Long Point Crown Marsh Restoration Project, 2015-16

Final Report: Long Point Crown Marsh Restoration Project, 2015-16

Goals and Objectives

This project is part of ongoing work commenced in 2004 to restore open water wetland communities in the Long Point Crown Marsh (LPCM).

The 2015-16 project will involve two distinct activities that directly complement each other:

  • New restoration of native communities and open water habitat through the control of Common Reed, Phragmites australis (Phrag) using OMNRF’s Best Management Practices document. Phrag outcompetes native vegetation, colonizes and overtakes open water areas and has a measurable role in lowering static water levels in wetlands. This method involves an herbicide treatment during dry season by a licensed contractor, followed by rolling and/or cutting of standing dead Phrag and a final prescribed burn treatment to destroy existing seed heads and scarify the site for establishment of native vegetation communities. In areas, where favourable conditions exist and it is deemed necessary, heavy equipment will be used to scrape away the organic layer containing Phrag rhizomes and a new open water community will be created.
  • Maintenance of existing restoration sites completed over the past 10 years. It is imperative that follow-up maintenance be completed at past restoration sites in order to protect the ecological and financial investment made to date. Using similar methodology to that proposed above, candidate sites will receive an herbicide treatment, followed by a rolling and burning of killed stems during the appropriate timing windows and using only qualified contractors. MNRF’s rigorous process for implementing prescribed burns on Crown land will be employed ensuring the appropriate ecological and safety measures are in place. A second and equally important maintenance aspect of this project is to ensure that historical hydrology regimes are maintained.

The goals of this project are:

  • To restore and maintain hydrologic function to degraded LPCM
  • To restore open water wetland communities in historical areas
  • To maintain existing open water communities and prevent invasion from Phragmites australis

Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

WHC’s continued support of this project will result in at least 20 acres/8 hectares of invasive Phragmites australis controlled restoring native open water habitats and an additional 30acres/12 hectares of open water communities protected for the long term through peripheral control efforts. Priority stands have already been identified by MNRF staff in close proximity to existing remnant and recently restored open water communities. These areas are targeted in order to maximize the efficiency of granting funds; protecting past financial and ecological investment through ensuring this highly invasive plant does not recolonize areas that have been the focus of significant past restoration activities. Lastly, WHC funds will support the maintenance and enhancement of onsite hydrologic exchange through the clearing of existing access channels from accumulated sediment. It is anticipated that this work will cover at least 300m of channel.

Benefits to Waterfowl, Wetland-Associated Species, and/or Other Wildlife

Through controlling the unparalleled impacts of invasive species such as Phragmites australis as well as ensuring hydrologic function is maintained and improved within the Long Point Crown Marsh, this project serves as an example for coastal wetland restoration across the lower Great Lakes. The direct correlation between habitat quality, availability and suitability will have a measurable impact on the dozens of species of waterfowl and wetland dependent species that migrate through Long Point annually and use the LPCM as invaluable stopover habitat.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

The LPCM Rehabilitation Project has led the way in fostering new wetland restoration techniques based upon science and monitored under the premise of adaptive management for other coastal marshes within the Long Point Coastal Wetland Complex and beyond. The current construction technique is now employed by other marsh managers. In keeping with the mindset of leading the way in wetland restoration practices, this year’s project will provide a sound example for local marsh managers to learn from in controlling the biggest threat to local coastal wetlands, Phragmites australis. By showcasing OMNRF’s Best Management Practices in a publicly-accessible coastal wetland, the project will highlight an approach that directly complements open water community establishment by ensuring a long term increase in open water habitats. The end result is improved habitat interspersion, increased native vegetation in wetlands, greater habitat and food availability throughout the season and long term protection for these invaluable communities. This project will be featured as part of an upcoming Long Point Community Conservation Practitioners forum in 2015-16 with a focus of sharing results and lessons learned for transfer to other marsh managers in the lower Great Lakes.

Project Location

  1. Province/Territory: Ontario
  2. Municipality / county / town / city: Norfolk County, Port Rowan
  3. Landscape type: Great Lakes Coastal Marsh
  4. Other relevant information about the location:

The LPCM is a 1650 acre Great Lakes coastal marsh situated on the north side of Long Point in Lake Erie. It is within the Long Point Marshes Complex and is one of the most important coastal marshes on the Great Lakes. It is a significant part of the UNESCO designated Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, designated a Canadian Important Bird Area and a Provincially Significant Wetland.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Jim Malcolm, Past-President LPWA, Chair – Crown Marsh Restoration Committee, Port Rowan, ON.