Rattray Marsh can be restored: consultant
By John Stewart
Posted November 22, 2007
It will take money and some sediment scraping, but Rattray Marsh can be restored to much of its former glory.
That assessment comes from consultant Glenn Harrington, hired by Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) to recommend ways to reverse the degradation the marsh has been experiencing.
Speaking at a public meeting Wednesday night, Harrington told a gathering of 30 people at Green Glade Public School the key to saving the marsh is removing 12-18 inches of mineral sediment that has built up over decades on the bottom of the environmentally significant Clarkson property. He added there is "gold" to be mined at the bottom of the wetland.
"I call it gold because not only is it rich organic soil that will feed the vegetation, but it likely contains the seeds of the original marsh," Harrington said.
It's quite possible plants that have not been seen for some time in the marsh could regenerate following restoration.
The removal of sediment alone is not enough to revive the rare coastal marsh, which Harrington called "an incredibly important resource for Lake Ontario and all of the Great Lakes."
But instead of "teeming with wildlife" and a wide breadth of plants as it should be, Rattray has been filling up over the years with soil washed down from Sheridan Creek. It has also been damaged by the destructive activity of carp and choked by cat tails.
"The marsh is not healthy," Harrington said.
The draft environmental plan would use special structures to keep large carp out of the marsh and rely heavily on a concurrent watershed study that will clean up Sheridan Creek, which feeds the marsh, through several measures.
The sediment removal would take place in six stages, with the soil being stored on site as each area is dug out and then trucked out in winter over the frozen marsh.
Depending on what's found in the sediment, it might be disposed of in local landfills, Harrington told The News. He estimated the cost of removal at $1 million.
Rattray Marsh Protection Association spokesperson Jean Williams said it's "very exciting" for longtime marsh watchers to see the problem finally being addressed.
The proposed plan is especially good because it's a step-by-step restoration, where experts will assess progress at each stage and can change direction if the plan isn't working, Williams said.
The plan will be finalized once public input is evaluated. Ward 2 City councillor Pat Mullin, who represents the area and chairs the CVC, said the City will contribute financially.
"I would hope the provincial and federal governments would come to the table as well," she added.