Current Watershed Conditions
Water Statement
Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA)
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Wetland Cover

Sault Ste. Marie Region
Wetlands are areas that are submerged or permeated by water -- either permanently or temporarily -- and are characterized by plants adapted to saturated soil conditions. Wetlands include fresh and saltwater marshes, wooded swamps, bogs, and seasonally flooded forests - any land area that can keep water long enough to let wetland plants and soils develop.
They are the only ecosystem designated for conservation by International Convention. Canada currently has 37 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).
Wetlands are indispensable because:
  • they absorb the impact of hydrologic events such as large waves or flood waters;
  • they filter sediments and toxic substances;
  • they supply food and essential habitat for many species of fish, shellfish, shorebirds, waterfowl, as well as fur-bearing mammals;
  • they provide products for food (wild rice, cranberries, fish, wildfowl), energy (peat, wood, charcoal), and building material (lumber); 
  • they are valuable sources for education, research, and recreation.
In the past wetlands were considered wasteland, and many of southern Canada's wetlands were drained or filled in so that they could be farmed or built on. Only recently have people rediscovered the value of wetlands and started to make efforts to protect these unique ecosystems. Wetlands remain at risk from increasing urban development and are still disappearing under the pressure of human activities and the effects of pollution and climate change.

In the Sault Ste. Marie Region Watershed  

The percentage of wetland cover was measured with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using available vegetation and watercourse data from Land Information Ontario (LIO).

What Did We Find?

  • In sub-watersheds, Grades range from A to F, with an overall Grade of B.
  • Only 9 percent of the Sault Ste. Marie Region area is covered by wetlands, which includes two Provincially Significant Wetlands. 
  • Urban development within the eastern sub-watersheds is highly concentrated, and therefore has a reduced number of wetlands.
  • Wetland cover is important for: storing water and absorbing the impacts of flooding, maintaining water quality by filtering sediments and toxic substances, supplying vital food and habitat for many species, and providing recreational areas for activities such as hiking, and birdwatching along with traditional areas for fishing, hunting, and trapping.