DUC will continue to construct or rebuild wetlands in the north whenever opportunities arise.
“Southern Ontario is where habitat fragmentation and wetland losses are happening,” she says. “Luckily, that’s not the case in northern Ontario. We will pursue any opportunities to construct or rebuild in the north, whenever and wherever possible.”
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