THE MARSH

Essex County has the distinction, among all of the counties in the Province, of being surrounded on three of its four sides by water. All three of these bodies of water are part of the Great Lakes system (an immense reservoir of fresh water). So as far as waterfront properties are concerned, we are fortunate to have a relative abundance of this in Essex County. Those of us who reside at Lake Erie Country Club have the further unprecedented, and likely unique, privilege of having waterfront on our south side and relatively undisturbed wetland marsh on our north side.

The marsh is a priceless jewel whose value increases with each passing year as flooding, global warming and polluted water supplies all become of greater and greater concern. Estimates are that more than 70% of wetlands in Southern Ontario have been destroyed through human habitation efforts, poor land use decisions and planning. Tax payer dollars are now being directed to the restoration of these valuable, life-sustaining environments. Ontario’s Environment Commissioner, as quoted in a Windsor Star article (April 06, 2019) stated, “Even a wetland as small as two hectares can retain water runoff from an area 70 times its size.” As the author of the same article writes, “Trees and wetlands are critical to flood mitigation. They store water during heavy rains, slow storm water runoff and reduce flood peaks.”

If one takes the opportunity to just sit and watch the marsh, you may be astounded by the activity there, seeing muskrats, ducks, fish, many different kinds of birds including waders (herons, egrets) and song birds in addition to the swans and geese. You may even encounter a frog, turtle or small snake. It is a calm, unhurried and unassuming environment. We are extremely fortunate to have it on our doorstep and it doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. Many of the waterfowl spend considerable time on land rearing their young; frogs of several varieties go through much of their life stages in the water but spend much of their adult time on dry land. Nor do the several breeds of turtles confine themselves to the limited definition of the marsh, coming onto the land in search of the ideal nesting sites critical to the continuation of their species. Even insects (such as dragonflies) require both the marsh and dry land to complete their life cycle.

We are the stewards of this rare environment and have an obligation to protect it from being torn up, filled in, used as a dumping ground, or paved over. This is recognized in the mission statement of the Board of Directors of LECC and was a value of previous generations, as evidenced by the many dilapidated piers that jut out into the marsh. We are able to enjoy the many environmental, health and psychological benefits of this special place. We must ensure that this same opportunity is passed on to our children and grandchildren.

Gloria Mitchell, Environmental Awareness Representative

September 2020