Leeds Community Pasture – East Pasture Wetland Restoration – Phase 2, 2015-16
Goals and Objectives
Leeds-Grenville Stewardship Council (LGSC) has been coordinating efforts by Leeds County farmers, farm organizations and the Leeds Community Pasture Association to exclude cattle from the upper reaches of the Gananoque River Watershed, which feeds the St Lawrence River, to improve water quality. The rationale has been to decrease nutrient loading into the headwaters to decrease phosphorus loadings and improve dissolved oxygen in the streams and lakes of the system, including Charleston, Upper Beverley and Lower Beverley.
The goals of this project are:
- Reduction of phosphorus loading into the wetland (To exclude some 500 cattle from the natural springs and wetlands in the East Pasture)
- Creation of demonstration area for local farmers
Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions
Clearing area for fencing and installing continuous exclusion fencing around one of the Wetlands will protect 130.6 acres – which includes 93.4 acres of woodlot and 37.2 acres ofwetland. This will result in a reduction of phosphorus loading.
Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetland-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife
- This project (over three years) will protect and restore 156 acres of wetlands that are important for waterfowl staging, nesting and feeding. Year 1 (2014-15) resulted in the protection/restoration of 80.4 acres – 23.2 of woodland and 57.2 acres of wetlands. Year 2 will protect an additional 130.6 acres including 37 acres of wetlands.
- These areas are “working lands” owned by the Association of Community Pastures and managed locally. This project is a good example of a voluntary integration of conservation of wetlands and hence waterfowl into a working landscape
- Protection of the wetlands eliminates inputs of phosphorus and nitrogen into the headwaters of a large eastern Ontario watershed and will improve water quality along its length.
- The fencing of cattle from the wetlands and extra fencing allows for rotational grazing of cattle, which will ensure long-term environmental sustainability of the pasturelands and will allow the natural restoration of the wetlands and associated springs.
- The exclusion of cattle will ensure there is no conflict with nesting waterfowl and should enhance nesting success and increase survival rates. Improved water quality would enhance food supplies for waterfowl.
Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management
Direct influences on wetland habitat conservation, land and water planning, habitat management and use, etc. include:
- 156 acres of wetlands conserved from inundation by cattle
- A decrease in phosphorus and nitrogen into the headwaters of the Gananoque River watershed
Indirect influences include:
- local farmers learning the best management practices for wetland protection on their home farms
This project is located in Athens, Ontario and is being conducted on pasture, woodland and wetland habitat.
For more information on this project, please contact Karen Brown, Chair, Leeds Grenville Stewardship Council, Brockville, ON.