Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Making a splash – locals promote World Wetlands Day

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
January 31, 2005

Making a splash – locals promote World Wetlands Day

HeronWorldwide, February 2 is celebrated as World Wetlands Day. The theme for 2005 is the cultural and biological diversity of wetlands and the slogan “There’s wealth in wetland diversity – don’t lose it”, provides an especially fitting occasion to promote local awareness of the importance of wetlands and activities geared toward this.

“Increasingly, the eyes of the world are focused on local stewardship roles with heavy reliance on citizen involvement to protect the natural environment,” says Cliff Bennett, an amateur naturalist, former politician and past president of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN). “We need to engage the public and do everything we can to oversee the ongoing protection of our wetlands and wildlife habitat, even those in our local urban areas.

The Nature Lover’s Bookshop in Lanark Village will host an informal discussion on wetlands as an awareness raising activity February 6; in Carleton Place, the Good Food Company Restaurant will feature a range of fish and rice dishes on the menu throughout February; several students in local schools will work to raise awareness in their classrooms and schools following exams and local teachers have expressed an interest in participating in activities. Other efforts to raise awareness include the distribution of posters and information packages to schools, educators and youth groups, as well as organizing slide shows and other public events.

“Often, we forget what a valuable resource our wetlands are and the benefits they offer to us,” says MFVN member Celina Tuttle. “I am hopeful these activities will lead to broader discussion and other activities throughout the year.” Tuttle is preparing to launch a frog watch of the vernal pond at the end of her block. She remembers a chorus of frogs there each spring when she first moved to the area. However, in recent years the frogs haven’t been as vocal. “I’d like to understand why that is,” she says, “and get to know my neighbours and others in the community in the process.” Tuttle says she became involved in organizing activities around World Wetlands Day to promote collaboration among local organizations and people that carry out activities benefiting wetlands, wildlife, and people.

The MFVN works to increase public interest in and appreciation and respect for the natural world within the Mississippi River watershed. This area includes Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place, Lanark Highlands, Beckwith and surrounding areas. The group offers monthly events, from presentations to field trips, on a range of topics.

For more information:

Celina Tuttle, Carleton Place, tel: 613-253-3135, email:

Cliff Bennett, Almonte, tel: 613-256-5013, email:


World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 138 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1328 wetland sites, totaling 111.9 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Canada on 15 May 1981. Canada presently has 36 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 13,051,501 hectares.

Wetlands provide many valuable functions such as:

  • Recharge and discharge of groundwater
  • Flood and storm surge protection
  • Critical habitat for wildlife
  • Act as a natural filter and removes contaminants (i.e. improves water quality)
  • Wetland vegetation (e.g. grasses, sedges, and cattails) traps sediment and prevents the loss of land (i.e. erosion)
  • Nutrient retention, removal and transport
  • Recreation, cultural and educational purposes.
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Conservation: Wetland Protection Policies

Wetland Protection Policies recommended by MVFN (2002)
Here is the final wording arrived at regarding protection of locally significant wetland  resources in Mississippi Mills, which was submitted on Friday September 13, 2002 to the Mississippi Mills Official Plan Steering Committee.Thank you to the dozen or so members who sent in comments and suggestions.

Recommendations from Preliminary Issues Report from MVFN.

This report was arrived at through a group meeting with representative from Ducks Unlimited, follow-up requests for comments from group members, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Canadian Environmental Law Association, OMNR officials and members of MVFN plus research of relevant documents and publications. (See references below)

Issue 3.1 statement 1

…………should we protect locally significant wetlands (LSW’s)?

1) It was a unanimous “yes”. MM should establish a policy of precaution-protection until adequate and informed data and science is available to better understand the function and value of  wetlands locally and within a watershed context.

2) The group felt we should make the first entry in the OP not too detailed but to build in triggers or flags that would show up in site-specific cases concerning LSW’ s.

3) Consultation, connectivity and education should be the main process used in protection of our wetlands.

4) Locally Significant Wetlands (LSW’s) should be identified, through a classification process. The most significant ones should be on an initial list in the OP, with provision for additions at later dates though amendment to the OP.

5) Most locally significant wetlands (4-7) have already been identified by MNR. These should be our initial list entered in the OP.

6) Stewardship Council, field naturalists, Ducks Unlimited, local Fish and Game Clubs, landowners  and EAC should be involved in the education process.

7) A buffer zone should be mentioned but not defined except in definition section. Buffer requirements should be site specific as each case arises.

8 ) At least initially, only permanent LSWs should be considered for listing.

9) Strong recognition of land owners as stewards should be registered in the OP.

10) References must be made to other relevant Acts i.e.: Drainage, Riparian Rights etc.

11) We should steer clear of the beavers issue and also temporary wetlands.

12) Paramount is recognition of importance of all wetlands in their role of protecting and enhancing the ground water.

13) Private landowners impacted by enforcement of regulations concerning LSWs should be considered for compensation where applicable

14) As the natural heritage policy, as set forth in the PPS, allows for varying degrees of protection at the municipal level, MM should take a progressive approach and strive for the Pathfinder Policies level.

15) As MM is divided almost in half between the Canadian Shield and St.Lawrence/Great Lakes Lowland significant areas, it is the recommendation of this report that the PPS concerning Canadian Shield wetlands be adopted for all of MM.

16) Issues involving LSWs should be discussed with land owner groups on a continuing basis.

17) MM must strive for broad public support on wetland policies implementation.    


Ducks Unlimited-Scott Muir, Jamie Fortune (Ducks Unlimited is conducting a pilot project to test new technologies for wetland identification and delineation. Results should be available by year’s end.)

Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Linda Pimm.

Canadian Environmental Law Society-Theresa McLenaghan

OMNR-Shaun Thompson

Natural Heritage Planning Policy in Ontario-A Review of County and Regional Plans Aug. 1999

Natural Heritage Reference Manual for PPS 2.3    OMNR June, 1999

Rural Wetlands in Ontario-A Guide to Landowners-Ducks Unlimited

Caring For Your Land-A Stewardship Handbook-University of Guelph 1998

Environmental Commissioner’s Reports-All issues

Submitted by Cliff Bennett on behalf of MVFN    

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