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World Wetlands Day is February 2

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Help celebrate World Wetlands Day - make stormwater improvements on your property.

 

Benefits of local stormwater improvements, wetlands shared on social media, in local libraries for World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day observed locally, globally on February 2, 2019; Local landowners help provide water quality, quantity benefits with area projects

World Wetlands Day is observed around the planet on February 2 of each year. This global day is also a time for local efforts to promote the value of wetlands and other stormwater improvements. Ausable Bayfield Conservation has launched a social media information campaign leading up to 2019 World Wetlands Day. Conservation educators are also sharing the benefits of wetlands through programs at Bayfield and Seaforth libraries.

The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is Wetlands and Climate Change. Wetlands provide many benefits including capture of carbon. Only two per cent of the Ausable Bayfield area is wetlands. This makes wetland restoration, and other stormwater management improvements, vital for water, soil, habitat, and adaptation to weather extremes, according to staff of Ausable Bayfield Conservation. 

There are many stormwater improvement projects landowners can do. Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff can help with technical advice and grants with funding support from the Urban and Rural Stormwater Improvements (URSI) for Lake Huron Project and the Healthy Headwaters Wetlands Initiative. Landowners in the area have been adding and enhancing wetlands for more than a decade with support of local wetlands programs. You are invited to visit www.abca.ca or phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 to find out more or to talk to staff about a site visit. 

Wetlands are often considered “nature’s kidneys.” Kidneys remove impurities and waste from the human body. Wetlands do the same for land and water. Wetlands are vital natural systems that reduce erosion and flooding and filter sediment and pollutants from water and recharge groundwater supplies. That means wetlands help with water quality and water quantity. They help to store and filter water when there is too much water on the landscape and they help to release water during droughts and times of water shortage when that water is needed.

World Wetlands Day is a perfect time to thank area people who have completed local wetland projects or have natural wetlands on their property, according to staff. They also say it is a perfect time to encourage landowners to consider wetlands and other stormwater improvements. World Wetlands Day is observed on February 2, 2019 to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people here in Canada and around the world. To learn more visit www.abca.ca and www.worldwetlandsday.org or use the #WorldWetlandsDay hashtag at Twitter.com.

Young people to learn about wetlands in Bayfield, Seaforth libraries

World Wetlands Day is approaching and conservation educators from Ausable Bayfield Conservation invite local young people to “celebrate the importance of wetlands” at Bayfield Public Library on Friday, February 1, 2019. Bayfield Public Library is located at 18 Main Street North in Bayfield, Ontario. The library invites you to “find out what a wetland is and discover what lives in them.” This interactive presentation on wetlands helps to answer questions such as, “Do we have wetlands in the Bayfield area?” The program is for young people ages 5 to 12 and starts at 3:45 p.m. and runs for about an hour. This is a free program with a nature craft. Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation has funded this program. Parents or guardians of interested children need to register with the library.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation is also hosting a Backyard Nature event at Seaforth Public Library, on Friday, February 1, 2019 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. This program is geared towards families and the program is funded by Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation. Seaforth Library is located at 108 Main Street South, Seaforth, Ontario. The library invites you to “join the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority to explore the wonders of nature that can be found in one’s own backyard!” 
To learn more about the library programs visit https://www.huroncounty.ca and https://www.abca.ca

What are wetlands?

Wetlands are areas of land that are wet for all or a portion of the year. Wetlands tend to have soils that drain poorly and support water-loving plants such as Cattails, Sedges, Rushes, Blue Flag Iris, Willows, and Dogwoods. In addition to water quality and water quantity benefits, and capture of carbon, wetlands provide habitat for wildlife including birds, frogs, deer, and waterfowl.

Wetlands offer benefits to local people

Wetlands have many benefits locally. 

Projects by local landowners help to protect existing wetlands and create new ones.

Wetlands provide many benefits to both natural areas and the landowner. Wetlands have the ability to absorb and store water during storm or flood events as well as release needed water during drier times. This helps to reduce damage from both flooding and droughts. Wetlands filter water and that helps to remove contaminants. 

Wetlands:

Provide water storage.
Store carbon.
Replenish groundwater supplies.
Protect and improve water quality by acting as a natural filter for water running off of roads, lawns, fields, and parking lots. (Runoff can carry pollutants such as harmful chemicals and bacteria – and wetlands help to manage that runoff.)
Reduce flooding and erosion by holding water, slowing down the heavy surface flows, and leading to less soil erosion.
Protect habitat for ducks and other waterfowl as well as more than 600 species of plants and animals. 
Offer many recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, canoeing, or photography.
Having wetlands on your property or within your community can lower infrastructure and maintenance costs and increase property values. 

Less than five per cent of pre-settlement wetlands in Southwestern Ontario exist today.

Technical advice, grants for stormwater improvements is made possible with funding support from partners

Local landowners have completed more than 69 wetland projects in the Ausable Bayfield area, thanks to Healthy Headwaters. The support of funding partners and participating landowners has restored more than 244 acres of local wetlands and resulted in the planting of native plants on another 485 acres of riparian and fragile lands. Local elementary and secondary school students, and volunteers, have also helped with this work. Local landowners have planted more than 297,478 trees, shrubs and plants into wet areas and watercourse buffers, in addition to establishing wetlands. Staff with Ausable Bayfield Conservation restored 3.3 acres of wetlands in 2018 through the Healthy Headwaters program.

Local technical advice and grant support for local wetlands, and other stormwater improvements, is made possible thanks to funding partners.

The Government of Canada announced $100,000, in EcoAction Community Funding Program, to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, in 2018, for a three-year project that helps urban and rural landowners to make stormwater improvements that benefit Lake Huron. New wetlands and other stormwater improvements made possible through this funding are helping to fight and adapt to climate change. The Canadian EcoAction Community Funding, for the Urban and Rural Stormwater Improvements (URSI) for Lake Huron Project, is making it possible to work with rural and urban landowners in our area to complete on-the-ground projects that improve stormwater management and help to protect Lake Huron.

The local stormwater improvements made in the project should hold back more than 80 kilograms per year of potential pollutants in order to reduce impacts on Lake Huron. The project plans to improve and stabilize more than six hectares of shoreline; implement management and restoration actions in more than eight hectares; and plant more than 10,000 native plants, trees and shrubs. About 2,500 people will be engaged in activities related to the stormwater improvements project. Hundreds of student volunteers will be taking part in planting events or educational activities. There are economic benefits as well through projects completed and jobs created.

The funding support is making it possible to complete nine stormwater improvement projects between 2018 and 2020 in Ausable Bayfield watersheds along Lake Huron’s southeast shore. The stormwater improvement projects include creation of water retention areas at the edge of agricultural fields, wetland enhancement, and riparian plantings on the banks of creeks, drains, and rivers. The local project also educates community members about making stormwater management improvements on their properties. The funding will also make it possible to create a community rain garden.

Funding partners in local wetlands projects have also included Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund; Ducks Unlimited Canada; Ontario Trillium Foundation; RBC Blue Water Project; Environment Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund; Enbridge; Lake Huron – Georgian Bay Framework for Community Action; Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk; and others.
 

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