Protection of Wetlands in the Ottawa Valley, Bristol and Clarendon 2010-11

Goals and Objectives

This project represents phase II of the project entitled “Protection of Wetlands in the Ottawa Valley, Bristol and Clarendon Areas” (Project #1.2.1ad-09/10).

The goal of this project is to continue the protection of wetlands and riparian areas containing waterfowl and species habitat associated with them through direct interventions with private landowners. The project will permit the continuation of our contribution within the EHJV’s “protection” category.

The emphasis of our conservation objectives will be carried out in the priority areas of Clarendon and Bristol and will consist of:
1.  Protecting wetlands and riparian areas by legal commitments, especially the acquisition of property titles;
2.  Establishing management measures on the protected sites;
3.  Developing partnerships with local hunters for managing the protected areas;
4.  Establishing a management fund in order to ensure the conservation, in perpetuity, of the protected sites.


In order to conclude our objectives, certain activities will be carried out in the continuity of those that were undertaken last year.
• Canvassing
• Targeting the landowners to be contacted within the two priority areas
• Negotiating with the landowners
• Ecological characterization of the targeted properties
• Acquisition of the Properties
• Land evaluations of the targeted properties
• Professional management for the acquisition of the areas (notary, surveyor…)
• Signing of the properties
• Management of the Protected Properties
• Meeting with the hunters and other users on the protected areas
• Collecting information on the use of the protected properties
• Drafts of ecological follow-ups and stewardship annual reports
• Establishing a management fund for the protection in perpetuity

Specific Habitat Products/Results to be Supported by WHC’s Contributions

The funding from Wildlife Habitat Canada will, again this year, go to direct, on the ground interventions oriented towards the protection of habitats. Protected areas will be managed in partnership with the users which are hunters and management plans will be developed to ensure the monitoring of the ecological characteristics.

The results to which Wildlife Habitat Canada’s financial support will contribute during the 2010-2011 fiscal year will be:
1.  Direct negotiations with 10 landowners having wetlands within the two priority areas;
2.  Ecological characterization of 3 properties containing waterfowl habitat;
3.  Protection of 3 properties having waterfowl habitat (100 hectares of wetlands protected);
4.  Signing and renewal of 4 agreements with hunters or a group of hunters having activities on the protected properties;
5.  Completion of 3 ecological follow-ups and stewardship annual reports. These documents represent the implementation of the management plans carried out in the 2009-2010 project.
6. Establishing a management fund dedicated to the protection, in perpetuity, of the 3 protected properties.

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

The results of this project will directly permit the protection of waterfowl habitat. The species of waterfowl that will benefit and which are confirmed in these two areas are Canada Geese, Brant Goose, Wood Duck, Black Duck, Mallard Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Loon, Ring-necked Duck, and Pied-billed Grebe. More comprehensive inventories would certainly enable adding more species to this list.

In addition to these species are several species associated with aquatic environments, such as the Great Blue Heron, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, Marouette Carolina, Gallinule, Kildeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Kingfisher of America and others. In all, 110 species of nesting birds have been identified in the two priority areas.

These areas also include several important wildlife habitats identified by the MRNF, notably areas containing White-tailed Deer covering almost half of the two areas, an area of concentration of aquatic birds, a Tern colony, four colonies of Ring-billed Gulls, four Heronries totaling more than 75 nests, eight Muskrat habitats, fish habitat, as well as the habitats of at least 15 endangered wildlife species. The area also includes several nesting sites of the Least Bittern, a threatened species in Canada.

In addition, these priority areas are particularly rich in amphibians and reptiles. There, one can find the only populations known in Quebec of the Blanding’s Turtle and Musk Turtle, two threatened species in Canada, the most important population of geographical turtle in Quebec, a species of special concern in Canada, and the only mentions of Thin Snake in Quebec, a species of special concern in Canada. The few fish inventories carried out between Portage-du-Fort and Quyon identified 32 species, including Lake Sturgeon, a disappearing species in Canada and the River Redhorse, a species of special concern in Canada.

This is clearly an exceptionally rich environment that requires special and rapid attention to ensure the protection of this natural jewel.

Relevance to Habitat Planning, Decision Making and/or Management

This project fits into the Ottawa Valley Natural Area Conservation Plan which is based on concrete actions for five years that are oriented towards the protection of natural environments. Among the actions in which the NCC is involved in completing is the protection of 1,000 hectares of wetlands between now and 2012 in the area upstream of the city of Ottawa. To achieve this goal, the NCC must join with partners who have at heart, the protection of these habitats. If Wildlife Habitat Canada wants to know more about the protection and management activities in this Conservation Plan, a copy can be provided.

The protected areas in the Clarendon and Bristol areas will be part of the Grand Marais Wildlife Refuge, an expensive project of the MRNF since 1996. The first step towards the creation of this refuge is the acquisition of properties to hold a core of lands on which the MRNF may introduce a specific law for the creation of the Wildlife Refuge. Some of the properties acquired by the NCC will be transferred to this department, while retaining a conservation easement to ensure the protection in perpetuity. Any other landowner may also sign a partnership agreement with the MRNF enabling it to apply the Wildlife Refuge regulations on their land. Due to the anticipated hunting and fishing activities in the Wildlife Refuge project, the site should be a part of the category IV of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The main objectives of managing the areas are the preservation of the species and biodiversity, as well as the maintenance of ecological functions.

The NCC will continue its efforts with the view of acquiring other parcels of natural environments belonging to private landowners in the two priority areas. The NCC already has their names and addresses and has been pursuing these approaches for 4 years.

Project Location

The project will take place on private lands in the Ottawa Valley (Ottawa River watershed), ecoregions of plains with mixed forests. The natural area of the Ottawa Valley is formed by the physiographical whole of the plain of the Grand Calumet and Allumettes Islands (B0301) and the clayey Gatineau lowlands (B0302). It is located at the extreme north-west of the natural areas of the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain Lowlands and forms a narrow band between the municipalities of Sheenboro to the west and Grenville-sur-la Rouge to the east. This band is bounded to the south by the Ottawa River and to the north by the Canadian Shield which forms several kilometres of rocky cliffs. The natural area of the southern Laurentians is thus a topographic border more or less well marked with the plain. The total area of the natural area is 223,573 hectares, equivalent to 7.03% of the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain Lowlands and represents 5% of the total area of the administrative region of the Ottawa Valley, more specifically in the Regional Municipal County of Pontiac, Des Collines in the Ottawa Valley, and the urban communities of Gatineau and Papineau. The relief takes the shape of a slightly undulating plain, interspersed with some hills. The latter are found especially in areas along the Canadian Shield, on the northern edge of the area, where some hilltops reach 250 metres. The average altitude (115 metres) is much lower than the areas located to the north. The average altitudinal amplitude is very low and less than 30 metres.

Two Priority Areas:
The protection of the lowlands in the municipalities of Bristol and Clarendon is a priority within the Ottawa Valley. These areas of over 60 square kilometres are located approximately 80 kilometres west of Ottawa and along the north shore of the Ottawa River.

The areas of Clarendon and the Grand Marais (large marsh) of Bristol are very unique with the presence of forest lands associated with limestone rock exposures, called alvars, many marshes and swamps, bays and wetlands in connection with the Ottawa River and forming a lake habitat that hosts several nesting sites for waterfowl. From the diversity and the extent of preserved natural environments covering more than 7,500 hectares, these areas provide an essential habitat for 13 endangered wildlife species. Among these, the most important populations known in Quebec are found – the Blanding’s Turtle and Musk Turtle. The richness of plants is also quite remarkable: 2 exceptional forest ecosystems and more than 30 endangered plant species represented in particular by important populations in Quebec of Ram’s Head Lady’s Slipper, a vulnerable species in Quebec, complementing the exceptional biodiversity picture of these natural environments.

Project Contact

For more information on this project, please contact Jade Georis, Projects Manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Montréal, QC.