Every time you cross the Highway 7 bridge at Innisville, you are passing through an enormous wetland, including a vast silver maple swamp. The view from Highway 7 is mostly obstructed by buildings. Yet, downstream from the bridge is the Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area, 264 hectares of mostly wetland, and the McEwan Bay Provincially Significant Wetland. The open marsh and shallow water provide habitat for migrating waterfowl. Upstream from the bridge is a larger area of Mississippi River floodplain, the Steward Lake-Haley Lake Provincially Significant Wetland. Together these areas form the Innisville Wetlands Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), an official designation for a wild place that has been carefully studied by professional biologists and found to be of provincial value.
Although the Innisville Wetlands ANSI is surely a green gem, it seems to have a low profile in the county. Most people I meet are unaware of its existence or importance.
To learn more about these these wetlands, and their importance in Lanark County, you may wish to enjoy my video on the wetlands of the Mississipppi River Watershed, a talk presented to the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists in 2021.
Here some further information taken from the Mississippi Lake National Wildlife Area Management Plan:
The wetlands in McEwen Bay provide important staging habitat for significant numbers of waterfowl during migration. Ten thousand ducks can pass through the NWA in a day during fall migration, with American Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Mallard, Wood Duck and Ring-necked Duck being the most common. The wetlands are important breeding habitat for waterbirds such as the Common Loon, Marsh Wren and Pied-billed Grebe. The shallow waters of McEwen Bay provide habitat for amphibians such as the American Bullfrog and spawning areas for fish such as Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.”
“A number of species at risk listed under the federal Species at Risk Act have been reported at the Mississippi Lake NWA including the endangered Butternut, threatened Least Bittern, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Eastern Musk Turtle, and special concern Rusty Blackbird, Red-shouldered Hawk, Snapping Turtle, Monarch [Butterfly], and Broad Beech Fern. In addition, five bird species (Barn Swallow, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Wood Thrush and Eastern Wood-pewee) designated at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and the Bald Eagle and Black Tern, classified as special concern under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007, have been reported at this site.”