RRCA expanding areas of open water habitat at Cooper Marsh

Cooper Marsh.

SDG COUNTIES, Ontario - The Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) is improving wildlife habitat at Cooper Marsh Conservation Area by creating additional open water spaces within the marsh’s main impoundment. Work is expected to wrap up up by March 15, 2024.

“New ponds and channels will enhance habitat diversity at Cooper Marsh, ensuring that this Conservation Area continues to serve as a haven for a wide range of species,” said RRCA Stewardship Specialist Brendan Jacobs. “Areas of open water in wetlands can provide sources of food and shelter and are particularly helpful to waterfowl species, such as the blue-winged teal, redhead, wood duck, and many others. This habitat enhancement will also lead to increased opportunities for visitors to view wildlife in a natural environment from the Marsh’s Green Trail boardwalk.” 

Scheduling the excavation of new open water areas by heavy machinery during the winter minimizes potential disturbances to wildlife while also improving working conditions and cost efficiencies. All necessary permits have been acquired by the RRCA. 

This habitat improvement work is one of the latest components of the RRCA’s Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project, a multi-year biodiversity enhancement effort. This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, a Government of Canada’s Department of Environment and Climate Change program in partnership with Conservation Ontario. Funding was also awarded by Ontario Power Generation.

“Other enhancements being achieved through this project include restoring grassland habitat, seeding a native aquatic plant species, mapping and removing invasive plants, installing artificial nesting structures, and planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers,” said Jacobs. 

In addition, significant upgrades to the system of ring dykes and pumps responsible for maintaining ideal wetland habitat conditions at the marsh have been taking place since the fall of 2022 thanks to funding secured by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). This restoration project is set to be completed in the summer of 2024. Select trails are closed at the marsh while work is in progress.

Located on the St. Lawrence River’s north shore in South Glengarry, Cooper Marsh is one of RRCA’s three conservation areas, along with Charlottenburgh Park and Gray’s Creek. In all, the RRCA currently conserves and maintains 1,863 acres of environmentally-significant land to preserve ecologically sensitive habitat, increase tree cover, maintain green infrastructure for natural hazard resilience, and provide recreation and eco-tourism opportunities.