By the mid 1800's,
land clearing had a negative impact on Second Marsh and the watershed.
The forest clearing led to downstream sedimentation of the wetland
with eroded materials.
Human use of adjacent lands and the construction
of the C.N.R. rail line and Highway # 401 further reduced the size
and function of the Marsh and cut off historic wildlife corridors
from upstream areas.
From 1952 to 1971, effluent from the Harmony Creek
Water Treatment Plant was directed into the Marsh.
this period and continuing even today, urban and agricultural development
within the Watershed, with increased use of storm sewers and land
clearing is taking its toll on the Marsh and its Watershed.
For many decades, the Marsh was subject to economic
exploitation through neglect, misuse and a lack of understanding.
The cumulative effect of increased upstream erosion and subsequent
sedimentation coupled with pollution and loss of habitat all played
a role in the degradation of the Marsh ecosystem.
Waterfowl Banding Program
Oshawa Fish & Wildlife Advisory Committee established a waterfowl
banding station at Second Marsh, which operated from 1956-1973.
During that time 32,633 waterfowl were banded under the direction
of Mr. Ed Kroll. It was reputed to be the second largest banding
station in Ontario and the fifth largest on the Atlantic Flyway.
Banding ceased in 1973 by order of the Oshawa Harbour Commission.
Some additional banding was done in 1978 by Canadian Wildlife Service
personnel and an additional 1,084 waterfowl were tagged.
addition to the waterfowl-banding program, Second Marsh gained further
ornithological fame in 1962, when Mr. George Scott confirmed the
first nesting of Little Gull (Larus minutus) in the Western
Hemisphere at the site.
Harbour Expansion Proposal
In the mid 1960's, the Oshawa Harbour Commission
(OHC) identified the Marsh as a strategic site for a deep-water
port. With the promise of renewed economic activity, ownership of
the Marsh was transferred to the OHC from the City of Oshawa.
The Oshawa Fish & Wildlife Advisory Committee
advised and lobbied against the sale but the transfer took place
in 1970. A body of naturalists and conservationists took up the
struggle to advocate on behalf of the Marsh in the early 1970's
culminating in the creation of the Second Marsh Defense Association
in 1972 (incorporated in 1976). The organization, headed by Jim
Richards and Bob Mills aggressively challenged the harbour expansion
proposal at that time.
A long and often bitter battle to save the Marsh
was waged between 1972 and 1984. Finally, in 1984, the OHC and the
Federal Department of Transport declared Second Marsh as "excess
land", and a slow process to transfer ownership back to the
During OHC ownership, many physical changes had
been inflicted on the Marsh. The most devastating was the dyking
of the original western outlet to Lake Ontario. After being blocked
over the winter of 1973-4, the barrier beach washed out at the east
end. With the onset of spring floods that ensued, much of the vegetation
and vegetated islands within the Marsh were destroyed and washed
out into Lake Ontario. The new outlet then forced water entering
the Marsh from the northwest corner to travel further to exit into the Lake
in the southeast corner, which resulted
in even greater and more rapid deposition of silt to accumulate
within the Marsh. The Marsh essentially transformed into an open
body of shallow water and filled in with sediment.
Preparing to play a more active role in the fate
of Second Marsh, the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada)
conducted a comprehensive study of the Marsh. The results were published
in a 1983 report entitled "Oshawa Second Marsh Baseline Study"
(Cecile, 1983), which outlined the current attributes and potential
problems for the site. This document was a wildlife inventory and
formed the basis of a preliminary remediation plan.
Management Plan for Second
From 1984 through to 1991 the Second Marsh Defence
Association (SMDA), now known as Friends of Second Marsh, worked
to get the Marsh returned to the City of Oshawa, to encourage the
City to accept it and to urge the City to establish a team that
would explore land-use and rehabilitation measures for the Marsh.
In 1991 the City of Oshawa formed a ten-member
Steering Committee of stakeholders in to prepare a "Management
Plan" for the Marsh. Upon the completion of the Plan, it was
endorsed by City Council in 1992. A network of partnerships was
developed between the City of Oshawa, Environment Canada and SMDA
to implement the Council-approved recommendations outlined in the
The Steering Committee was comprised of a ten
representatives from government and non-government organizations.
Leaders of the first phase of restoration, who were also members of
this committee included Mr. Noel Hutchinson, (Community Services
Department, City of Oshawa), Ms. Nancy Patterson (Wetlands Specialist,
Environment Canada) and Mr. Jim Richards (SMDA) who assumed the implementation and leadership role and planned
the day-to-day business of restoring the Marsh.
In 1993 a new team of stakeholders was formed
when ownership of the Marsh was transferred back to the City of
Oshawa. It was also at this time that SMDA became Friends of Second
Marsh. During this period Friends was actively
involved in the management and restoration of the Marsh.
Under a new management agreement for Second
March, implemented in 1993, Friends' current responsibilities are
for education, interpretive programs and watershed stewardship.
Friends believes the best way to protect Second March is by
connecting people to the values of the wetland and the watershed.
It will continue to do this by developing strong community-based
programming. Ducks Unlimited Canada has assumed the mandate to
restore and manage the Marsh, the City of Oshawa is responsible for
operations and maintenance and monitoring is carried out by
Environment Canada and the Conservation Authority (CLOCA).