CHIPPEWA BAY, N.Y. (WWTI) — A recent project worked to enhance what is known as the largest coastal shallow water ecosystem on the Upper St. Lawrence River.

The Thousand Islands Land Trust, along with Ducks Unlimited and the Chippewa Point Association partnered to complete a new wetland restoration project in Blind Bay on the St. Lawrence River this past winter. The Blind Bay Wetlands Complex is a coastal marsh that connects Blind Bay and Sand Bay at the northern tip of Chippewa Bay.

According to TILT, this recent restoration work enhanced over 25 acres of emergent marsh. The work include a series of excavated, interconnected potholes and channels, restoring water flow. TILT shared that this aimed to create open water throughout emergent vegetation as it is preferred by many wetland birds.

The Land Trust also claimed that preliminary results have indicated improved ecological conditions that have promoted native fish reproduction.

TILT added that in addition to its productive fisheries, Chippewa Bay is also used by high concentrations of waterfowl including mallard, blue-winged teal, American black duck and gadwell for feeding and resting during migration seasons.

Aerial photos of the restored area are featured below.

SUNY ESF Thousand Islands Biological Station Director John Farrell commented on how these methods will support local wildlife.

“Human disturbance, including construction of the Chippewa Point causeway, coupled with system-wide hydrologic regulation has dramatically altered the vegetation composition and water flow throughout the wetlands,” stated Dr. Farrell. “Like many coastal marshes along the St. Lawrence River, Blind Bay has been dominated by an invasive hybrid cattail, which exists as a dense monotypic stand, obstructing natural water flow, crowding out native vegetation species and providing poor habitat conditions for native fish and wildlife.”

These methods implemented have also been used in other projects on the St. Lawrence River, including French Creek, point Vivian, Cranberry Creek, Goose Bay and Chippewa Creek.

The Blind Bay Wetlands Restoration Project and others lead by the Thousand Island Trust have been identified through the Fish Habitat Conservation Strategy. This is a partnership developed by SUNY ESF and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance fish populations.

This most recent project was funded by a federal grant, North American Wetland Conservation Act Grant and funds matched from over 20 local partners.