The Kennebec Wetland Complex – A Provincially Significant Wetland

In 1993, when Ontario’s wetlands were being surveyed and catalogued, Rob Snetsinger was contracted to do a wetland in what was then the Township of Kennebec.

The protocol for this work dictated that if another wetland was encountered within 750 metres of the one being surveyed, they should simply be counted as one complex wetland. Snetsinger kept finding wetlands within 750 metres of the previous one until he had traveled from Kennebec Lake in the south to Big Gull Lake in the north, to Hungry and Mink Lakes in the east and to Highway 41 in the west. The complex covered, at least, 2500 hectares or over 6000 acres. It included three types of wetland – fens, swamps and marshes.

The wetland types included up to 11 different forms of plant communities which gave it high biodiversity values and high scores in the provincial ranking. The surrounding habitats also were diverse, including pasture, abandoned agricultural land, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, open lakes and creeks, and undulating terrain. Again adding to the ranked value. Three provincially significant animal species were recorded.

The wetlands also had special value because they were connected by surface flow to other wetlands, lakes and creeks both close by and up to 4 kilometres away.

Although entirely on the Precambrian Shield, the Kennebec Wetland Complex scored 12 out of 18 for its production of wood products and also was given maximum ratings for wild rice production, for commercial fish, bullfrog production and furbearer production.

The complex also was given high scores for recreational uses, but scored low for absence of human use, educational and public awareness, facilities and programs in place and for research use.

The survey ranked the complex in terms of its hydrological function in the Salmon watershed. The catalogued area of the wetland complex was 2500 hectares but the size of the catchment basin upstream of the wetland complex was estimated at 27,500 hectares which means that the wetland complex will significantly attenuate any flooding downstream. Water quality improvement by the complex was estimated at 75 out of a maximum score of 100 but Snetsinger noted that his score was probably an underestimate and he estimated the long-term nutrient trapping capability at the maximum, 100%.

The Kennebec Wetland Complex is an outstanding feature of the Salmon River watershed and is a dominant feature of the upper watershed. The healthy functioning of the watershed, reflected in the delayed runoff and the low peak of runoff after major storms is related to this and other wetlands. See The Salmon River Watershed – Jewel of Eastern Ontario for details the healthy functioning of our watershed.


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