Ducks Unlimited Canada has acquired one of the few remaining coastal wetlands on Lake St. Clair in southwestern Ontario, just south of Mitchell’s Bay.
Ducks Unlimited Canada officials say the acquisition is a decisive conservation success that ensures the long-term protection of habitat in a critical region for migrating waterfowl and other birds.
“Years of effort are behind this conservation success,” stated Karla Guyn, CEO of Ducks Unlimited Canada, in a media release.
“Protecting a wetland as significant as St. Luke’s Marsh is deeply rewarding, and it’s only possible with committed partners and supporters whose vision for a healthy future matches ours, to protect and restore waterfowl habitats which are part of the natural infrastructure that underpins Ontario’s working landscape.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada officials say St. Luke’s Marsh is 488 acres (197 hectares) and includes coastal shoreline, provincially significant coastal wetlands, and other mixed wildlife habitats.
The marsh is adjacent to the publicly owned, 882-acre (357-hectare) St. Clair National Wildlife Area, which shelters more than 60 species of birds and 35 federally listed Species at Risk such as king rail, least bittern and eastern foxsnake.
These habitats also support migrating monarch butterflies.
Lake St. Clair is in a priority region for conservation where Ducks Unlimited Canada has invested in restoring and managing wetland projects since the 1970s. Research conducted by Ducks Unlimited Canada shows that all but 1.5 per cent of wetland habitats around the lake have been converted to other land uses, Ducks Unlimited Canada officials say.
The lake is on the border between Ontario and Michigan, which connects two Great Lakes (Lake Huron and Lake Erie), and receives waters from major rivers—including the St. Clair River, Thames River, Sydenham River and Clinton River, which then pass to Lake Erie, making the health of this lake an important ecological goal for both Canada and the United States.
Permanent protection of ecologically precious lands requires strong partnership based in trust, Ducks Unlimited Canada added.
The St. Luke’s Marsh project is supported by the Government of Canada through the Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP), part of Canada’s Nature Fund.
“I would like to congratulate Ducks Unlimited Canada for its success in acquiring St. Luke’s Marsh, an ecological link between Canada and the United States,” stated Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“Wetlands provide clean water, flood mitigation, important wildlife habitat, and play an important role in the fight against climate change. It’s thanks to partners like Ducks Unlimited Canada, that we are working towards conserving a quarter of lands and a quarter of oceans in Canada by 2025.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada is participating through a generous bequest from the late Louise Gendron, and international contributors including Ducks Unlimited Inc., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies through the Fall Flights Initiative (including Ohio and Michigan which directly border Lake St. Clair).
This project is a clear demonstration of how a shared vision leverages a greater impact for conservation such as this once-in-a-lifetime conservation opportunity to protect the biodiversity at St. Luke’s Marsh, Ducks Unlimited Canada officials say.
Ducks Unlimited Canada officials say the purchase of St. Luke’s Marsh supports the Government of Canada’s target of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s lands by 2025 and its objectives for the recovery of wild species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).
St. Luke’s Marsh is one of 22 conservation properties held by Ducks Unlimited Canada within the Great Lakes watershed, accounting for almost 7,000 acres (2,833 hectares) of protected habitat.