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

Benefits of Wetlands
Improve water quality, regulate water flow for drought and flood management, provide wildlife habitat, provide carbon storage, contribute to climate change adaptation, provide opportunities for recreational fishing and hunting.
Wetlands are submerged or permeated by water -- either permanently or temporarily -- and are characterized by plants adapted to saturated soil conditions. Wetlands include fresh and salt water marshes, wooded swamps, bogs, seasonally flooded forest, sloughs -- 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. They have been recognized as particularly useful areas because:
  • they absorb the impact of hydrologic events such as large waves or floods;
  • they filter sediments and toxic substances;
  • they supply food and essential habitat for many species of fish, shellfish, shorebirds, waterfowl, and furbearing mammals;
  • they also provide products for food (wild rice, cranberries, fish, wildfowl), energy (peat, wood, charcoal), and building material (lumber); and
  • they are valuable recreational areas for activities such as hunting, fishing, and birdwatching.
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 upon. Recently the value of wetlands has been recognized and efforts have been made to protect these ecosystems. However, they are still disappearing under the pressure of human activity, and are being threatened by air pollution and climate change. (Source:

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 Ontario Land Information Data.

What Did we Find?

  • Grades range from A to F.
  • The sub-watersheds within the western portion of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Watershed have a great number of wetlands and therefore receive grades ranging from A to C for wetland cover.
  • The sub-watersheds within the eastern portion of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Watershed have fewer wetlands than the western portion resulting in very poor grades.
  • Urban development within the eastern sub-watersheds is highly concentrated, and therefore has a reduced number of wetlands.
  • 9% of the Sault Ste. Marie Region Watershed is covered by wetlands, this includes two Provincially Significant Wetlands. Environment Canada suggests that 10% wetland cover is important for a healthy watershed.
Grades ranged from A to F   
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