Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area: management plan
This management plan was developed by Tanya Pulfer (CWS) from early drafts by Tim Tully (private consultant), Laurie Maynard (CWS), and Graham Howell (CWS). Thanks to Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) Environment and Climate Change Canada employees who were involved in the development or review of the document: Graham Bryan, Krista Holmes, Andrea Kettle, Jason Read, Jeff Robinson, Denby Sadler, and Melanie Shapiera. Thanks to Shady Abbas (CWS) and Kevin Yang (CWS) for preparation of maps and figures. The CWS also wishes to thank the Friends of Wye Marsh Inc., the local community and the numerous volunteers and visitors, for their stewardship of the Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area and the Wye Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area.
Copies of this plan are available at the following addresses:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Public Inquiries Centre
Fontaine Building 12th Floor
200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto ON M3H 5T4
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Environment and Climate Change Canada Protected Areas website: Protected areas
How to cite this document:
Environment and Climate Change Canada 2020. Management Plan for the Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario, 52 p.
Unless otherwise specified, you may not reproduce materials in this publication, in whole or in part, for the purposes of commercial redistribution without prior written permission from Environment and Climate Change Canada's copyright administrator. To obtain permission to reproduce Government of Canada materials for commercial purposes, apply for Crown Copyright Clearance by contacting:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Public Inquiries Centre
Fontaine Building 12th Floor
200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Cover photo: with the permission of © Amanda Swick, 2020, Friends of the Wye Marsh (FOWM)
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About Environment and Climate Change Canada’s protected areas and management plans
What are Environment and Climate Change Canada protected areas?
Environment and Climate Change Canada establishes marine and terrestrial National Wildlife Areas for the purposes of conservation, research and interpretation. National Wildlife Areas are established to protect migratory birds, species at risk, and other wildlife and their habitats. National Wildlife Areas are established under the authority of the Canada Wildlife Act and are, first and foremost, places for wildlife. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries are established under the authority of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and provide a refuge for migratory birds in the marine and terrestrial environment.
How has the federal government’s investment from Budget 2018 helped manage and expand Environment and Climate Change Canada’s national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries?
The Nature Legacy represents a historic investment over five years of $1.3 billion dollars that will help Environment and Climate Change Canada expand its national wildlife areas and migratory bird sanctuaries, pursue its biodiversity conservation objectives and increase its capacity to manage its protected areas.
According to the Budget 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada will be conserving more areas, and have more resources to effectively manage and monitor the habitats and species found inside its protected areas
What is the size of the Environment and Climate Change Canada protected areas network?
The current Protected Areas Network consists of 55 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries, comprising more than 14 million hectares across Canada.
What is a management plan?
A management plan provides the framework in which management decisions are made. It is intended to be used by Environment and Climate Change Canada staff to guide decision making on the monitoring of wildlife and enhancement to it’s habitat, the enforcement of regulations, the maintenance of facilities, and permitting. Management is undertaken in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the protected area and to maintain the attributes for which the protected area was established. Environment and Climate Change Canada prepares a management plan for each protected area in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, the public and other stakeholders.
A management plan specifies activities that are allowed and identifies other activities that may be undertaken under the authority of a permit. It may also describe the necessary improvements needed in the habitat, and specify where and when these improvements should be made. A management plan identifies Aboriginal rights and allowable practices specified under land claims agreements. Further, measures carried out for the conservation of wildlife must not be inconsistent with any law respecting wildlife in the province in which the protected area is situated.
What is protected area management?
Management includes monitoring wildlife, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, periodic inspections, enforcement of regulations, as well as the maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. Research is also an important activity in protected areas; hence, Environment and Climate Change Canada staff carries out or coordinates research in some sites.
All of the National Wildlife Areas are to have a management plan. The management plans should be initially reviewed 5 years after the approval of the first plan, and every 10 years thereafter.
To learn more
To learn more about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s protected areas, please visit our website at National wildlife areas or contact the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area
The Wye Marsh System, comprised of a National Wildlife Area (NWA) and a Provincial Wildlife Area (PWA), is an extensive natural area located just inland from the southern shores of the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, in Ontario, consisting of a large marsh complex surrounded by a sloping valley of deciduous forest. It provides important habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds for staging, stopover, and feeding, and is vital habitat for many species at risk. While the overall Wye Marsh System is 967 ha, the NWA is 47 ha of upland mixed forest, former agriculture fields (old field meadow), and small areas of marsh and swamp. The Wye Marsh PWA was established in 1965 to protect important wildlife habitat. The PWA contains the majority of the Wye Marsh Provincially Significant Wetland, as well as the Wye Marsh Important Bird Area.
In 1967, the provincial government transferred the administration of 26 ha of provincial Crown land to the Government of Canada, through joint Order In Councils, to establish a “Nature Interpretive Centre” adjacent to the Wye Marsh PWA. Later two separate acquisition projects added 21 more hectares to the NWA. Collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service (ECCC-CWS) and the Province of Ontario built and opened the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre in 1970 to administer education and interpretive programs for the Wye Marsh PWA. The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre opened with goals of connecting the public to nature and to promote an understanding of the vital role wetlands play within the environment.
In 1978, the Wye Marsh NWA was established under the Canada Wildlife Act (1973) for the purpose of interpretation. Although this remain the primary goals, new legislation and policy changes have expanded the interpretation focus of the NWA to also include other wildlife, species at risk, rare or unique habitats and conservation.
In 1984 the interpretative focus was removed from ECCC-CWS’s mandate (Bickis 2008), thus eliminating national funding for federal employees who worked at the Interpretive Centre at Wye Marsh. Rather than close the site, since 1985, the Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. (FOWM), a non-profit, non-governmental organization, has operated the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre under a lease agreement of the NWA lands and uses buildings from ECCC-CWS to continue the original intent of the NWA – to deliver public interpretive, education and recreation programs year-round in the Wye Marsh NWA. Facilities and activities include walking trails, a marsh boardwalk, an observation blind, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, guided canoe trips, and interpretive programs for visitors, school groups and the local community.
The Wye Marsh and the local area are a popular tourist destination. Adjacent to the Wye Marsh NWA is the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons national historic site. This along with other nearby tourist attractions provide opportunities for year-round recreation. It is estimated that over 30,000 people visit the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre per year (Friends of Wye Marsh 2017). Although the Wye Marsh NWA is open to the public year-round, portions of the wildlife area may be closed to the public to protect wildlife and their habitats.
For greater certainty, nothing in this management plan shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. (FOWM) operates within the Wye Marsh NWA under both a lease agreement as well as relevant authorizations under the Canada Wildlife Act and the Species at Risk Act (2002) with ECCC-CWS. The not-for-profit delivers educational programming, and maintains a series of buildings and infrastructure including the Interpretive Centre, observation tower, wildlife viewing blind, several small buildings used for interpretation, trails, boardwalks and canoe docks.
1.0 Description of protected area
The Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area (NWA) was established in 1978 as part of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Protected Area network for the purpose of interpretation. The NWA is located 5 km south of the Town of Midland, Ontario immediately adjacent to the Wye Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area (PWA) and the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons national historic site, and upstream from the Wye Valley Road River Crown property managed by the Georgian Bay Islands National Park (Figure 1). Public entry to the NWA is via the access road at 16160 Highway 12 East and the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre. The NWA contains 47 ha, comprised of several small contiguous tracts of land acquired since 1967 that includes: areas of mixed forest, old field meadow, abandoned farmland, and wetland.
The diverse Wye Marsh System includes a large (843 ha) deltaic marsh, located approximately 1 km upstream from the mouth of the Wye River on Georgian Bay. The marsh is designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland known as the ‘Wye Marsh Wetland Complex’ (OGDE 2015) due to the large size and significance for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. The PWA includes the Wye Marsh Wetland Complex and surrounding uplands, which are protected by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNDMNRF).
Lands of the NWA are administered by the Government of Canada, subject to joint federal and provincial Order in Council (OIC). The ultimate ownership rests with the provincial crown, with ECCC-CWS managing them under the Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act, see Canada OIC 1968-1368 and Ontario OIC 3979/67 (Table 1). Two additional parcels were acquired with the Government of Canada as owner.
In 1984, a change in focus and funding meant that ECCC no longer operated interpretation programs or the centre at Wye Marsh. Since 1985, the Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated (FOWM), a not-for-profit organization, has delivered public interpretive, education and recreation programs year-round in the Wye Marsh NWA. The FOWM maintains trails, boardwalks and several small buildings under a Lease Agreement and permits with ECCC.
The Wye Marsh NWA is classified as an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category II Protected Area (Dudley 2008). This designation applies to the combined protected areas of the Wye Marsh NWA and the Wye Marsh PWA. Although the PWA and NWA share much of the same ecology and mandate, this document is a management plan solely for the federal NWA.
|Protected area designation||Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area|
|Geographic County||Simcoe County|
|Geographic Township||Township of Tay|
|Latitude and Longitude||44°72’97” North / -79°83’67” West|
|Environment and Climate Change Canada Protected Area Designation Criteria||
|Environment and Climate Change Canada Protected Area Classification System||Category C - Information and Interpretation|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Classification||
The entire system (PWA and NWA) is classified as ‘Category II national park’ under the IUCN classification (Dudley 2008).
Category II national park: protects large natural or near natural areas, large-scale ecological processes, along with species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible, spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities.
The Wye Marsh NWA alone does not meet the criteria of the Category II designation. It is a small parcel of land on which the primary feature is the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre building and associated infrastructure (i.e., trails, observation blind, parking lot) to support recreation, education and interpretation in the adjacent Wye Marsh PWA - a large provincially significant wetland.
|Order-in-Council Number||P.C. 1968-1368
|Directory of Federal Real Property (DFRP) Number||11115|
Wye Marsh – globally significant Important Bird Area
|Faunistic and Floristic Importance||
|Invasive and/or Non-native Species||Plants include: garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe subsp. micranthos), glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), white sweet-clover (Melilotus albus), the European lineage of common reed (Phragmites australis subsp. australis), European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara).|
|Species at Risk||Within the NWA there are:12 federally listed species (Special Concern, Threatened and Endangered) under the Species at Risk Act including: 1 mammal, 4 birds, 6 reptiles, and 1 invertebrate;
14 species designated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) have been recorded at the NWA (including 1 additional reptile and 1 vascular plant).
|Management Agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service|
|Public Access and Use||
Public access is permitted for interpretation and recreation on designated trails for day use only. Activities include walking, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and interpretive and education programs.
Public facilities include trails, observation blind, marsh boardwalk, Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre, parking lot and washrooms.
Trails and boardwalk at the Wye Marsh NWA extend into a larger trail system on the Wye Marsh PWA.
Interpretive, education and recreation programming is provided by the Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated (a non government organization).
Visitor access is via the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre at 16160 Highway 12 East. Public access is subject to admission fees.
Map showing the location of Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area (NWA) in Ontario. Wye Marsh NWA, Wye Marsh provincial wildlife area and Wye Valley road party section of Georgian Bay Islands National park are shown overlapping. Sites are located within Simcoe County, southeast from the town of Midland, along where highway 12 meets highway 93. Conservation lands such as Tiny Marsh Provincial wildlife area, Waubaushene Beaches Provincial park, Awenda Provincial park, Six Mile lake Provincial park and Gibson River Provincial park as well as the Beausoleil Island section of Georgian Bay Islands National park are all shown on the map. The scale of the map is in kilometers and the Universal Transverse Mercator Projection is Zone 17N. An inset map situates the NWA in Ontario, in relation to Quebec and the United States of America.
Aerial view of the Township of Tiny showing Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area, Wye Marsh Provincial wildlife area, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons Historical site, and Mud Lake and Wye Marsh Wetland complex. The scale of the map is in kilometers and the Universal Transverse Mercator Projection is Zone 17N.
1.1 Regional context
The Wye Marsh NWA is located within Tay Township of Simcoe County at the northeast part of Wye Marsh, an extensive wetland complex located in the floodplain of a steep-sloped valley known as the Lower Wye River Valley (Wye Valley) (Severn Sound Environmental Association 2015). Conservation lands make up 8% of the EcoDistrict (6E-6). The Wye Marsh Wetland Complex (843 ha) is designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) (OGDE 2015; OMNR 1987) and a regional Life Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) by OMNDMNRF.
Wye Marsh is connected directly to Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) through the mouth of the Wye River. A control dam on the Wye River, along the boundary between the Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation property (Sainte-Marie among the Hurons) and the PWA, maintains water levels in the Wye Marsh.
The NWA constitutes 47 ha of the Wye Valley and is adjacent to the Wye Marsh PWA (920 ha), owned by OMNDMNRF (Figure 2). The NWA and PWA together protect approximately 967 ha of the ecologically sensitive wetland and valley lands of Wye Marsh.
In addition to the provincially significant Wye Marsh Wetland Complex, other regional areas of ecological significance include the Matchedash Bay Ramsar site (wetland of international importance), Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Awenda Provincial Park, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, and several Great Lakes coastal wetlands of provincial significance on nearby Georgian Bay (Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 2003).
The Wye Marsh area is also classified as a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International, and is recognized for the continentally significant populations of trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) (a reintroduced species), breeding black terns (Chlidonias niger) and breeding least bitterns (Ixobrychus exilis) that are found within the marsh (Wilson and Cheskey 2001).
Wye Marsh and the broader local area is a popular tourist destination: thousands of annual visitors visit Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre (NWA), walk the trails on the PWA, and visit the neighbouring reconstructed Sainte-Marie among the HuronsFootnote 1 historical village and the Martyrs’ Shrine across the highway (See Figure 2).
Beyond the adjacent provincial wetland and neighbouring attractions, the rural nature of the area is gradually urbanizing. Major commercial development is occurring to the west of the greater Wye Marsh area as part of the overall growth and expansion of the Town of Midland. Over the last few decades, the Towns of Midland and Barrie have expanded, and development along the Georgian Bay shoreline has increased, resulting in a rise in both seasonal and year-round homes, as well as tourist establishments. Today the area is popular for year-round residents and business as well as a year-round tourist destination for cottaging, boating, fishing, hiking, and skiing. Agriculture is still a major surrounding land use with the major crops including corn, soybeans, and hay.
The Wye Marsh NWA lies in the Wye River valley, within the Lake Simcoe-Rideau ecoregion 6E. The physiography of the ecoregion is characterized by successive periods of glaciation. The Wye River Valley is underlain by limestone bedrock and is framed by bluffs on the northwest and southeast (Chittenden 1990, Bowles 2002). Wye Valley is identified as an important area for groundwater recharge and nutrient attenuation (Gartner Lee Limited 1996). The Wye River connects the marsh to the surrounding watershed and Simcoe Uplands region (Chapman and Putnam 1984). The geography lends itself to an exceptional diversity of habitats.
Regionally the Wye Valley constitutes an important wildlife migration corridor connecting Georgian Bay with the wildlife core areas of Wye Marsh and inland marshes (Figure 1). The corridor includes Tiny Marsh and Orr Lake wetland complex to the south, the Georgian Bay wetlands (including Hogg’s Bay, Sturgeon Bay and the Ramsar Convention-designated Matchedash Bay) to the northeast and the Georgian Bay Island National Park (including Beausoleil Island) directly to the north.
The loss and conversion of over 70% of Ontario’s pre-European settlement wetlands, both in southern Ontario and this ecodistrict, (Ducks Unlimited Canada 2010) and the relatively large area and significance of the Wye Marsh Wetland Complex gives further value to its conservation importance. Today the Wye Marsh System water levels are controlled by the Sainte-Marie Dam on the Wye River (along the northeastern boundary of Wye Marsh; Figure 2).
1.2 Historical background
The Wye Marsh is located within the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, in particular the Huron-Wendat and the historical homelands of the Métis. This territory is within the pre-confederation Treaty 5 and Treaty 16, and included within the Williams Treaties of 1923.
The Wendat occupied a broad geographic area known as Wendake, between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay (1200 A.D. and 1650 A.D.). Two sizeable pre-European contact Wendat villages (circa 1590 A.D.) were located 500 m and 900 m immediately north and northeast respectively of Wye Marsh on the north side of what is now Highway 12.
In 1639, Jesuits from France built a central mission headquarters on the Isaraqui River (River of Dancing Waters), now called the Wye River, in the heart of the Wendat territory (Heidenreich 1971). The French named the Wendat people ‘Hurons’ and named the mission ‘Sainte-Marie among the Hurons’. The mission continued for 10 years and was abandoned in 1649. The Jesuits and Wendat left and moved northwest to an island known today as Christian Island, and would later travel to Quebec.
The ruins of the Sainte-Marie Mission lay undisturbed for two hundred years until exploratory excavation in 1855. In 1920 Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was designated as a national historic site. Archaeological excavations and historical research in the 1940s and 1950s led to the reconstruction of many of the original mission buildings. In 1967 the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons site was officially opened to the public.
Archaeofaunal evidence from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, including fish and numerous waterfowl remains, demonstrates the French community was heavily reliant upon the resources of the immediate wetland area, as were presumably the Wendat. Trumpeter swan bones uncovered on the site were used as evidence in support of the reintroductionFootnote 2 of the species to its ‘historic’ range in Wye Marsh.
After the Wendat left, Algonquian hunter-gatherers occupied the territory. By the late 1690s, the Anishinaabe utilized the area for hunting and fishing. Historically, the Wye Marsh was known to have a prolific amount of northern wildrice or Manoomin (Zizania palustris), a favorite gathered food source of the Anishinaabe, growing in the wetland through until the 1950s (Campbell 1976).
In 1793, nearby Penetanguishene Bay was selected as a strategic site for a naval base. Land was purchased from the Ojibway and a road was built from Lake Simcoe to Penetanguishene. The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States sparked the construction of a naval dockyard at Penetanguishene. By 1817, the British Navy, anxious to patrol and protect the Upper Great Lakes against a future attack, began building the naval establishment which remained in Penetanguishene until 1834. The community continued to grow: British officers, their families, and French traders settled in the area as permanent residents.
During the 1800s, much of the land surrounding Wye Marsh was cleared for cash crop farming which is still carried out today. Less suitable areas were used for pasture. In wetter areas, lumbering was conducted (Campbell 1976). The hamlet of Wyebridge (southwest of Wye Marsh) was an important early lumbering centre in the 1860s and 1870s when logs were towed from ‘Mud Lake’ (Wye Lake) to ‘Old Fort’ (Sainte-Marie among the Hurons) (Northcott and Smith 2008).
The nearby town of Midland, northwest of Wye Marsh, was settled in the 1840s as a farming community. In 1871 Midland was chosen as the western terminus for the Midland Railway Corporation of Port Hope, Ontario (Town of Midland 2019).
In 1879, the North Simcoe railway line was constructed, running along the eastern edge of Wye Marsh. The railway line has since been abandoned and tracks removed, the rail bed remains and is now used as a recreational Ganaraska trail.
In the late 1800s, Wye Marsh was used as a private hunting reserve, belonging to the Playfair family. The Playfairs built a dam across the Wye River in 1892 to maintain water levels in the Wye Marsh (Northcott and Smith 2008).
Establishment of Wye Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area
In the 1960s, the OMNDMNRF purchased land from the Playfair family and additional properties in the Wye Marsh to establish the Wye Marsh PWA. This site was part of a provincial program to designate PWAs in order to protect important wildlife habitats across Ontario and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for the general public. The Wye Marsh PWA was established in 1965 to protect the wetland and upland habitats of the Wye Marsh, provide wildlife-oriented day-use recreation, increase public awareness of wildlife and its management, and allow for compatible commercial harvest of natural resources. Since the PWA was first established, OMNDMNRF has acquired additional lands and today the PWA is approximately 920 ha.
Management of the Wye Marsh PWA is governed by the general policies contained in the Huronia District Land Use Guidelines (OMNR 1983). OMNDMNRF wildlife and habitat management actions and public recreation activities are centred on the marsh and the large numbers of waterfowl that migrate through the Wye River valley in the fall. The Wye Marsh PWA is a popular destination for year-round outdoor recreation, including: hiking, wildlife viewing, canoeing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Traditional activities such as fishing, waterfowl and upland game hunting, and trapping are permitted in designated areas within the Wye Marsh PWA. The use of off-road vehicles (e.g. all-terrain vehicles) in the PWA is prohibited at all times.
Establishment of Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area
In the late 1960s, the Wye Marsh became the focus of a federal tourism initiative that included construction of a nature Interpretive centre adjacent to the newly established (1965) Wye Marsh PWA, and development of the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons national historic site located on the nearby Wye River. During this time, the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists Club (MPFNC) advocated for the creation of an interpretive centre at Wye Marsh, and encouraged the Government of Canada to pursue the tourism initiative. Both sites were conceived as Centennial projects and designed to provide tourist attractions to coincide with Canada’s 100th birthday celebrations in 1967. It was advantageous to establish the Wye Marsh as a tourist destination within 150 km of Toronto: a potential major tourism market.
In 1967 the administration of 26 ha of provincial Crown land was transferred from the Ontario Government to the Government of Canada using Orders in Council. The ultimate goal was to establish a “Nature Interpretive Centre” adjacent to the Wye Marsh PWA. Two further acquisition projects of land East of the Interpretive Centre brought the NWA total area to 47 ha. The ECCC-CWS land holdings are contiguous with the larger Wye Marsh PWA and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons historic site (Figure 3).
The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre was built by the federal government on the assembled land parcels, and officially opened in 1970. The goals of building the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre were to connect people to nature and promote an understanding of the vital role wetlands play within the environment. The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre offers a large display hall, theatre and washroom facilities.
As per the original agreements between the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government, ECCC-CWS conducted a public interpretation program about the Wye Marsh area, while Ontario was responsible for wildlife management. The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre was built on land adjacent to the marsh so that the infrastructure was outside of the wetland area and yet provided easy access for the public to pursue interpretation and outdoor recreation programs at Wye Marsh.
In 1978, the Wye Marsh NWA was designated under the recently established Canada Wildlife Act (1973) for purposes of wildlife interpretation. ECCC-CWS collaborated with OMNDMNRF and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to provide interpretive programming and opportunities for visitors to both the Wye Marsh PWA and NWA to view wildlife and wetlands first-hand. The Wye Marsh NWA interpretive program promoted public awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting wetland habitats for wildlife, especially migratory birds. The Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area is one of 10 NWAs in Ontario and the only one established for the purposes of wildlife interpretation.
In 1984 the ECCC-CWS interpretive program was cut entirely (Bickis 2008). Rather than close the centre, given local interest, in 1985, ECCC-CWS entered into formal agreements with the FOWM, a not-for-profit organization, to deliver a public interpretive and education program at Wye Marsh NWA. The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre buildings and lands are leased to FOWM by ECCC and serves as the base for FOWM operations and visitor interpretation programs for both the NWA and PWA. Visitors accessing the NWA or the PWA via the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre are subject to admission fees administered by FOWM. The FOWM are not funded by the federal government.
Development activities in the Wye River watershed, including land clearing and conversion of forests and wetlands through urbanization, logging, agriculture and tourism development occurred between the 1880s and 1980s. These activities resulted in an infusion of silt and nutrients into the Wye River delta and reduced the quality of wildlife habitat in the marsh. In 1987, in response to these impacts, OMNDMNRF and DUC established a collaborative agreement to manage and enhance habitat in the Wye Marsh.
OMNDMNRF and DUC habitat projects included; water level management in Mud Lake (an area of open water in the centre of the Wye Marsh), and removal of vegetation to open channels. Other habitat projects carried out by various stakeholders included the creation of berms and diked cells to impound water and the creation of cells and channels adjacent to the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre as demonstration sites for interpretation programs.
The NWA is comprised of three parcels of land totalling 47 ha. Surface title of 21 ha of the Wye Marsh NWA belongs to the Crown in Right of Canada from two acquisition projects (6 ha from the Canadian National Railway Company (1972) and 15 ha purchased in a private sale (1975)) (Figure 3; collectively these comprise Parcel 2). Under matching federal and provincial Orders in Council (P.C. 1968-1368), the Crown in Right of Canada has administration and control of 26 ha of provincial Crown lands for the purposes of a “Nature Interpretive Centre” (Figure 3; Parcel 1). The NWA is administered by ECCC-CWS as described in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act. Other commitments to third parties within the NWA include easement agreements with Ontario Hydro and Bell Canada for service lines.
Aerial view of Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area (NWA) showing the boundaries of the two parcels of the NWA. A small section of Wye Marsh Provincial wildlife area and Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation are shown as well. The map scale is in meters and the Universal Transverse Mercator Projection is Zone 17N.
1.3 Facilities and infrastructure
With the heavy focus on interpretation, Wye Marsh NWA has a number of facilities and infrastructure on site (Table 2). The existence of much of this infrastructure relates to the original agreements between the province of Ontario and the federal government, whereby ECCC-CWS would conduct a public interpretation program for the area while the Government of Ontario was responsible for wildlife management.
ECCC – both CWS and Corporate Services and Finance Branch (ECCC-CSFB) manages and maintains ECCC infrastructure within the Wye Marsh NWA, including: the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre, main entrance road, water main, parking lot, garage and storage shed (Table 2; Figure 3 and Figure 4).
A system of trails, marsh boardwalks, an observation tower, wetland demonstration sites, and wildlife research projects have been established in the NWA to provide opportunities for public interpretation, education and outdoor recreation. Many of the trails, including the marsh boardwalk, traverse the PWA, thus require cooperation in management. Recreation activities may be restricted and/or portions of the national and provincial wildlife areas may be closed to the public to protect wildlife and their habitats. Signs and public notices listing the authorized activities are posted at access points to the NWA.
Where infrastructure and facilities occur along NWA boundaries resulting in joint ownership of these features, responsibilities for management are shared (see Table 2 ). For example, the main entrance road (at Highway 12) provides shared access to the Sainte-Marie among the Hurons site and the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre and entrance to the NWA. The road is owned and managed by ECCC, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS), and Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation (Sainte-Marie among the Hurons). Management and maintenance of the access road is the responsibility of FOWM.
|Type of facility or infrastructure||Approximate size or number||Responsibility holder or owner|
|Parking lot||3,504 m2||ECCC-CFSB|
|Storage building||84 m2||ECCC-CFSB|
|Transformer building||30 m2||ECCC-CFSB|
|Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre||927.9 m2||ECCC-CFSB|
|NWA entry signs||1||ECCC|
|NWA boundary signs||50||ECCC|
|NWA/PWA boundary signs||2 to 3||ECCC/OMNDMNRF|
|Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre Sign||1||ECCC|
|Marsh Lane: Main access to NWA, PWA and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons||230 m||ECCC/Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation and MTCS1|
|Demonstration Wetland (adjacent to Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre)||1||DUC/OMNDMNRF/ECCC|
|Wye Marsh Cell||1||DUC/OMNDMNRF/ECCC|
|Type of facility or infrastructure||Approximate Size or number||Responsibility holder or owner|
|Bee House||50 m2||FOWM|
|Bird Aviary Buildings||3||FOWM|
|Cook cabin (cabin 2)||56 m2||FOWM|
|Hogan building||37.2 m2||FOWM|
|Old Aviary||13.4 m2||FOWM|
|Outdoor public washrooms (composting toilets)||3 m2 (2)||FOWM|
|Owl barn||111 m2||FOWN|
|Service Shed for Wind Turbines||17.5 m2||FOWM|
|Sleeping Cottages (cabins 1 and 3)||56 m2 (2 buildings)||FOWM|
|Storage Shed (west of Interpretive Centre)||64 m2||FOWM|
|Storage Shed (near Canoe Docks)||5 m2||FOWM|
|Trumpeter Swam Treatment Centre (Swan Building)||156 m2||FOWM|
|Wind Turbines||2 structres||FOWM|
|Woodcarver Building||78 m2||FOWM|
|Bridge at Beaver Pond||1||FOWM|
|Bridge (Identification Trail)||1||FOWM|
|Internal Access Roads||1.4 km||FOWM|
|Main Marsh Boardwalk (initial section on NWA)||120 m||FOWM|
|Marsh Boardwalk||1.9 km||FOWM|
|S. McDonald Boardwalk||1||FOWM|
|Arboretum Traila||0.4 km||FOWM|
|Beaver Traila||0.7 km||FOWM|
|G. MacDonald Snowshoe trailb||2.2 km||FOWM|
|Hardwood Traila||0.4 km||FOWM|
|ID [Identification] Traila||0.8 km||FOWM|
|Muskrat Traila||1.3 km||FOWM|
|Woodland Trail a||1.8 km||FOWM|
a Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (Ontario)
b Lengths of features that start within the NWA and continue beyond into the PWA. Lengths represent real world size, not only what is found within the NWA limits.
Aerial view of Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area (NWA) showing the boundaries of the two parcels of the NWA and infrastructure’s location. Infrastructures shown include Canoe Docks, Septic pump, tubines, viewing blind, Parking lot, viewing tower, bridge, private roads, buildings, sheds and a raised septic field bed. A small section of Wye Marsh Provincial wildlife area and Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation are shown as well. The map scale is in meters and the Universal Transverse Mercator Projection is Zone 17N.
2.0 Ecological resources
2.1 Terrestrial, wetland and aquatic habitats
Located within the Barrie EcoDistrict 6E-6, the area is within a clay plain and limestone plain. Within the 6E-6 EcoDistrict, 47% remains as natural cover, which is very high compared to other ecodistricts in southern Ontario (Henson and Brodribb 2005).
A variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats (or ecoSitesFootnote 3 ) are found within the Wye Marsh NWA despite its small size, ranging in size from small isolated remnants to pieces of larger connected ecosites within the Wye Marsh PWA. All habitats within the NWA show significant anthropogenic influences.
In documenting wildlife species, most biological surveys have focused on the Wye Marsh System, making it challenging to separate survey and inventory results on federal NWA land from the adjacent PWA. Thus, the below is the best understanding of what is found on the NWA, and a complete inventory of the NWA by ECCC-CWS is a necessary future action. The comprehensive plant list for the Wye Marsh System is 486 species, and 81 species of the known flora are non-native (Bowles 2002, Kamstra 2009). Non-native plant species dominate disturbed areas such as old field meadows (for the purposes of this plan, old field meadow will include grasslands).
Information on the health and ecological function of terrestrial habitats (in particular forested areas and old field meadows) is incomplete, and there has been limited active habitat or vegetation management in the NWA. Instead, natural succession has been allowed to take place unimpeded. Information is needed on the extent of invasive non-native plants and threats to habitat in the NWA to inform management and restoration planning.
General habitat mapping for Wye Marsh NWA, based on Ecological Land Classification System (Lee et al. 1998) found approximately 30 ha of the 47 ha NWA is forested (Kamstra 2009) characterized by three different Ecological Land Classifications (ELC) forest types: Dry and Fresh White Cedar Mixed Forest Ecosite (17 ha), Dry-Fresh Sugar Maple Deciduous Forest Ecosite (2.35 ha), and Fresh Moist Ash Lowland Deciduous Forest Type (9.4 ha). The forests of the Wye Marsh System are all second growth with age estimates of 74 years (inferred from Campbell 1976).
Old field meadow
There are a number of cultural ecosites found in the NWA. The northeast portion of the NWA property contains various cultural ecosites, including: old field meadow, successional areas transitioning from old field to woodland, and three areas of manicured lawn (two south of the main parking lot and railway bed, and a third area on both sides of the main service road). The eastern upland area near the boundary has former agricultural fields (old field meadow). The old field meadows are succeeding to forested conditions and are now populated with pioneer species, including white ash and non-native scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Wetland and aquatic habitat
The NWA has a number of aquatic and wetland habitats, including a small portion of the larger Wye Marsh System. Wetlands in the NWA are characterized as deciduous swamp with cattail-grass-sedge wetland edges, a series of dredged channels, berms, dikes, ditches and ponds and two small beaver pond and shallow organic marsh complex.
The Wye Marsh Cell (on both the PWA and NWA) was excavated with in-kind advice by DUC in 1989 to 90 to enhance waterfowl breeding potential, create more open water, and to facilitate the trumpeter swan captive breeding and release program on the PWA (1988 to 2001).
Wye Marsh NWA facilities
The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre, several small buildings used for interpretation programs, the manicured lawn activity areas, the access road and parking lot are all located on the southwest portion of the NWA (Figures 3 and 4). The grassed areas, trees and shrubs surrounding the buildings provide habitat and cover for some species of wildlife. Several small wildflower and pollinator gardens have been planted and maintained adjacent to the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre to provide habitat for pollinators.
2.2 Wildlife species
As with the flora inventory, much of the known data is for the Wye Marsh System as a whole and does not necessarily distinguish between the NWA and PWA. Below includes those species known, or thought to be, on the NWA.
The diverse wetland and forest habitats and large size of the Wye Marsh System have produced an impressive list of 46 mammal species. Many wide-ranging species, such as fisher (Pekania pennanti), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and moose (Alces americanus) are assumed to occur on the NWA. Confirmed species on the NWA include more aquatic species (such as American beaver (Castor canadensis), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) and American mink (Neovison vison)), and forest species (such as short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea), eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), and red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)). The only species at risk mammal confirmed on the NWA is the endangered little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) (Pelletier, personal communication, 2019; Read, personal communication, 2019; Tully, personal communication, 2016).
The Wye Marsh System (NWA and PWA) is classified as an Important Bird Area. This was in part due to the significant breeding populations of least bittern, black tern, and trumpeter swan (Wilson and Cheskey 2001). Most information on birds is for the overall Wye Marsh System, which estimates over 220 bird species.
The forest and edge habitat of the NWA near the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre provides good stopover habitat for passerines during the spring and fall migration (Tully, personal communication, 2016). The open edge community is an excellent foraging habitat for insectivores that include the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), bank swallow (Riparia riparia), and tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor). Known breeding colonies of barn swallows occur both on the NWA and adjacent properties and forage in the NWA (Street, personal communication, 2016; Taylor, personal communication, 2015; Tully, personal communication, 2013).
One of the most notable species is the trumpeter swan (Lumsden 1991). The reintroduction program for trumpeter swan at the Wye Marsh System and similar sites played a role in stabilizing the population and allowing it to re-establish within the province (Badzinski and Earsom 2015, see Appendix I for more information). The result was a downlisting of the species’ COSEWIC status change from ‘Special Concern’ to ‘Not at Risk’ in April 1996 (COSEWIC 2019).
Reptiles and Amphibians
The habitat mosaic on the NWA provides excellent habitat for over 30 reptiles and amphibians, including some species at risk including the special concern snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), and the threatened eastern hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos) (Ontario Nature 2020, Kamstra 2009). There are historical accounts of massassauga (Sistrurus catenatus) at Wye Marsh System, with the last sighting in 1969.
The Wye Marsh System watercourses and marshes provide important spawning, nursery and food sources for fish and aquatic species that subsequently provide food for many species of birds. No fish inventories have taken place on the NWA.
Biological studies at the Wye Marsh System have included two orders of insects, Lepidoptera and Odonata, with a large diversity. Other families of arthropods have not been inventoried. Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) have been confirmed consistently at the NWA.
2.3 Species at risk
Twelve species listed federally under the Species at Risk Act (SARA: Special Concern, Threatened and Endangered) have been reported at the Wye Marsh NWA including: 1 mammal, 4 birds, 6 reptiles, and 1 invertebrate (Table 1) (Government of Canada 2019; Kamstra 2009). An additional two species are COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) assessed but not listed under the SARA (currently under consideration) are also found on the NWA (Government of Canada 2019; Kamstra 2009). As yet, critical habitat for only one species has been identified within the NWA.
Confirmed species at risk at the Wye Marsh NWA, with an emphasis on resident species in Wye Marsh NWA or species that use the NWA for breeding or a significant part of their life cycle are found in Table 3. This list is not comprehensive of species that use the NWA for stopover or movement; such species are not considered a focus of management planning. The names of several species at risk found in the NWA are not listed in this management plan due to the sensitivity of information.
Common and scientific names of species
|Status Canada SARAa||Status Canada COSEWICb||Status Ontario ESAc|
|Mammals||Little Brown Myotis
|Special Concern||Special Concern||Special Concern|
|Special Concern||Special Concern||No Status|
|Reptiles||Midland Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta marginata
|No Status||Special Concern||No Status|
|Special Concern||Special Concern||Special Concern|
|Special concern||Endangered||Special concern|
a SARA (Species at Risk Act): Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Not at Risk (assessed and deemed not at risk of extinction), or No Status (not rated).
b COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada): Extinct, Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Not at Risk (assessed not at risk), or Data Deficient (available information is insufficient to resolve eligibility for assessment or permit an assessment of the wildlife species' risk of extinction).
c ESA (Endangered Species Act, 2007), Species at Risk in Ontario List: Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, or not classified.
3.0 Management challenges and threats
3.1 Invasive and non-native plant species
While a total of 81 non-native species have been documented in the Wye Marsh System (Kamstra 2009), within the Wye Marsh NWA the expansion and invasive characteristics of three species are of particular concern: glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and non-native European common reed (Phragmites australis subsp. australis) (hereafter referred to as non-native Phragmites).
Other non-native and invasive plant species in the Wye Marsh System that are considered aggressive include garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe L. subsp. micranthos), tartarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), white sweet-clover (Melilotus alba) and bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara). Little is known about the presence and/or abundance of these invasive species within the NWA.
Forest pests and disease that threaten to dramatically change the composition of the two forested areas on the NWA exist in the vicinity. The main threat to the forests on the NWA is the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) which affects all ash (Fraxinus) species and has been confirmed in two locations less than 5 km away from the NWA (Cox, personal communication, 2016). Ash dominated forest constitutes approximately 11 ha (23%) of the land area of the NWA. The forested areas east of the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre have about a 90% composition of ash, making this imminent threat a grave concern.
Additional threats include the beech bark disease that is a threat to American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and other beech species in Canada’s hardwood and mixed forests. A non-native insect known as beech scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga) coupled with beech bark cancer (Neonectria faginata) causes beech bark disease. Within the NWA, the upland habitat west of the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre has the greatest concentration of American beech. Although American beech trees are estimated to be less than 1% of the property’s overall tree composition, all but a few mature trees within the NWA have succumbed or are currently affected by the disease (Tully, personal communication, 2016).
3.2 Unauthorized access, human disturbance and off-road vehicle use
Public access is permitted in a large part of the Wye Marsh System for recreational and education opportunities. Public access is controlled through an access point at the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre and restricted to designated portions of Wye Marsh System, mainly on the NWA lands in an effort to prevent and/or limit unauthorized uses and negative effects of human disturbance to wildlife and habitat.
Unauthorized access tends to be concentrated in the more remote areas of the Wye Marsh System abutting the NWA. While the unauthorized access points may not be on NWA lands, the impact is generally to the whole area once access is obtained (Bowles 2002). The largest, yet infrequent, impact is from off-road vehicles.
Use of off-road vehicles is prohibited within the Wye Marsh NWA, unless a permit under the Canada Wildlife Act has been obtained from ECCC prior to access. Off-road vehicles are also prohibited within the Wye Marsh PWA and signs posted at access points indicate this activity is prohibited.
If off-road vehicle use continues and/or increases, barriers coupled with increased outreach and education about protected areas (including signage and coordinated federal and provincial regulatory and compliance efforts) would be recommended to help curtail illegal entry and reduce disturbance to wildlife and habitat.
3.3 Multi-species conservation and species at risk
Multi-species conservation and recovery is an ongoing challenge in the Wye Marsh NWA. Recovery of the species at risk identified on the Wye Marsh NWA includes managing habitat quality (such as removal of invasive species), protection of habitats used by the species during all or a portion of their life cycle, and improved education and outreach to engage the public in helping conserve the species and wetland habitats.
3.4 Collaborative management of Wye marsh
Long-term conservation and protection of the Wye Marsh NWA requires a collaborative and coordinated approach amongst government agencies, FOWM, partners and stakeholders, and engagement of visitors and the general public in stewardship of the site.
Various partners and stakeholders work in association with ECCC-CWS and OMNDMNRF and have an active stake in the conservation of the Wye Marsh System, including DUC and FOWM. Management actions to sustain forest, old field meadow, and wetland habitat, as well as maintain connections between habitats and protect species at risk require a co-ordinated approach to accomplish goals and meet ECCC and OMNDMNRF mandates for the Wye Marsh System as a whole.
3.5 Water management
The province is responsible for managing water levels in Wye Marsh System (including the Wye Marsh Cell that extends onto the NWA property) under custodial agreements with DUC and the FOWM. There is a need to assess the water management in the Wye Marsh to ensure the long-term viability of the dike system in the Wye Marsh Cell, and to support management actions necessary to maintain and improve wetland habitat over the long-term.
Water management issues at Wye Marsh may be exacerbated by climate change and the continued variability of Great Lakes water levels. The resources required to maintain dikes, water control structures and pumps in Great Lakes coastal wetlands (such as Wye Marsh System) are expected to increase due to climate change (Galloway et al. 2006; Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources 2003). Although the impacts of climate change on the habitats and wildlife of the NWA are unknown, it is expected that there will be changes in the distribution, range and breeding behaviours of migratory birds and wildlife using Wye Marsh System and the NWA.
3.6 Recreation and tourism
The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre and the Wye Marsh NWA were established to promote opportunities for responsible public access and interpretation while minimizing human activities that have negative impacts on the habitat or wildlife of the Wye Marsh System. The Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre is the focal point for interpretation program delivery and also serves to protect wildlife and control access to portions of the NWA and PWA. The Wye Marsh NWA plays an important role in connecting visitors to nature by educating the public about a variety of wildlife, habitat and environmental conservation issues, as well as the human history of the Wye Marsh.
FOWM delivers a number of recreational opportunities in the NWA including day use, camps, gardening, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and school group field trips.
Recreation and tourism, including ecotourism, can provide valuable education opportunities to the public, yet have the capacity to contribute additional pressures to protected areas that are set aside as wildlife habitat. With an estimated 30,000 visitors annually (Friends of Wye Marsh 2017) and the projected growth in the nearby municipalities of Midland, Barrie, Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area, the impact of visitation at Wye Marsh NWA should be monitored for potential negative impacts to wildlife or the habitat as well as the impact to existing infrastructure. Increased visitation places more demands on infrastructure and resources for maintenance of grounds and facilities (e.g., trails, parking, boardwalks, buildings, signs, washrooms) as well as development of information and outreach materials to promote conservation and stewardship of the NWA.
4.0 Goals and objectives
The vision for Wye Marsh NWA is to passively manage the lands to maintain existing natural areas, and to provide interpretive opportunities to increase public understanding of nature and wildlife conservation, with a focus on the natural processes and anthropogenic impacts on wetlands, migratory birds, species at risk, and to encourage participation in their conservation.
4.2 Goals and objectives
Wye Marsh NWA was originally selected to be an NWA for interpretation purposes. The original partnership with the provincial government established the NWA and Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre for interpretation, and the PWA focused on conservation and protection of the wetland system.
Ensuring connectedness with the PWA is an important factor in the conservation of the NWA, particularly of the wetland system.
Public visitation is not restricted, and in fact low impact recreation is encouraged at the NWA.
At the international level, the Wye Marsh System, of which the NWA is a small portion, is classified under the IUCN criteria for protected areas as a Category II National Park. The goals and objectives for the NWA revolve around connecting and educating Canadians on wetland and wildlife conservation, where it does not compromise wildlife management goals nor the Canada Wildlife Act. Interpretive goals and objectives ultimately serve to foster public understanding regarding wildlife and habitat, encourage nature stewardship, and aid in the conservation of the Wye Marsh NWA.
Specific goals and objectives are as follows:
Goal 1: Work with partners to promote appreciation of the natural environment and opportunities for responsible public access and recreation, while minimizing human activities that have negative impacts on the habitat or wildlife of Wye Marsh NWA.
1a. Allow opportunities for safe, responsible and informed public access and use in the NWA while minimizing human activities that have negative impacts on the habitat or wildlife of Wye Marsh NWA.
1b. Ensure that visitor reception infrastructure and buildings are in good condition, safe and adapted to the various target groups.
1c. Review all previous and existing agreements with partners, stakeholders, and staff to identify and instigate the most beneficial operational circumstances for stewardship and interpretation of the NWA.
1d. Work with partners to reduce the number of incidents of prohibited activities within the NWA to no more than five per year through mitigation, education and enforcement.
Goal 2: Sustain habitats for the benefit of native migratory species and resident flora and fauna, including species at risk.
2a. Maintain the current extent of grassland, wetland and upland habitat (including forest and old field meadows) for resident and migrant birds and species at risk.
2b. Develop and implement an invasive species management plan to map the distribution and percent cover of invasive species and reduce the extent and/or rate of expansion of invasive and non-native priority plant species in areas of concern. Priority species include European and glossy buckthorn, and non-native Phragmites.
Annual monitoring will be performed within the limits imposed by the availability of financial and human resources. The management plan will be reviewed 5 years after its initial approval and reviewed and updated every 10 years thereafter. The evaluation will take the form of an annual review of data obtained through monitoring, research, and interpretative exercises. This monitoring will be used to establish priorities for action and to allocate resources.
5.0 Management approaches
This section and Table 4 contain a description of approaches that could be used in the management of the Wye Marsh NWA. Management actions will be determined during the annual work planning process and will be implemented as human and financial resources allow.
Management is undertaken in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the Wye Marsh NWA and broader Wye Marsh Wetland Complex, while providing interpretive opportunities. Species habitat use, timing windows, critical habitats and other constraints will be considered within all management actions.
|Management challenge and/or threat||Goal and objective(s)||Management approaches (actions, including level of priority)a|
||Goal 1: Work with partners to promote appreciation of the natural environment, opportunities for responsible public access and recreation, while minimizing human activities that have negative impacts on the habitat or wildlife of Wye Marsh NWA.
Objective 1a: Allow opportunities for safe, responsible and informed public access and use in the NWA while minimizing human activities that have negative impacts on the habitat or wildlife of Wye Marsh NWA.
||Goal 2: Sustain habitats for the benefit of native migratory species and resident flora and fauna, especially species at risk.
Objective 2a. Maintain the current extent of grassland, wetland and upland habitat (including forest and old field meadows) for resident and migrant birds and species at risk.
||Goal 2: Sustain habitats for the benefit of native migratory species and resident flora and fauna, especially species at risk.
Objective 2b: Develop and implement an invasive species management plan to map the distribution and percent cover of invasive species and reduce the extent and/or rate of expansion of invasive and non-native priority plant species in areas of concern. Priority species include European and glossy buckthorn, and non-native Phragmites.
a Level of Priority: 1 (from 0 to 3 years); 2 (from 4 to 6 years); 3 (from 7 to 10 years)
5.1 Habitat management
Prior to any management actions, the existing terrestrial habitats, including old field meadow, grassland, and woodland/forest will be inventoried to collect a baseline with the goal of preserving existing habitat. Once inventoried, management actions may include removing invasive species and protecting sensitive habitats from human disturbance.
Where possible and appropriate, habitat conservation and management activities will be used as educational opportunities and encourage public involvement.
Wetland and aquatic
Prior to any management actions, the existing wetland and aquatic habitats, including small ponds and wetlands on the Wye Marsh NWA, will be inventoried to collect a baseline with the goal of preserving existing habitat. Once inventoried management actions may include water level-management, removing invasive species and protecting sensitive habitats from human disturbance.
Water management in the Wye Marsh System, including the NWA wetlands connected to the PWA, is in the purview of DUC under a long-term lease agreement with OMNDMNRF. The water levels within the greater Wye Marsh are controlled by the Sainte-Marie dam and levels are maintained at 177.1 m Above Sea Level (OMNR 1984). This wetland fringe, with associated berms, ponds, and channels as well as wetland cells used for demonstration and interpretation, covers a small area (4.5 ha) in the NWA.
Generally, optimal wetland management strives for a hemi-marsh: an equal mix of vegetation and open water with a high degree of interspersion and plant species diversity (Sojda and Solberg 1993). Biological management should be conducted as part of a partner-led initiative and may include manipulation of water levels to control areas of over abundant vegetation or invasive species (particularly hybrid cattails and non-native Phragmites). Occasional use of heavy equipment may be necessary for soil excavation and replacement, dredging and clearing of ditches, culvert replacement, and revegetation of disturbed sites.
5.2 Invasive and non-native plants
Within the Wye Marsh NWA, the expansion and invasive characteristics of three non-native species are of particular concern: non-native Phragmites, glossy buckthorn and European buckthorn (Figure 6). These species are known to out-compete native plant species and reduce the area’s native biodiversity.
Activities to control invasive and non-native plant species will be considered if the species are determined to be causing significant problems for wildlife or the ecological integrity of their habitats. Surveys of known problem and aggressive species (non-native Phragmites, and glossy and European buckthorn) should be carried out to document the size and number of habitat patches. Interventions to reduce the spread of invasive and non-native species or to remove them will be investigated and conducted where feasible. Furthermore, the Early Detection Rapid Response management technique should be initiated for species of low population levels within the NWA.
5.3 Wildlife management
The Wye Marsh NWA is managed for interpretation. As such, little wildlife management currently occurs on the NWA property. An exception is the Wye Marsh Trumpeter Swan Program that is operated and managed by Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. in both the NWA and Wye Marsh PWA (see Appendix I).
Where routine monitoring of the NWA identifies particular problems with feral domestic animals, removal of problem animals may be undertaken by ECCC-CWS. Outreach to promote compliance with Wildlife Area Regulations will be undertaken.People releasing or feeding wild or domestic animals will be reported to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (ECCC-WED).
5.4 Species at risk
Federal and provincial species at risk (under the Species at Risk Act and Endangered Species Act, 2007) and habitat required for their persistence, breeding, stopover and recovery within the NWA will be identified and protected.
In order to identify and monitor species within the NWA, with an emphasis on species at risk, ECCC-CWS works with a number of organizations and individuals that include: FOWM, OMNDMNRF, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), DUC, and local naturalists.
Species and habitats will be monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of management activities to maintain, protect and restore critical habitat. In addition, recommendations from species at risk recovery documents i.e., recovery strategies, action plans and management plans, will be implemented where feasible, and based on guidance from responsible jurisdictions and species experts.
5.5 Multi-agency land management partnerships
The history of the Wye Marsh NWA lends itself to many partnerships working towards conservation-based land management. Land management on the NWA is a collaborative effort carried out using a number of agreements, leases, permits and collaborative arrangements in compliance with the Canada Wildlife Act. In an effort to coordinate and maximize the effectiveness of management actions, ECCC-CWS will aim to do two things. First ECCC-CWS will assess formal and informal agreements with OMNDMNRF, DUC, Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada Holding Corporation, MTCS and FOWM. Agreements will be assessed for current alignment with the ECCC-CWS mandate and goals, then cancelled, modified or maintained as appropriate. Second, ECCC-CWS staff will renew, re-establish and maintain relationships -- with neighbours, Indigenous Peoples, government and non-government organizations, local planning authorities, conservation organizations, stakeholders (e.g., agricultural organizations), and enforcement personnel-- to facilitate a holistic and coordinated approach for the management and conservation of the Wye Marsh NWA.
5.6 Monitoring and surveys
To date, most inventories, monitoring and surveying of Wye Marsh has combined the NWA and PWA, leading to a lack of a baseline knowledge of the species and habitats found on the NWA specifically. Thus, it is imperative that a baseline for the NWA is established and ecological communities are monitored and compared to the baseline. This includes understanding the ecological communities, the flora and the fauna within the NWA. Potential monitoring activities, conducted on an as-needed basis are as follows:
- monitor habitat change (i.e. extent and quality of wetland, grassland, upland vegetation communities including the extent of invasive species) using aerial photography and site visits
- assess and track any change in habitat quality for dominant and/or significant habitat types in the NWA
- visitor participation in citizen science initiative to increase the understanding of species within the NWA
- Survey and monitor species at risk populations to evaluate effectiveness of management activities to protect and enhance critical habitats
- participate in partnerships and collaborations to address the conservation of adjacent lands and support regional conservation initiatives
- assess the number and type of projects completed on the NWA by collaborators and number of person-days invested in the NWA
- assess the changes in extent and density of invasive and non-native species, and the applicability of control and eradication methods. Work with partners within ECCC to assess the vulnerability of wetland, forest, and old field meadow habitat and wildlife communities to climate change and variability and conduct recommended mitigation actions where possible
Visitation and Compliance Monitoring:
- document and prepare annual summary of prohibited activities and authorized activities on the NWA and assess potential and cumulative impacts on wildlife and habitat. Compare with past years to assess trends including locations and types of unauthorized uses. Work with partners to reduce and mitigate unauthorized uses
- conduct biannual site visits to monitor and maintain facilities and infrastructure, assess human impacts on wildlife and habitat, monitor safety issues (e.g. visitor use) and evaluate management actions. Results will be documented and reported on a regular basis to ECCC-CWS and ECCC-WED
- conduct an annual inspection, including collecting photos, spatial coordinates and condition of all ECCC-owned infrastructure including signs, fences, buildings, trails, dams, etc
- monitor and assess compliance level with all permitting and lease agreements within the Wye Marsh NWA
Current surveys conducted at the Wye Marsh System using established protocols (at specific times of the year) provide valuable data at the site, regional and provincial scales and include the following:
- Christmas Bird Count
- Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program (birds and amphibians)
- Mute Swan Survey
- North American Trumpeter Swan Survey
- Project Feeder Watch
Many of the biological questions and issues identified from periodic surveys and research may be beyond the influence of localized management options. For example, changes in food resources, weather events, and increased incidence of botulism, toxics, disease and bird mortality may affect waterfowl and migratory bird numbers and species at risk populations. Should changes in population numbers or events be recorded, this information will be forwarded to the appropriate management authority (e.g., Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, ECCC-CWS-Ontario Region) and may be used to assist in directing mitigation, research or population recovery.
5.7 Public information and outreach
Given the wide access that the public has to the NWA, it is important that permitted activities are designed to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the NWA’s important conservation role for wetlands, migratory birds, species at risk, and encourage public cooperation in wildlife and habitat conservation. Since 1985, the FOWM has played and continues to play a central role in the delivery of interpretive programs, visitor experience, and wildlife and habitat conservation at the Wye Marsh System.
ECCC also works with partners (e.g., Indigenous Peoples, government and non-government agencies, land managers, and volunteers) to prepare and deliver public information and outreach materials, as well as programs that address conservation of the NWA and the broader landscape.
Goals for public information and outreach include the following:
- explaining the nature of NWAs, their local, regional and national importance, and the general role of the ECCC-CWS Protected Areas Network and national habitat program
- explaining the natural and historical human phenomena leading to the diversity of habitats now encountered in Wye Marsh
- explaining the importance of different habitats to migratory birds and other migratory wildlife, thus emphasizing the importance of the area’s geographic location to annual migration patterns
- outlining the importance of the Wye Marsh NWA habitats for other wildlife species, including species at risk (reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fishes, plants, etc.)
- connecting traditional uses of the lands with species recovery efforts
- explaining protection and recovery of species at risk and the role of protected areas
- promoting appreciation for habitat and wildlife at the Wye Marsh, including conservation through partnership as exemplified by non-government agency’s (NGO’s) such as FOWM
- promoting the public’s role in ongoing protection of the Wye Marsh; and
- increasing awareness of and promoting compliance with the Canada Wildlife Act, Wildlife Area Regulations, Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Species at Risk Act
To meet the above goals, ECCC-CWS public information and outreach actions include: installing signs at the NWA to identify authorized activities and NWA boundaries, reducing unauthorized access and the occurrence of prohibited activities, working with other partners (as listed above), and maintaining the ECCC-CWS Protected Areas website.
6.0 Authorizations and prohibitions
In the interest of wildlife and their environment, human activities are minimized and controlled in NWAs through the implementation of the Wildlife Area Regulations. These regulations set out activities that are prohibited (subsection 3(1)) within the NWA and provide mechanisms for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to authorize certain activities to take place in NWAs that are otherwise considered prohibited. The regulations also provide the authority for the Minister to prohibit entry into NWAs.
Activities within an NWA are authorized as listed in Schedule I.1 of the Regulations Amending the Wildlife Area Regulations and Other Department of the Environment Regulations: SOR/2020-256. These activities are authorized in the specific NWA without a permit. The Schedule provides a list of authorized activities and how these activities can be carried out (e.g. in designated areas and/or at designated times). All activities in an NWA are prohibited unlessreferenced in the Schedule. Refer to section 6.2 for a list of authorized activities for Wye Marsh NWA. In addition to the Schedule, certain activities may be authorized by obtaining a permit from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The Minister has the legislative authority to permit activities in the NWA according to the following acts and regulations:
- Canada Wildlife Act (section 12 (g)) and Wildlife Area Regulations (sections 3(2), 4 and 8)
- Species at Risk Act (sections 73 and 74)
The Friends of Wye Marsh Inc., by virtue of a current Letter of Agreement, Lease, and permits (permits subject to annual renewal with ECCC), currently has the authority to operate an interpretive program at Wye Marsh NWA and exclusive use of the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre.
6.1 Prohibition of entry
Under the Wildlife Area Regulations, the Minister may publish a notice in a local newspaper or post notices at the entrance of any wildlife area or on the boundary of any part thereof prohibiting entry to any wildlife area or part thereof. These notices can be posted when the Minister is of the opinion that entry is a public health and safety concern, there is a national disaster or other major emergency or when entry may disturb wildlife and their habitat.
For the Wye Marsh NWA, entry is allowed (not prohibited) in designated areas. Access to the Wye Marsh NWA may be restricted to designated areas and times of the year, and may be subject to payment of an entrance fee. Access to Wye Marsh NWA may be forbidden outside of certain times.
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented in this document and the notice, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument prohibiting entry.
6.2 Authorized activities
Access to the NWA is allowed via the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre (entrance off of Marsh Lane and the main parking area), administered by FOWM and may be subject to fees.
Activities authorized under Schedule I.1 of the Amended Wildlife Area Regulations for Wye Marsh NWA are:
- wildlife viewing on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas
- hiking at the locations referred to in item 1
- participation in a group meal or a group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas
- operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, at the locations referred to in item 1
- parking in designated parking areas
- non-motorized boating in designated areas
- cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in designated areas
- activities referred to in items 1 to 7 in designated areas during designated periods from sunset to sunrise
Hunting, fishing, trapping, and use of off-road vehicles are prohibited on the NWA, and on the PWA are regulated by OMNDMNRF (Refer to Appendix II).
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented in this document and the Wildlife Areas Regulations, the Regulations prevail as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.
ECCC may support research activities within the NWA if their results are likely to provide data and information on topics of interest that include: waterfowl and migratory bird population monitoring, habitat supply and quality, protection or recovery of species at risk, habitat restoration, the effects of climate change and variability on water management, the effects of human activities on wildlife and habitat, and/or the effects of invasive and non-native species on habitat and wildlife.
Canada Wildlife Act permits are required under the Wildlife Area Regulations to conduct research and monitoring in the Wye Marsh NWA. All research requests must be made in writing. Refer to Appendix III: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario): Conditions of Research Request at National Wildlife Areas. To apply for a permit to conduct research in Wye Marsh NWA and to receive instructions concerning guidelines for a research proposal, please contact:
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service
Ontario Region Permit Office
335 River Road
Upon completion of the activity, permit holders are required to submit all data/information collected as a result of a permit to ECCC-CWS Ontario Region.
Permits and notices authorizing an activity may be issued by the Minister if: the activity is scientific research relating to wildlife or habitat conservation, the activity benefits wildlife and their habitats, the activity will contribute to wildlife conservation, or the activity is not inconsistent with the purpose for which the NWA was established and is consistent with the most recent management plan. The Minister may also add terms and conditions to permits in order to minimize the impact of an activity on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
All requests for permits or authorizations must be made in writing at least 40 days prior to the date of requirement to the following address:
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service
Ontario Region Permit Office
335 River Road
Contact federal and provincial permitting offices for more information.
Canada Wildlife Act, Wildlife Area Regulations, Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and Species at Risk Act :
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service
Ontario Region Permit Office
335 River Road
Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act :
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
501 University Cr
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N6
Tel: 1-866-538-1609 (toll-free)
Email (research permits): firstname.lastname@example.org
Email (Construction/development SAR permit): email@example.com
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act; Endangered Species Act
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
Natural Resources Information Centre
300 Water Street
Telephone: 1-800-667-1940 (toll-free)
For further information, please consult the Environment and Climate Change Canada Policy When Considering Permitting or Authorizing Prohibited Activities in Protected Areas Designated Under the Canada Wildlife Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (December 2011) (Environment Canada 2011). This policy document is available on the ECCC Protected Areas website: Wildlife habitat.
The following activities will be exempt from the requirements for permitting and authorizations:
- activities related to public safety, health or national security that are authorized by or under another Act of Parliament or activities that are authorized under the Health of Animals Act and the Plant Protection Act to protect the health of animals and plants; and
- activities related to routine maintenance of NWAs, to the implementation of management plans, and enforcement activities conducted by an officer or employee of ECCC
Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. Lease, Letters of Agreement and Permits
Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. are authorized to operate the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre and deliver interpretive programs at Wye Marsh NWA under a Lease, Letter of Agreement and permits under the Canada Wildlife Act and Species at Risk Act. The restrictions and conditions of use of the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre and NWA lands ensure that all research, conservation, interpretive, education and recreation activities and projects must be permitted by ECCC under the Canada Wildlife Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, Species at Risk Act, and all other statutes as applicable.
ECCC conducts regular reviews of the Lease, Agreement, permits (annual reviews) and current FOWM activities and uses in the NWA to determine whether they are in compliance.
7.0 Health and safety
In the case of environmental emergencies, contact will be made with the Canadian Environmental Emergencies Notification System at the following address:
Website: Environmental emergencies: program
Toll free: 1-800-268-6060
All reasonable efforts will be made to protect the health and safety of the public, including adequately informing visitors of any known or anticipated hazards or risks. Further, ECCC staff will take all reasonable and necessary precautions to protect their own health and assure safety as well as that of their co-workers. However, visitors (including researchers and contractors) must make all reasonable efforts to inform themselves of risks and hazards and must be prepared and self-sufficient. Natural areas contain some inherent dangers and proper precautions must be taken by visitors, recognizing that ECCC staff neither regularly patrol nor offer services for visitor safety in NWAs.
Management activities directed at improving health and safety and reducing the risk of a hazardous occurrence include:
- installation of signs identifying safety precautions for authorized visitors
- posting of public notices within the community and tourist operations
- contaminated site assessment and remediation
- removal of abandoned building materials and debris; and
- preparation of an emergency response plan for fire and spill response
Site visits by ECCC staff will be conducted in accordance with timelines established in Section 9 Management Plan Implementation. On-site administrators will monitor facilities and infrastructure, general site and habitat conditions, human use on a day to day basis and report prohibited activities in timely manner to the appropriate agency or authorities. Periodic formal assessments of federal facilities and infrastructure will be performed by federal agencies.
In case of emergency at the Wye Marsh NWA, call 911 immediately.
If a situation warrants, multiple authorities should be advised as soon as possible. Refer to Appendix IV for a list of emergency contacts. Reports should include the date, time and nature of the incident/accident, contact names and information for the reporting party (for follow up information), and other relevant details.
Non-emergency issues related to security or health and safety issues for Wye Marsh NWA should be reported to:
Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service
4905 Dufferin Street
The management of NWAs is primarily based on three acts and the regulations thereunder:
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and Migratory Birds Regulations
- Canada Wildlife Act and Wildlife Area Regulations; and
- Species at Risk Act
To promote compliance with the Canada Wildlife Act and Wildlife Area Regulations (Appendix II), ECCC-CWS posts signs along the NWA boundaries and at main access points to identify authorized activities within each NWA and any conditions imposed on those activities.
ECCC-WED is responsible for the enforcement of federal and provincial wildlife laws. ECCC-WED officers perform on-site inspections and investigations, and patrol the NWA to promote compliance and prevent prohibited activities within the NWA.
ECCC-WED officers monitor compliance with the Canada Wildlife Act on an ongoing basis and initiate investigations as required. Officials with CWS Ontario’s Protected Areas Unit of ECCC report details from site inspections that may require enforcement action.
9.0 Management plan implementation
The management plan will be implemented over a 10-year period. Annual work plans will be developed in accordance with priorities and budgets and the details of management plan implementation will be developed through ECCC’s annual work planning process and will be implemented as human and financial resources allow. An adaptive management approach will be favoured for the implementation of the management plan. The implementation of the plan will be evaluated five years after its publication, on the basis of the actions identified in Table 5.
|Regular site inspections to maintain and monitor signs and public notices, and monitor threats and safety issues||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Reconstruction and upgrade of water main and parking lot||x||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Wye Marsh System Partner meeting||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Regular meetings with partners (e.g., OMNDMNRF, FOWM, DUC) to review agreements and collaborate on common goals||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|ECCC - OMNDMNRF Visitor use and interpretation plan||x||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Assess public information and outreach provided by Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre interpretive programs against CWS objectives||x||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||x|
|Habitat assessment – Update Ontario Ecological Land Classification mapping||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Assess and implement species at risk recovery actions||x||x||x||x||Not applicable|
|Landbird monitoring (volunteer)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Marshbird and Amphibian Monitoring Program (volunteer)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Breeding bird survey – Ontario Atlas Project||x||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||x||x||x|
|Conduct biological inventory to report on biological diversity and threats||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||Not applicable||Not applicable|
|Upland habitat management as needed (e.g. removal of invasive and non-native plants, buffer sensitive wildlife habitat from human disturbance)||Not applicable||x||x||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||x|
|Forest and old field meadow assessment and restoration as needed||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||x||Not applicable||x||Not applicable|
Collaboration with local agencies and sector organizations to contribute to the protection and conservation of wildlife species and their habitats in the NWA will be favoured.
For instance, collaborations could be developed or pursued with universities and research centres to fill scientific knowledge gaps, with the province to implement species at risk recovery measures, particularly for species under provincial jurisdiction, or with non-governmental organizations and municipal authorities to increase public awareness of the objectives of the NWA.
The main organizations likely to collaborate or to have a stake in the management of Wye Marsh NWA include neighbouring land managers, government and non-government organizations, and the local community and visitors. ECCC-CWS works with partners to meet goals for on-site management and contribute to landscape conservation. Partners for the management of the Wye Marsh NWA include Ontario Provincial Ministries, Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Township of Tay, Township of Tiny, Town of Midland, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists, Midland Club - Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Indigenous Peoples, the local community and visitors to Wye Marsh NWA and PWA.
11.0 Literature cited
Badzinski, S. S. and S. D. Earsom. 2015. The Status of Trumpeter swans in Ontario, 2015: Results of the Fifth North American Trumpeter swan Survey. Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service (Badzinski) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Earsom).
Bickis, L.M.B. 2008. Improving strategy for the Canadian Wildlife Service: A comparative study with the Parks Canada Agency and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Doctoral dissertation). University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.
Bowles, R.L. 2002. A Biological Inventory and Evaluation of the Wye Valley. Prepared for Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. Severn Sound Environmental Association. 69 pp.
Brett, J. 2018. Personal Communication. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario.
Campbell, J. 1976. Biological Inventory of Wye Marsh. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 33 pp.
Chapman, L.J. and D.F. Putnam. 1966. The Physiography of Southern Ontario, 2nd ed. Ontario Research Foundation, University of Toronto Press, Toronto.
Chittenden, R. 1990. The origin of Wye Marsh. Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre Publication, Midland, 50 p.
COSEWIC. 2019. Wildlife Species Profile: Trumpeter swan.
Cox, W. 2016. Personal Communication. Forestry Technician- County of Simcoe, Ontario.
Ducks Unlimited Canada. 2010. Final Report: Southern Ontario Wetland Conversion Analysis. Barrie (ON). 23 pp. March 2010. https://www.ducks.ca/assets/2010/10/duc_ontariowca_optimized.pdf (presently not an active link)
Dudley, N. (Editor). 2008. Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories.
Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. x + 86 pp.
Environment Canada. 2011. Policy when Considering Permitting or Authorizing Prohibited Activities in Protected Areas Designated Under the Canada Wildlife Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (December 2011).
Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada. Ottawa. vi + 41 pp.
Environment Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2003. The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Atlas: A Summary of Information (1983-1997).
French, J. G. 2001. Survey of Breeding Evidence for the Least Bittern, Black Tern, King Rail and Yellow Rail in the Severn Sound Watershed. Unpublished report. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service. 15 pp.
Friends of Wye Marsh. 2017. Annual Report, Friends of Wye Marsh, 2016.
Galloway, M., L. Bouvier, S. Meyer, J. Ingram, S. Doka, G. Grabas, K. Holmes and N. Mandrak. 2006. Evaluation of Current Wetland Dyking Effects on Coastal Wetlands and Biota. In: Mortsch, L., J. Ingram, A. Hebb and S. Doka (eds.). 2006. Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Communities: Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Response to Adaptation Strategies. Final report submitted to Climate Change and Impacts and Adaptation Program, Natural Resources Canada. Toronto (ON): Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 251 pp. + appendices.
Gartner Lee Limited. 1996. Development of a Natural Heritage System for the County of Simcoe, GLL 94-28. 62 pp.
Government of Canada. 2002. Species at Risk Act S.C. 2002, c. 29 Assented to 2002-12-12.
Government of Canada. 2019. Species at risk public registry. Accessed January 2019.
Government of Ontario. 2019. Endangered Species Act, 2007. Ontario Regulation 230/08 Species at Risk in Ontario list. Accessed January 2019.
Haelzle, J. 2019. Personal Communication. Midhurst District – Huronia Area. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Midhurst, Ontario. January 2019.
Heidenreich, C. 1971. Huronia: A History and Geography of the Huron Indians 1600 to 1650. History Sites Branch- Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 337 pp. + maps and appendices.
Hemson Consulting Ltd. 2008. Simcoe Area Growth Plan. Report Prepared by Hemson Consulting Ltd. for the County of Simcoe.
Hosier, P. E. and T. E. Eaton. 1980. The Impact of Vehicles on Dune and Grassland Vegetation on a South-Eastern North Carolina Barrier Beach. Journal of Applied Ecology 17(1): 173.
Jermyn, K. 2000. Nesting Habits and Success of Black Terns in Wye Marsh. Friends of Wye Marsh. Funding by Important Bird Area Community Action Fund and the Wye Marsh Interpretive Centre. 7 pp.
Kamstra, J. 2009. Update to Species at Risk and the Environmental Baseline of Wye Marsh Wildlife Area. Unpublished report. Friends of Wye Marsh Inc., Midland, Ontario. AECOM Canada Limited. Markham, Ontario.
Lee, H. T., W.D. Bakowsky, J. Riley, J. Bowles, M. Puddister, P. Uhlig and S. McMurray. 1998. Ecological Land Classification for Southern Ontario: First Approximation and its Application. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southcentral Science Section, Science Development and Transfer Branch. SCSS Field Guide FG-02.
Lumsden, H.G. 1991. The Ontario Trumpeter swan restoration program. Ontario Birds, 9(3): 89.
Meridian Planning Consultants Inc. 2009. Town of Midland Official Plan Review and Update Project Growth Management Strategy 79 pp.
Michalak, C. 2005. IBA Monitoring and Research Project. Circa 1986: Wye Marsh Bird Checklist, Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists. Prepared for Friends of Wye Marsh Inc.
Northcott, W. and W. Smith. 2008. Midland on Georgian Bay: An Illustrated History of Midland, Ontario. Huronia Museum. Midland, Ontario.
[OGDE] Ontario Geospatial Data Exchange Agreement. 2015. Land Information Ontario (LIO) data received through the Ontario Geospatial Data Exchange (OGDE) Agreement by Krista Holmes. Unpublished data.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1983. Huronia District Land Use Guidelines.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1984. Wye Marsh unpublished data. Midhurst District, Midhurst Ontario.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1987. Wye Marsh Wetland Evaluation Record, OMNR Huronia District, Midhurst. 30 pp.
Ontario Nature. 2020. Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. Accessed October 2020
Parsons, H, et al. 1978. Natural History of Wye Marsh. Bufo Inc., Prepared for Canadian Wildlife Service. 115 pp.
Pelletier, J. 2019. Personal Communication. Education Assistant and Stewardship Coordinator. Friends of Wye Marsh. Phone call to Graham Howell (ECCC-CWS).
Read, J. 2019. Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service. Personal Communication. Port Rowan, Ontario.
Richer, S. 2004. Nesting Success of Black Terns at Wye Marsh. Prepared for the Wye Marsh Important Bird Area.
Ross, D. A., and R.K. Anderson. 1990. Habitat use, movements, and nesting of Emydoidea blandingii in Central Wisconsin, Journal of Herpetology, 1990 – JSTOR.
Severn Sound Environmental Association. 2015. 2015 Annual Report.
Sojda, R. S. and K. L. Solberg. 1993. Management and Control of Cattails. Waterfowl Management Handbook 13.4.13, United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, USA.
Street, S. 2016. Personal Communication. Executive Director Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated. Midland Ontario. February 23, 2016.
Taylor, D. 2015. Personal Communication. Coordinator of Public and Education Programs, Huronia Historical Parks, September, 2015.
Town of Midland. 2019. Town of Midland History. http://www.midland.ca/pages/history-of-midland.aspx Accessed January 2019. (presently not an active link)
Tully, T. 2013. Personal Communication. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) incidental records at Wye Marsh Ontario 2013, 1996, 1991. Natural Heritage Education Coordinator- Awenda Provincial Park, Ontario. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario Parks to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Midhurst District office, Midhurst Ontario.
Tully, T. 2016. Personal Communication. Private consultant to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario. March, 2016.
Wilson, W.G. and E.D. Cheskey. 2001. Wye Marsh Important Bird Area Conservation Action Plan. Prepared for Wye Marsh IBA Stakeholders. 43 pp.
Appendix 1: Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator) reintroduction program at Wye Marsh, midland Ontario
The trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) was designated ‘Special Concern’ in 1978 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The trumpeter swan population in Canada declined rapidly due to the introduction of firearms to North America and subsequent hunting. By 1900, the trumpeter swan was thought to be extinct with the exception of nesting birds reported in Yellowstone National Park (1919 and 1932) (Bartok 2003). Today, hunting trumpeter swans is illegal in Canada and the United States.
In Ontario, the trumpeter swan native population was extirpated by the end of 1800s (Coxon 2002). Archaeo-faunal studies at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons national historic site (adjacent to the Wye Marsh) uncovered trumpeter swan bones that were used as evidence in support of the reintroduction of the species to its ‘historic’ range in Wye Marsh.
The Ontario trumpeter swan reintroduction program was established in 1982 by an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources biologist named Harry Lumsden (Lumsden 1991). The Wye Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area was selected as one of the key locations for a captive-breeding and release program. Other activities in Wye Marsh included construction of a Trumpeter Swan Treatment Centre (on the Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area), a monitoring station and feeding area and public interpretive programs.
The Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. (FOWM) a not-for-profit organization has managed the trumpeter swan program at Wye Marsh since 1989. In 2005, FOWM developed a comprehensive trumpeter swan database which includes nest records, overall population and mortality statistics/information. Swans are monitored annually (winter and summer) at Wye Marsh (Provincial Wildlife Area and National Wildlife Area) and the Wye Marsh area is surveyed as part of the North American Trumpeter Swan Survey that occurs across the continent every five years.
The Wye Marsh proved to be a very successful re-introduction site for the Trumpeter Swan North American Interior population: starting with the introduction of one breeding pair in 1988, the number of breeding pairs in the Wye Marsh climbed steadily to 11 pairs in 2001 and 17 pairs in 2002 (Coxon 2002). Bartok (2003) noted there were 20 possible pairs active within the study area in 2002.
The status of the trumpeter swan population in Canada was re-examined by COSEWIC and designation was changed from ‘special concern’ to ‘Not at Risk’ in 1996. There are three populations of trumpeter swans in North America: the Pacific Coast Population, the Rocky Mountain Population, and the Interior Population (includes Ontario population). The three populations are increasing, and in 2015 the Pacific Coast and Interior Populations reached their abundance objectives (ECCC 2014; Groves 2017).
In 2015, the North American abundance of trumpeter swans was estimated to be 63,016 birds (Groves 2017).
The wild Ontario population has been deemed sustaining since 2006 with 1,000 individuals and 131 breeding pairs documented at that time. The captive-breeding and release program ended in 2006. In 2015, the minimum Ontario trumpeter swan population was estimated at 2,000 individuals; in the same year 161 trumpeter swans were observed by surveyors at the “Midland/Orillia North of Lake Simcoe Area” (close to the Wye Valley and Wye Marsh NWA) (Badzinski and Earsom 2015).
The trumpeter swan population in North America has faced many challenges. In Ontario and the Wye Marsh specifically, remnant lead shot from historic waterfowl hunting in the marsh posed a serious toxicity threat to the reintroduction program (Bartok 2003). Despite the fact lead shot has been banned in the Marsh since 1993, decades of hunting with lead shot prior to the ban created a reservoir of pellets held in the aquatic substrate in the larger Wye Marsh ecosystem and the nearshore wetlands. The feeding strategy of trumpeters to deeply dig into the bottoms of wetlands and ponds exposes the birds to the pellets held within the muck layer where they can easily access lead shot. Efforts to mechanically settle out lead shot deeper into the substrate and prevent access by swans did not solve the problem. Twelve swans succumbed to lead poisoning in 2012 possibly due to exceptionally low water levels in the Wye Marsh (S. Street, personal communication, 2016). Evidence indicates that the incidence of lead poisoning has decreased in recent years but this could also be a direct result of trumpeter swan colonization of less contaminated wetlands outside the boundaries of Wye Marsh.
Badzinski, S. S. and S. D. Earsom. 2015. The Status of Trumpeter swans in Ontario, 2015:
Results of the Fifth North American Trumpeter swan Survey. Unpublished Report. Canadian Wildlife Service (Badzinski) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Earsom).
Bartok, N. 2003. Wye Marsh Trumpeter swan Population: A Database Analysis. University of Waterloo undergraduate thesis. Waterloo, Ontario.
Coxon, A. 2002. Wye Marsh Trumpeter swan Program Update 2001 to 2002. Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. Midland, Ontario.name. 2002.
Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2014. Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) [Accessed January 2019].
Groves, D. J. 2017. The 2015 North American Trumpeter swan Survey. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Lumsden, H.G. 1991. The Ontario Trumpeter swan restoration program. Ontario Birds, 9(3): 89.
Street, Sara. 2016. Personal communication. Executive Director Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated. Midland Ontario. February 23, 2016.
Street, S. 2016. Personal Communication. Executive Director Friends of Wye Marsh Incorporated. Midland Ontario. February 23, 2016.
Appendix 2: Legislation
Canada Wildlife Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. W-9)
Fisheries Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. F-14)
Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (S.C. 1994, c. 22)
Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29)
Species at Risk Public Registry
Wildlife Area Regulations (C.R.C., c. 1609)
Provincial legislation – Ontario
Endangered Species Act, 2007, S.O. 2007, c. 6
O. Reg. 230/08: Species at Risk in Ontario list
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 41
Public Lands Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.43
Trespass to Property Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. T.21
Appendix 3: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario) conditions of research request at National Wildlife Areas
Permission under the Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act to undertake research may be given subject to the following conditions:
- all requests for research must be accompanied by a written proposal outlining the objectives; project duration; collection of data, specimens and measurements (if any), number of participants, funding sources, location where work is to be undertaken, benefits to the National Wildlife Area (NWA), potential detractors; and proposed mitigation measures. All proposals will be subject to a review by the Animal Care Committee of Environment and Climate Change Canada or the submitting institution
- no research shall be undertaken without a permit issued under the Canada Wildlife Act‘s Wildlife Area Regulations, and the research must be consistent with the NWA management plan for the site and relevant legislation (e.g., Species at Risk Act or Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994)
- all researchers must conform to regulations in effect regarding the NWA
- all researchers are responsible for obtaining all permits (e.g., Species at Risk Act, Fisheries Act), approvals, and permissions (e.g., land managers, landowners), prior to commencement of the research project
- copies of raw data (field books and maps), preliminary reports of the research activities and a copy of the final manuscript must be provided to ECCC-CWS Ontario at the end of each field season
- priority will be given to researchers whose work has direct management implications for the NWA and species at risk
- applications to undertake a minor research study must be submitted to the ECCC-CWS Ontario office, in writing, prior to commencement of the project. Minor proposals without problems or issues require at least 40 days for review, processing and issuance of a permit. Major proposals (that may require expert review, are multi-year, etc.) require a longer review period (minimum six months)
- a statement must be provided to ECCC-CWS Ontario explaining why the research project cannot be undertaken elsewhere
- any proposed work is subject to the Canada Labour Code, Part II (subject to the strictest safety certification, training, operational experience and mandatory use of appropriate safety equipment)
Note: The Minister may add terms and conditions governing the activity in order to protect and minimize the effects of the authorized activity on wildlife and their habitats.
All projects and activities in the NWAs are subject to environmental screening and, if necessary, to further steps in the Environmental Assessment and Review Process of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Appendix 4: Contacts for Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area, Ontario
Contacts for the Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area, Ontario
Administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario)
44°72978' North / -79°836746' West
In case of emergency: Call 911
General inquiries: Use local telephone numbers, not 911
Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area
Emergency (911) address: 16160 Hwy 12 East
Any life-threatening emergency: 911
Ontario Provincial Police: 1-888-310-1122
To report a spill to air, land, or water, call Ontario Spills Action Centre, 24/7: 1-800-268-6060 or 416-325-3000
Poison Control Centres (Emergencies): 1-800-268-9017
Environment Canada - Ontario
Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario) Region Office: 416-739-4826
Canadian Wildlife Service (Ontario) Permit Office: 905-336-4464
Wildlife Enforcement Directorate (Ontario): 905-336-6410
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Conservation Officer) (Conservation Officer): 1-877-847-7667
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Conservation Officer) (General Inquiry): 1-800-667-1940
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry - Midhurst District Office: 705-725-7500
Georgian Bay Hospital
1112 St. Andrew’s Drive
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