SAM Member Since: October 2004
Area Protected: 56 acres
The City of St. John's is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador. The city was incorporated in 1888 and is steeped in history and culture. Lundrigan's Marsh is St. John's' only Management Unit. It is the largest cattail marsh in eastern Newfoundland, and a birding hotspot as it is provides a refuge for many migrant bird species.
Lundrigan's Marsh Conservation Area
Lundrigan's Marsh is the largest cattail marsh in eastern Newfoundland, but it was originally a black spruce bog. Human intervention, primarily through a slow influx of lime and sediment from an adjacent cement company, increased pH and water levels and eventually resulted in the formation of a lime-enriched cattail marsh containing open-water pools. Lundrigan's Marsh is in the Virginia River Watershed. The area acts as a catchment basin and filtering system that slowly cleanses organic material, suspended particles and silt from the water draining through it before entering the Virginia River. Because of the large catchment area, the marsh also prevents flooding in the City and regulates water levels in the Virginia River Watershed.
A History of Conservation in Lundrigan's Marsh
Lundrigan's Marsh lookout is located at 335 East White Hills Road in the City of St. John's, and is bordered on all sides by commercial and industrial development. The lookout is a popular destination for birdwatchers as they look for rare and uncommon bird species, including sora (Porzana carolina), snowy egret (Egretta thula), and great blue heron (Ardea herodias).
In the 1990s, conservation efforts began when several environmental groups successfully lobbied the provincial government to divert the current Outer Ring Road. This highway would have cut straight through the middle of the wetland. At that time it was known as the "Easy-Save" Marsh, named for a local grocery store.
In 2000, a group of local naturalists approached the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to purchase the private wetland property to prevent development and further degradation of the area. The Lundrigan's Marsh Conservation and Stewardship Committee then formed. The committee included NCC, City of St. John's, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), Provincial Wildlife Division (through staff of the Eastern Habitat Joint Venture), Virginia River Conservation Society, and Department of Works Services and Transportation.
In 2002, as a result of these partnerships, NCC and Ducks Unlimited Canada purchased 25.5 acres of wetland in Lundrigan's Marsh.
In 2004, the City of St. John's signed two agreements to protect and preserve Lundrigan's Marsh for future generations. Firstly, an Implementation Agreement was signed whereby the NCC and DUC transferred ownership of the 25 acres of purchased land to the City. Secondly, the City signed a Municipal Wetland Stewardship Agreement with the provincial government, through this action the City of St. John's committed to conserving the land. Lundrigan's Marsh is currently designated as an "Environmentally Valuable Area" in the City of St. John's municipal plan. The public lookout was also opened and three interpretative panels were installed describing the ecology of the area.
In 2016 - 2018, the Northeast Avalon ACAP along with three ENGO and three Government partners, undertook a new "Friends of the Marsh" program to engage local landowners in stewardship activities, including community clean-ups, planting vegetative buffers, and scientific monitoring (Wetland Ecosystems Services Protocol and Marsh Monitoring Program NL). This program is funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, through the National Wetland Conservation Fund.
In 2018, Northeast Avalon ACAP lead two marsh clean-ups with industrial and ENGO partners. Also continuing from 2017, two Marsh Monitoring Program surveys took place to gain a more comprehensive picture of secretive marsh birds. Finally, the Northeast Avalon ACAP received funding for four Conservation NL Corps Green Team members.
In 2022, the City of St. John's employed a four person Conservation Corps NL Green Team to clear out overgrowth, spruce up the lookout area, monitor water quality within the marsh, and replace some damaged interpretive signs. SAM assisted the Green Team with wetland training in the field amongst other projects.