Appleton Wetland at Tipping Point
After thriving for thousands of years, the Appleton Wetland is now endangered due to man-made effects of summer flooding caused by manipulation of water levels for hydro power generation.
photo Al Seaman
Almonte ON, August 11, 2014 – The Appleton Wetland is under immediate threat says a detailed scientific report published by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. The report states that excessive water levels resulting from Enerdu Power Systems Inc.’s current hydro operations are drowning towering silver maple trees upstream, and that the proposed Enerdu expansion in Almonte’s heritage district will kill the very species that anchors a wetland older than the Great Pyramids or Stonehenge.
The 76-page report calls for an immediate amendment to the Mississippi River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that will allow for a “valid operational summer water level” and allow the silver maples to survive, and that “approval of the current upgrade plan for Enerdu must be delayed until the recommended amendment has been resolved.”
“The Appleton Wetland: Its Decline, Cause and Recommended Action”, is the result of hundreds of hours of work by a five-member Research Group Chaired by Cliff Bennett, the founding member of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and the club’s current President. Bennett’s Research Group colleagues include the report’s Principal Author Al Seaman, Joachim Moenig, Mike O’Malley and Howard Robinson.
“Our research results confirm that excessive water levels resulting from Enerdu’s operations are causing the die-off of the silver maples in the Appleton Wetland. In effect, the trees are drowning. The Enerdu operational limits in the existing Mississippi River Water Management Plan clearly do not conform to the priorities of the plan that rank ecological integrity above power generation. Thus an amendment to the Plan is urgently required to preserve a Wetland that has survived for millennia but is now at a tipping point,” said Bennett.
The report is also endorsed by Dr. Paul Keddy, one of Canada’s most prolific and distinguished ecology professors. Based on his 30-year career focused on the study of wetlands at the University of Guelph and University of Ottawa, Keddy stated that, “Further summer flooding will kill the last trees and the thousands of years of development will be ended abruptly. The negative effects will occur not only within the boundaries of the Appleton Wetland, but will cascade through fish and wildlife populations for many miles downstream. Restore the summer low water periods, and the trees will recover and continue to provide the ecological services that they have provided free for thousands of years.”
Continued Dr. Keddy: “Some of the Earth’s most biologically productive habitats are the great swamps that form along water courses. Known as ‘alluvial wetlands’, they are intimately connected with rivers, providing shelter for birds, breeding grounds for fish, habitat for mammals, and generating organic matter that feeds wildlife production for many miles downstream. Some of the better known examples occur in the Amazon, the Congo, and the Mekong rivers, but every large river floodplain has alluvial wetlands. In eastern Ontario, there are alluvial wetlands along rivers including the Mississippi, Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. One of the finest examples is along the Mississippi River.”
Interested members of the media will be provided with a copy of the full report with appendices on CD and/or its Executive Summary by email upon request.
NOTE: The full report is posted here on the website. A printed copy of the report and appendices are also available for reference at the Almonte branch of the Mississippi Mills Public Library.
About the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists:
Now in its 25th year of operation, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists provides opportunities to learn about and help conserve the natural world with people of all age groups and ranging from neophyte nature lovers to knowledgeable field naturalists and experts, with a focus on the pristine Mississippi River Valley. The club offers many activities, from monthly natural history talks, regular nature walks, field trips and canoe/kayak outings and other opportunities to explore many fascinating aspects of our natural world. There are also opportunities to take part in habitat creation projects, trail building, citizen science work, environmental stewardship projects, writing about natural history for club publications, communications and other volunteer work.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Principal Author of “The Appleton Wetland: Its Decline, Cause and Recommended Action”
President, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists