Published Friday March 13th, 2009
Marshes will see immediate attention from new eco-system fund
FREDERICTON - Wetland areas in southeastern New Brunswick will be among the first to see money from a new fund meant to maintain and protect such fragile eco-systems across the province.
The provincial government is giving $1.5 million to create a Wetlands Sustainability Fund to be carried out by Ducks Unlimited Canada, which is matching the province's contribution of $1.5 million to also go towards the fund.
Ducks Unlimited says they'll use the capital and interest collected from the fund to maintain infrastructure projects that safeguard maintained wetlands in the province. Some of this infrastructure is 30 to 35-years-old and includes 217 water control structures, 59 fishways and 136 kilometers (85 miles) of dyke systems.
"To function properly, these managed wetlands must be maintained through annual inspections, repairs and reconstructions," said Mac Dunfield, senior Atlantic director of Ducks Unlimited.
Wetland areas that will see immediate attention from the fund include the Germantown Marsh, near the Fundy Trail, which is about 2,000 acres (809 hectares) large. It will see money to repair its aging dyke systems.
The Missaquash Marsh, along the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border, has a size of about 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) and will get money to enhance its water control structure.
Altogether there's 20,539 hectares (8,312 acres) of New Brunswick wetlands maintained by Ducks Unlimited, mostly along the Northumberland Strait coastal plain, the Tantramar area of the upper Bay of Fundy, and the St. John River flood plain.
Premier Shawn Graham and Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles joined Dunfield yesterday in making the funding announcement. Graham called the new fund a "win-win" situation for protecting wetlands and supporting an ailing economy.
"In addition to maintaining this important infrastructure, we're going to be creating jobs for New Brunswickers' at a time when stimulating the economy is the top priority of our government," he said. "The work that will be carried out under the Wetlands Sustainability Fund will generate approximately 50 jobs annually, and mostly in the rural areas of our province."
Graham said some of the jobs that will spring from this fund will include work for local heavy equipment contractors and suppliers of construction materials.
In the last 40 years, Ducks Unlimited Canada has invested $40 million to conserve 21,000 hectares (51,892 acres) of New Brunswick wetlands. More than half of the maintained wetlands in Atlantic Canada are located in New Brunswick. Environmentalists say wetlands are important when it comes to providing homes for 600 species of wildlife in this province, including migratory birds, while also being beneficial to stopping the effects of flooding and erosion.