Winter restoration work on the Hutton Creek Marsh is now complete to the delight of the many dedicated partners who made the project possible.
This work completes Phase 2 of a long-term project to bring the provincially significant wetland near Lombardy back to a more natural, productive state. Over the years, the provincially significant wetland located near Lombardy had become a monoculture: choked and overgrown with cattails. Only 10 per cent of the marsh was open water which had negative impacts on its biology, ecology and hydrology.
Hutton Creek Marsh is an amazing sample of Ontario’s provincially significant wetlands. This 300-hectare marsh found upstream of the Motts Mills Berm is part of the much larger Otter Lake – Hutton Creek Wetland Complex which covers 722 hectares. Five individual wetlands make up a palustrine wetland complex, meaning there is a permanent flow of surface water into the wetland from various creeks and out below the Motts Mills Berm into Hutton Creek and on downstream to the Rideau River.
In 2015, the nearby Motts Mills Dam was decommissioned and replaced with an earthen berm. In 2017, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) lowered local water levels to help staff study the wetland and determine the best way to address the crowded cattails. In 2019, work began to increase the open water features of the marsh. Crews looked to build 1.5 acres of open water ponds and add 500 metres of channels to help return the wetland to a healthier hemi-marsh state (50 per cent vegetation and 50 per cent open water).
These improvements will support increased diversity for various plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and turtles. This healthier water-to-vegetation ratio is also ideal for waterfowl. Creating more open water will also restore local access for paddling and hunting. It is hoped that the diversity and abundance of species will return to what was in the 1970s and 1980s.
Some final work will be done this in the coming months to add habitat structures, distribute vegetation seeds and plant water-loving shrubs at the construction site.
Special thanks to the dedicated group of local stakeholders and funders who made this project possible including Ducks Unlimited Canada, Leeds and Grenville Stewardship Council, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone F, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville (UCLG), Wildlife Habitat Canada, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.