Wetlands of Huron County
Wetlands are incredibly important for many reasons. They provide habitat, improve water quality, and prevent flooding. Huron County’s wetlands are interesting places to explore. Hay Swamp is an 1,839 hectare provincially-significant wetland complex located outside of Exeter that drains the Ausable River and Black Creek, Here you can walk nature trails amongst local plants, fish, birds, and other wildlife. Just northeast of Goderich you will find the 500-hectare Saratoga Swamp, the largest remaining wetland in the Maitland River watershed. Saratoga is home to close to 500 species of plants and hundreds of species of birds. Hullett Marsh, located just east of Clinton, sits on the South Maitland River and is an incredible 2100 acres of wetland in a 5000-acre Provincial Wildlife Area. Hullett Marsh is home to over 180 bird species and over 400 plant species, and provides many recreational opportunities including hiking, hunting, canoeing, and horseback riding.
In Huron County alone, marshes and swamps once spanned over 69,000 hectares, or about 20% of our county by area (Ducks Unlimited Canada). Europeans rapidly drained wetlands upon settlement, resulting in a wetland loss of 90% in Southern Ontario, and 70% across the province. Huron County alone has lost nearly 53,000 hectares of wetland since pre-settlement times, meaning that wetlands now cover less than 5% of Huron County (DUC, 2010).
How you can help
The HSC has worked with conservation organizations and community members to restore wetlands across Huron County. The Huronview Project is one example of a large-scale restoration project that converted four acres of agricultural land to wetland. If you would like more information about wetland restoration, or are considering wetland restoration on your property, please contact us, Ducks Unlimited Canada, or the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. Photo: D. McCowan.