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Lake Ontario Wetlands

Wetland monitoring for Lake Ontario adaptive management

Background and objectives

Since 1960, the levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have been managed through dams, with a primary emphasis on efficient power generation, shipping, and protection of coastal property. It is recognized that this water regulation has altered the natural cycles of high and low levels that maintain coastal wetlands and other natural coastal systems, and an alternative regulation plan is proposed by the International Joint Commission. We have good predictions about how the new water regulation plan may help maintain coastal wetlands and wildlife but field validation is needed in order to best respond to how the effects of this management play out in the landscape. This project initiates a data collection and analysis system for U.S. wetlands to support this adaptive management program of the International Joint Commission.

The primary purpose of this project is to report on ecological metrics collected to inform adaptive management for water regulation in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. We build on other wetland sampling efforts by sampling for important wetland indicators in a manner consistent with efforts in Canada. Our sample sites were 16 randomly-selected wetlands spanning the U.S. side of Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. Included in those 16 are four each of the four primary geomorphic type: barrier beach, drowned river-mouth, open embayment, and protected embayment.

To download a copy of our final report for this GLRI-funded project (spanning sampling in 2012 and 2014), click on this link. 2016 Final Report

For more information on the International Joint Commission's initial page on the Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River discussion, click on this link: IJC LOSLR page.