Since 1971, Friends of Second Marsh, formerly the Second Marsh Defense Association (SMDA), has provided leadership in the community-based movement to secure a future for this unique wetland. Over the years, the dedication and tireless commitment of many volunteers has resulted in a remarkable partnership involving the community, business and all levels of government. Without the support of these volunteers, Second Marsh would have been lost to a harbour development project proposed in the 1960’s.
Substantial habitat destruction was caused to the marsh in the 1970’s when the Oshawa Harbour Commission planned to dredge the marsh for harbour development. In addition, development in the upstream watershed altered the flow regime and increased sedimentation and turbidity in the marsh. The combination of these factors caused substantial habitat degradation.
When harbour development plans were abandoned, ownership of the marsh was returned to the City of Oshawa. Restoration efforts were initiated by Environment Canada and the City, in conjunction with Friends, in the 1990’s, and have been taken over by Ducks Unlimited Canada. Through these efforts, productive and diverse habitat conditions are being re-established in Second Marsh.
Friends’ role has evolved over the years. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the SMDA focused on saving the marsh from harbour development. During the early to mid 1990’s, Friends was a major partner in the implementation of Environment Canada’s $1.3 million Second Marsh restoration program. Today Friends’ role in the Second Marsh has been redefined through the City of Oshawa’s Second Marsh Management Model. This model is overseen by a management committee which includes representatives from the Central Lakes Ontario Conservation Authority, City of Oshawa, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environment Canada, Friends of Second Marsh, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Under this agreement, Friends’ responsibilities are for education, interpretive services and watershed stewardship programming. Friends believes the best way to protect Second Marsh is by connecting people to the values of the wetland and the watershed. It will continue to do this by developing strong community-based programming. Ducks Unlimited Canada has assumed the mandate to restore and manage the Marsh, the City of Oshawa is responsible for operations and maintenance and Environment Canada and the Conservation Authority (CLOCA) are responsible for monitoring.
Ducks Unlimited, as managers of the Marsh, have begun restoration work in Second Marsh intended to continue the initiative that was started by Environment Canada in the 1990’s. They have constructed an earthern dyke and creek diversion scheme to control water levels in the marsh, restrict carp access and divert sedimentation. Once completed, the program is expected to enhance biodiversity in the Marsh and greatly expand the extent of high quality habitat.
Throughout its history, Friends has partnered with many organizations for rehabilitation/restoration; trails and signage; education; operations; and stewardship. Many of these organizations continue to support Friends and we look forward to strengthening these relationships as we work towards establishing the Great Lakes Wetlands Centre.
We also wish to acknowledge our Volunteer Leaders, Planting Volunteers, Monitoring Volunteers, Trail Blazers, and our loyal members.
Finally, it is with the support of our key partners, the City of Oshawa, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Environment Canada, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Ontario Power Generation and and General Motors of Canada Company, that Friends has been able to continue to provide educational and outdoor opportunities for the community.