Grassroots Group Wages Legal Battle to Protect Special Wetlands

Grassroots Group Wages Legal Battle to Protect Special Wetlands

by Glen Dale, Shoreline Stewardship Association of Cloud Bay and Little Trout Bay

Appreciation and excitement greeted special summer visitors to Cloud Bay, a settlement of 40 dwellings. Our unique Lake Superior warm-water wetland is 24 miles south of Thunder Bay, Ontario.

At issue is one of the few “Provincially Significant” Lake Superior nurseries. An Environmental Impact Study requested by trailer camp developers suggested mitigation to minimize damage to the wetland. The wetland that would be affected if the trailer camp is built is part of only one percent (yes, just 1%) of its kind on the Ontario shoreline.

Responding to our plea, several scientists arrived this summer to check out the site. From Hamilton came McMaster University’s Wetland Research team. These scientists were guests of the neighborhood group who are waging the legal battle to protect Cloud Bay. Other scientists who took interest included Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser, Wetland Research Director, and PhD candidate-botanist Sheila McNair, who studied the aquatic life of the wetland. Joining Sheila in August was Dennis Albert, renowned Michigan wetland and upland botanist. They observed uncommon marsh vegetation in abundance. If destroyed, a 100-year regeneration period would be involved (that’s if the site is not further disturbed!) Additionally, a team of four biologists* netted and released exceptional numbers of small fish, an indication that Cloud Bay contains major feeding and fish spawning grounds.

Local Council has approved the trailer camp. The Shoreline Stewardship Association—all volunteers—is appealing the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. Two years of fundraising, community awareness, and talking to government officials continues. After studying, and enthusiastically paddling the marsh on much of their own time, our lawyer and planner, who are experts in their fields, believe we can win the appeal.

We are grateful to receive support from both Canadian and American friends. It inspires us to rediscover this Binational Forum LaMP 2000 report item: “The greatest threats to Lake Superior’s wetlands are water level regulation and site specific stresses such as shoreline development” [(Ch 6.1.7.2)—Chow-Fraser and Albert, 1998)”].

For more information, please call Glen Dale at (807) 964-2920 or email: gbdaleview@aol.com

*Student scientists who identified, measured, and counted fish at Cloud Bay include: Titus Seilheimer (Wisconsin); Kim de Mutsert (The Netherlands); and Kristina Kostuk and Brian Reich (south Ontario).

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