Fort Erie wetlands restoration project entering its final stage

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Published August 25, 2022 at 3:16 pm

A Fort Erie wetland restoration and enhancement project that began in 2014 is hitting its final phase.

The project at Gonder’s Flats will continue into the fall, with project highlights including the excavation of a 1.5 hectares (4 acres) pond, hundreds of native plantings, as well as trail upgrades to enable greater public access.

Funded by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), Ducks Unlimited Canada and Land Care Niagara, prior project accomplishments at Gonder’s Flats have included the design and installation of a protective coastal habitat in the river and the establishment of the site’s first hiking trails.

Gonder’s Flat was donated to Niagara Parks in the 1930’s. This unique site holds the potential to become a highly functional wetland, due to a combination of its soil characteristics and vegetation, in an ideal location adjacent to the Niagara River.

“Taking these necessary steps to restore the precious wetland habitat at Gonder’s Flats will ensure it is preserved as both an important ecological site, while also improving its trail accessibility and providing new educational elements for visitors,” said Niagara Parks Chair April Jeffs.

The restoration organizers said visitors will also gain a deeper understanding of this rare ecosystem through new interpretive signage on the property.

Phase One consisted of removal of eroded asphalt, archeological assessment, shoreline restoration, trail installation, reintroduction of native plant species and was completed in 2015.

Phase Two saw coastal wetland habitat installed, Ontario 150 Pollinator Garden planted, educational signage added and was completed in 2018.

The pandemic threw the work schedule out the window which is why there’s a four-year gap with the final phase just beginning.

“Projects like the Gonder’s Flats wetland enhancement project are opportunities for our community to work together to chart the path that brings nature, and its benefits, to all,” said Rob Foster, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Chair.

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