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Manitoba marshes go to rehab

“A marsh needs to have droughts and flooding to maintain a balance.”

– GORD GOLDSBOROUGH

They’re trying to make Delta Marsh and Netley-Libau Marsh go to rehab and Gord Goldsborough is saying, yes, yes, yes.

The director of Delta Marsh was thrilled to hear the latest throne speech which listed marsh rehabilitation as a priority.

The speech promised a new Wetlands Protection and Restoration Initiative, including plans to restore major marshes in Manitoba, the Delta Marsh and the Netley-Libau Marsh. Research has shown the enormous value of wetlands for biodiversity, retaining and filtering nutrients, regulating Prairie water tables and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Studies also indicate that restoring the Netley-Libau Marsh could reduce nutrient loading in Lake Winnipeg by six per cent.

A follow-up announcement with timelines is expected from the government within the coming months.

For Goldsborough, a champion of marshlands, the news couldn’t come soon enough. Speaking to the Manitoba Conservation Districts Association convention, he explained how marshes are important to the health of the major lakes.

Delta Marsh is on the southern shore of Lake Manitoba and through the years provided great benefit to the lake in terms of filtering nutrients, providing breeding and feeding for fish, waterfowl habitat, and shoreline stabilization.

As the levels of Lake Manitoba became artificially maintained at a stable level, the marsh was overtaken by a hybrid cattail that is choking out other plant life.

“A marsh needs to have droughts and flooding to maintain a balance,” he said.

While there has been a change in the policy allowing the lake level to fluctuate more, Goldsborough said the cattails need to be cleared out to allow other plant life to flourish.

Netley-Libau Marsh suffers from overdredging, turning marshy channels that provided much the same benefits to Lake Winnipeg as Delta Marsh does for Lake Manitoba, into a large lake providing no filtration of water flowing into the stressed eutrophic lake.

By fixing man-made mistakes, the marsh could become a more effective tool in the cleanup of Lake Winnipeg.

The marsh cleanup will require a multi-faceted approach with many people engaged in the process.

Problem carp, that have overtaken the marshes, can be harvested. While Goldsborough said markets for carp are small due to their bad taste, they should be developed.

Longtime fisherman Robert T. Kristjanson said in order to develop those markets, a positive attitude about the carp should be implemented. “He shouldn’t talk negatively about the carp.”

Foreign markets exist for carp and Kristjanson said many countries would be interested in our harvested carp. Both men said untapped markets need to be found and exploited quickly. [email protected]

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