Spotlight on Wetlands
In the 2013 Watershed Report Card, a stand-alone measurement of the wetland health in the watershed resulted in an F grade, reflecting the less than 1% wetland cover in the Kettle Creek watershed. To highlight the need for increased wetland cover, KCCA set a goal to increase the enhancement or restoration of existing wetlands, and the creation of new wetlands on local landowners’ properties throughout the watershed. These projects would be completed with the assistance of funding and incentives through our stewardship program over the next five years. Four wetland projects were completed in 2014 and 2015 and another five are scheduled for completion in 2016.
Wetlands are some of the most valuable and diverse ecosystems on Earth; they are the link between land and water. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, and other wildlife depend in some way on wetlands. These specialized habitats also play an important role in the ecological health of a watershed. Wetlands act like giant sponges during heavy rains, where they absorb excess water, limiting the effects of flooding. Wetland plants play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. They provide breeding and nursery sites, resting areas for migratory species, and refuge from predators. Decomposed plant matter (detritus) released into the water is an important food source for many invertebrates and fish both in the wetland and in associated aquatic systems.
To highlight these valuable habitats, Jennifer Dow, KCCA’s water conservation supervisor, made regular visits to a wetland that was created in 2014. The Clinton Wetland was created with financial and technical assistance provided by the Kettle Creek Clean Water Initiative, the Elgin Clean Water Program and Ducks Unlimited Canada. Just over one acre of marginal land, nestled between an agricultural field and a tributary of Dodd Creek was revitalized, transitioning from a dug pit into a vibrant and thriving wetland in just one year. The design incorporated shallow nursery and foraging areas, deeper water refuges, and several root wads and logs to provide cover and basking areas for wildlife.
I’m very happy with how the wetland project turned out—from start to finish it was a great experience! It was a very easy process to get the project funded and completed. KCCA staff worked with us to design and implement the project and it’s great that even when the project was complete, staff returned to monitor its success. We wouldn’t have been able to build the wetland without the funding and technical help from KCCA and I definitely look forward to working with them again.
I think that every landowner should look at their land and try to find ways to do this kind of project where landowners can enhance their property and benefit the environment. We are looking forward to camping out at the site with the kids this summer and enjoying the birds and frogs and other wildlife.