McTavish Wetlands Nature Reserve. Photo © Mike Bryan

McTavish Wetlands

On April 11, 2022 TBFN purchased a 160 acre block of natural wetland in McTavish Township, Shuniah.  The property was bought from an estate.  The main reason for the purchase was to conserve the wetlands which cover most of the property.  The reserve protects a conifer swamp and riparian habitat along the lower reaches of Welch Creek as the creek approaches its mouth on Black Bay.  Welch Creek is the main drainage route from the large McTavish Wetland complex which lies south of Highway 11-17 and Pearl Lake.  Protecting this ground water source and drainage through Welch Creek supports water quality in Black Bay.  Species such as Lake Sturgeon, American White Pelican, Bald Eagle, and Caspian Tern depend on the bay’s clean shallow waters and ample fish stocks.  

The treed wetland, fens, and thick layers of peat here sequester carbon, helping to slow climate change.  Leaving the land in a natural forested state prevents loss of shade, desiccation of the peat, temperature rise, and the rapid moisture evaporation and run off that occur with clear cutting.  Protecting the carbon captured in large northern peatlands and forested swamps is an effective tool in fighting global warming. 

Access to the new reserve is challenging and involves bush-whacking in from the south end of the Superior Shores Road (east side of Black Bay).  There are no trails on the property – it is completely natural.  TBFN members snow shoed to the property in winter but we look forward to learning much more about it in the coming spring and summer months.