The Hutton Creek Wetland is part of a 1445 hectares (3,571 acres) provincially significant wetland complex locatedinElizabethtown-KitleyTwp.about5kmsouthoftheVillageofLombardy.TheRideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) owns the dam at Motts Mills. LGSC has partnered with RVCA and Ducks Unlimited to replace the old dam and restore the wetland’s diversity. The Council members involved in this project include Dwayne Struthers and Shaun Thompson.
In order to facilitate the construction of the new dam, RVCA secured ownership of the entire dam through a combined purchase and large land donation agreement. This also agreement also included ownership of the property immediately downstream from the dam.
After several years of delays construction finally began on replacing the Motts Mills dam in August of 2015. The dam was replaced with an earthen berm water structure. The berm was installed just upstream from the old dam. It is made of rock and clay and has two steel inlet chambers to adjust or hold water levels. Ducks Unlimited, who has vast experience and knowledge in designing and building these structures for wetland purposes, oversaw the construction. The South Kanata Development Corporation voluntarily chose to make a $250,000 contribution to the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation to jumpstart the dam replacement and wetland restoration.
Since the construction of the old dam in 1952, the Motts Mills Dam has played an important role in maintaining an artificially controlled water level on about 772 hectares of the Hutton Marsh. The provincially significant wetland has been well known in the past as excellent waterfowl habitat as well as important habitat for a diversity of other species. Over time, the amount of open water area in the wetland has diminished along with the diversity of plants, habitat and wildlife. There has been ongoing interest in developing a plan to restore the wetland.
Now that the new dam is in place plans and approvals for a drawdown have been finalized, funding opportunities are being explored and hopefully work will start this summer to create more open water habitat in the wetland.
A 3-4 year plan has been developed by RVCA (in consultation with the Advisory committee) for the Hutton Creek Wetland drawdown. In order to develop channels and pools of open water work must first determine: a. what type of work has to be done to create channels and pools of water; b. what type of bottom (rock or clay) exists below the cattails and sediment in the wetland; c. the location of the channels to be developed; and, d. the best location for the pools of water (a clay base is ideal). The research information would also assist in identifying the type of equipment that would be best suited to completing the excavation for the channels and pools (a backhoe, long reach machine, high hoe or a bulldozer).
In 2017 some test holes were dug in the ice and some soil analysis conducted to determine the soil substrate in the wetland and the creek. The conclusion of this work was the need to dig more test holes to find some better locations to do wetland improvements.
In 2018 more holes were dug to continue the research into where new channels and open water will be developed. This work is being done in partnership and guidance from Ducks Unlimited. RVCA is also investigating some Blanding's turtle opportunities.
Also, in 2018 the partners worked out the details of the first phase of restoration and successfully raised funding for the project to start in 2019.
This first project will be undertaken on property owned by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and would be available for multiple use activities by the public, including hunting.
The project is scheduled to be completed December 2019 –March 2020 and will have the following purposes:
a) The creation of three ponds totaling 1.5 acres acting as a quiet area for waterfowl to rear their young and an area for shorebirds to feed.
b) The creation of 500 meters of channels to encourage more habitat and wildlife diversity and providing new fish passages and areas for spawning and feeding as well as creating critical life stage areas for amphibians, turtles and other wildlife.
c) Increasing waterfowl hunting opportunities is a major objective.
d) Promotion of the benefits of the project and feature the many partners by designing and installing interpretive signs on site
e) Involve and engage many local community minded partners including hunters, observers, outdoor enthusiasts and land owners.
Dwayne, Shaun and Kerry also conducted a Marsh Monitoring on the Hutton Creek Wetland Complex in the spring of 2017, focusing on amphibians. The program is designed to collect information about the presence and abundance of bird and amphibian species in Great Lakes coastal and inland marshes. It will be interesting to compare the results of the survey to the survey results after the wetland has been fully restored.