Last week, wetland restoration activities began on the Otter Creek along Route 12 in the Village of Alexandria Bay, near the Big M. The Otter Creek Wetland Restoration Project will help restore open water habitat for northern pike, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other riverine wildlife. The work is being conducted on part of the Otter Creek Preserve, owned by the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT), and is being funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Fish Enhancement, Mitigation, and Research Fund (FEMRF).
Many of the coastal marshes along the St. Lawrence River, eastern Lake Ontario and their tributaries are dominated by an invasive hybrid cattail. These cattails form thick mats that provide little benefit to wetland-dependent wildlife. In an effort to restore fish spawning habitat, restoration crews are excavating two pools in the dense cattail mats adjacent to Otter Creek. Connecting channels will be dug to provide connectivity to the main creek branch. The specialized equipment will pierce through the cattails and the excavated material will be piled as habitat mounds that support native biota. In addition to enhanced habitat, the restoration project will help improve the wetland’s capacity for flood mitigation.
These methods have been successfully implemented elsewhere on the St. Lawrence River, including French Creek, Point Vivian, Cranberry Creek, and Goose Bay. Preliminary results of the channeling and potholing indicate improved ecological benefits. Pre- and post-restoration monitoring will be conducted by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS).
To learn more about the Otter Creek Wetland Restoration Project, please contact Justin Ecret, USFWS Fish Biologist, at (607) 753-9334. To learn more about the Otter Creek Preserve and Nature Trail, please contact the Thousand Islands Land Trust, at [email protected].