Visitors at Cooper Marsh Conservation Area in South Glengarry will be able to witness a start-to-finish grassland restoration project, as the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) is currently restoring a former hayfield located in the eastern edge of the Marsh near County Road 2.
“Over time, this area became overrun with non-grassland and invasive species, which significantly undermined habitat quality” says RRCA Stewardship Coordinator, Jessica Herrington.
The RRCA recently mowed the site and will be preparing the soil this fall through deep tilling prior to seeding it with a mix of native grasses selected in consultation with community and indigenous partners.
“Beside providing habitat for threatened species such as the bobolink and eastern meadowlark, grasslands can deliver ecological benefits such as encouraging pollination by providing bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with steady sources of nectar, mitigating the effects of climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon, and supporting biodiversity by offering habitat, shelter, and food to a wide range of species,” adds Herrington.
The grassland restoration work is part of the Cooper Marsh Biodiversity Project, a multi-year effort by the RRCA aimed at protecting and enhancing the Marsh’s rich biodiversity through initiatives such as habitat planting and enhancement, invasive species control, biodiversity monitoring, and outreach. This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, a Government of Canada’s Department of Environment and Climate Change program in partnership with Conservation Ontario. Funding was also awarded by Ontario Power Generation.
Cooper Marsh Conservation Area is nestled on the picturesque north shore of the St. Lawrence River, a few minutes’ drive from South Lancaster. The 663-acre wetland is home to a rich variety of plant and animal species and is part of the larger Charlottenburgh Marsh – one of the most significant wetlands in all of Ontario. The RRCA actively maintains, enhances, and restores this natural area, which also features viewing blinds and towers, and a five-kilometre system of boardwalks and nature trails.
Property owners looking to establish, enhance, or maintain their own grasslands within the RRCA’s jurisdiction in Cornwall and surrounding area of SDG could now qualify for funding up to 100 percent of their project’s cost, thanks to a new grassland stewardship service offered by the RRCA through a partnership with Grasslands Ontario. The initiative complements other RRCA stewardship programs designed to enhance forest cover, improve water quality, and conserve and restore sensitive ecological habitat. Interested property owners are encouraged to contact Jessica Herrington at Jessica.Herrington@rrca.on.ca or (613) 938-3611 ext. 228.