Turning the tide at Wallace Bay

DUC's salt marsh restoration at Wallace Bay will help combat coastal erosion and beat back climate change

Stonewall, Manitoba, CANADA

Halifax, N.S., Dec. 21, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has completed the work that began this summer to restore a wetland site in the Wallace Bay National Wildlife Area back to its original saltwater state.

Administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service, the Wallace Bay National Wildlife Area consists of more than 580 hectares of marshes, fields, and forests. Developed in the 1970s, DUC partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to create managed wetlands that became home to species like the ring-necked duck, blue-winged teal, and American black duck. At Wallace Bay, biodiversity has flourished here for 50 years, with DUC and CWS working together to monitor habitat conditions, adjust water levels and maintain the infrastructure.

Over time, with sea levels rising, one of the segments (Wallace Bay #3) became more challenging to oversee. Tides were topping the dike, speeding up its erosion, and making it harder to maintain. The mix of saltwater and freshwater in the ecosystem wasn’t as welcoming to plants and wildlife that originally called the area home. After consultation, CWS and DUC decided the best thing to do was restore the site to the original salt marsh.

With that end goal in mind, the DUC team got to work in September 2020, breaching the dike around Wallace Bay #3 and working to carefully connect the tidal channels together again.

With the tide now flowing, salt water is pouring back into the marsh, revealing mud flats and letting the seeds of salt grasses buried deep in the soil pop back to life. Most changes will happen incrementally, so DUC has partnered with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) to monitor both the Wallace Bay site and a control salt marsh, located just a kilometre away, for at least three years. CMM is hoping to see a resurgence of sweetgrass, a common salt marsh plant, and one that’s particularly important to the Mi’kmaq.

Full story: https://www.ducks.ca/stories/atlantic/keeping-tidal-forces-at-bay/


“As sediments build up, we actually see a buffer of land created in the intertidal zone from the physical forces of the marine environment.” Millett said. “Plus, the cordgrasses take in carbon to grow, and they also solidify those soils as well. From a waterfowl perspective, these tidal wetlands will be important areas for Canada geese and American black ducks during migration.”
- Lee Millett, DUC conservation program specialist, Nova Scotia

Ducks Unlimited Canada delivers wetland conservation that benefits every Canadian. We keep the water in your lakes and rivers clean. We protect your community from the effects of flood and drought. We save wildlife and special natural places. We use science to find solutions to the most important environmental issues of the day and we collaborate with people who are helping create a healthier world. The wetlands we save aren’t just for ducks; they’re for all of us.


Levelling the dike in late summer. © DUC Main watercourse channel and mudflats at Wallace Bay, pre-construction © DUC

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