Long Point Crown Marsh (LPCM) Restoration Project

Final Project Report: Long Point Crown Marsh (LPCM) Restoration Project, 2013-14

Goals and Objectives

The project is part of a much larger ongoing project commenced in 2004 to restore open water wetland
communities. This is being accomplished through the creation of new open water areas that will
increase the health, diversity and quality (e.g. water quality, vegetation and animal community and
human values) of the LPCM  (see Badzinski et al. 2006 attached and 2012 NAWMP).

This project will involve the construction of two new open water wetland communities. Their locations
are identified in the images at Section 6)  MAP  as  sites 1 and 2. The open water wetland communities
will be 10-12 acres in size with a variable water depth averaging 2 feet. Sites are currently seasonally
wet, cattail and Phragmites mono-cultures. Nesting islands and irregular perimeters will be created in
each open water area to maximize edge habitat . All open water wetland communities will be connected
to inner Long Point Bay via sinuous channels. This will provide water circulation/translocation, fish
access and take advantage of Lake Erie`s seiches, high water and storm events.

Approximately 2 feet of substraight will be scraped by bulldozer from a hard-pan sand base. This
technique has been used since 2009. It is now widely recognized as the most cost efficient and
effective method of wetland restoration to create large open water wetland communities. Spoil material
will be dispersed by feathering it out (wide broadcast of organic substraight) within adjacent cattail.
This organic material breaks down, settles, and returns nutrients to the surrounding marsh. It fans out
over time with seasonal inundation of the marsh.  This inhibits re-colonization of invasives
(e.g. Phragmites) and ensures the newly restored open water area remains open. A youth stewardship
group will replant any exposed soils with native species to discourage Phragmites re-colonization.

Specific Habitat Products/Results Supported by WHC’s Contributions

From 1999 to 2006, the LPCM`s percentage of open water declined from 24% to 8% of total marsh area.
WHC’s contribution will result in the creation of open water communities within cattail and Phragmites
mono-cultures thereby increasing the function of the marsh (i.e. creating a hemi-marsh of 50% open
water and 50% aquatic vegetation) and creating important breeding, staging and wintering habitat for
wetland dependent species.

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

In 2006, the LPWA funded a quantitative investigation into historic changes in habitat characteristics of the
marsh and other major wetland complexes at Long Point (see Badzinski 2007 and Badzinski et al. 2006).
Dr. Badzinski noted substantial changes and fluctuations in the proportion of water, wetland vegetation,
and dry, built-up areas within the LPCM. He noted a reduction in open water areas relative to emergent
marsh vegetation. Accordingly, Dr. Badzinski reported sub-optimal marsh habitat conditions. These included
poor interspersion of open water and emergent marsh vegetation, reduction in depth and extent of water,
reduction in some aquatic foods, and increased prevalence of large, unbroken mono-cultures of cattail and
Phragmites. Dr. Badzinski concluded that this has reduced attractiveness of the marsh for birds and other
wetland-dependent wildlife. As a result, previous projects and the project currently proposed, have sought
to ameliorate this situation by creating open water areas where there are currently dense stands of cattail
and Phragmites. This will bring the marsh closer to a hemi-marsh state, the ideal habitat for waterfowl, other
migratory game birds and wetland-associated species. The ponds created will have irregular perimeters &
islands to maximize edge habitat. Variable depths will encourage the recolonization of aquatic food plants.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

The single biggest direct contribution of this project and those already completed, to the science of wetland
habitat conservation/management is the construction technique. Developed through a science based, adaptive
management approach, it now serves as a template for Great Lakes coastal marsh rehabilitation for locations
with similar morphology and hydrology and where the regulatory regime permits (see Schummer et al.). It is
simple, highly cost effective and results in an almost immediate and dramatic habitat enhancement. As noted
above in this application, habitat interspersion is achieved by creating a mosaic of open water areas in large
unbroken tracts of cattail and/or Phragmites.

Project Location

Long Point Crown Marsh, Norfolk County, Ontario.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Jim Malcolm, President, Long Point Waterfowlers’
Association, Ontario.