Cootes Paradise is a 600-hectare wildlife sanctuary highlighted by a 320-hectare coastal wetland
July 26 2011
Cootes Paradise is a 600-hectare wildlife sanctuary highlighted by a 320-hectare coastal wetland located at the west end of Hamilton Harbour, a natural bay at the west end of Lake Ontario. Within the surrounding old growth forest the sanctuary supports a wide variety of plants and animals including rare and threatened species.
Its 30,000-hectare drainage basin acts as the catchment for three main waterways: Spencer Creek, Borer’s Creek and Chedoke Creek. Several smaller streams including Westdale Creek, Long Valley Brook, Hickory Brook and Highland Creek flow into the marsh as well. The Dundas Sewage Treatment Plant and several Combined Sewage Overflows also discharge into Cootes Paradise.
Located at the crest of the Golden Horseshoe between two major yet largely fragmented biomes—the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Life Zone and the Carolinian Life Zone—Cootes Paradise is surrounded by agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and recreational lands. Its urban location makes this sanctuary a vital link to other conservation areas in the region including Spencer Gorge, Iroquois Heights and Borer’s Fall’s/Rock Chapel—part of the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Cootes Paradise Marsh is considered one of the most important migratory waterfowl staging habitats on the lower Great Lakes and the largest nursery habitat for fish in the region. The Government of Ontario has designated Cootes Paradise as a Provincially Significant Class 1 Wetland and an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). It also is listed as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) in the Hamilton Region. Other significant designations include IBA (Important Bird Area), IMPARA (Important Amphibian and Reptile Area) and National Historic Site..
Doug Worrall Photographer