Cootes Paradise Marsh is the largest wetland at the western end of Lake Ontario. These lands represent 99 percent of the unaltered lands along the local Lake Ontario shoreline.
Originally a seasonally flooded river mouth marsh providing habitat to a wide variety of life forms, the habitat went into decline beginning in the late 19th century, a result of water pollution, human overuse and the introduction of carp. By 1985, 85 percent of its plant cover was lost and 90 percent of the remainder was non-native species.
However, since the introduction of the Fishway and increased efforts to reduce pollution in the marsh and re-plant native plant species, the marsh has witnessed significant improvements. In 2013 alone, over 35 hectares of submergent vegetation was added to the marsh.
Cootes is designated a nationally Important Bird Area (IBA), a seasonal fish nursery for Lake Ontario, home to the highest concentration of plant species in Canada at over 750 native species, and hosts over 30 mammal species. If you have not had the chance to canoe Cootes Paradise, it is a must-do and a great way to explore the area.