By Tina Comeau
Ducks Unlimited says a multitude of factors went into its decision to replace a water control structure in Melbourne that will preserve a wetland there.
Among these factors, the organization says, was definitely the level of community support in favour of saving the wetland.
“This caused us to reassess the situation, and we decided that this was a project that we would be able to justify continuing to support,” says Tom Duffy, manager of Atlantic operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada.
A couple of years ago Ducks Unlimited had indicated that it intended to drain a 24-acre freshwater wetland in Melbourne and return the area to its original saltwater marsh state.
Local residents were not in favour of this plan, saying it would significantly alter the appearance of the area and would displace certain kinds of wildlife.
But complicating the situation, said Ducks Unlimited at the time, was an aging 25-year-old water control structure that would cost, potentially, around $200,000 to rebuild. Back in 2010 Ducks Unlimited said it couldn’t, on its own, afford to rebuild the structure, but it also couldn’t afford to leave it be. The structure is located close to a culvert that runs under the William Allen Road and if the structure ever failed, there was concern that the road would be washed out, cutting off residents from the main road. Repairing such a situation would be even more costly, worried Ducks Unlimited, not to mention the safety concern and liability issue it posed.
Rather than fight with Ducks Unlimited on the issue, the community opted instead to work with them to find a solution.
Duffy says while the project is still very costly, Ducks Unlimited is receiving help to fund it from the federal and provincial governments through the Atlantic Habitat Partnership Initiative.
“That additional support is basically what provided the means to allow us to make the decision to replace the structure,” says Duffy.
Construction of a new structure to replace the old one will take place this summer. Ducks Unlimited has an environment permit to carry out the work that is valid from June 1 to Sept. 30.
Ducks Unlimited has been also been working with individual landowners, who have all re-signed 30-year conservation agreements allowing Ducks Unlimited to manage the structure for another 30 years.
“As well, we indicated to the community early on that we will need their assistance in supporting this project and its future maintenance, and that still holds true,” says Duffy. “This pond is definitely near and dear to the hearts of the local residents, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that it stays around for a long time.”