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'Build it and they will come' and wildlife did!

Ruth and Greg Strapp at their wetland.


Denfield-area couple enjoys nature in wetland they created
Local landowners are creating habitat, protecting water quality through wetland creation and other rural stormwater improvements thanks to grants, staff support 

Ruth and Greg Strapp are two of the area’s landowners enhancing wetlands or making other stormwater management improvements with grant support and technical expertise from a local wetlands program. They see plants and animals in the wetland they don’t see anywhere else on their property.

“We’ve seen things here we’ve never seen before in the 40 plus years that we’ve lived here,” according to Ruth. “It’s a constant source of entertainment. There’s always something new to learn from nature and the wildlife that have moved in here.”

The Strapp family has seen Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Snapping Turtles, and Painted Turtles in the wetland. They have had visits from Great Blue Herons and Green Herons too. There are Mallards and other ducks. “The ducklings are a lovely thing to watch in the spring,” Ruth said.

(Visit our turtles web page).

Even before the area was converted to a wetland, the Strapps enjoyed the frogs but the variety of frog species has expanded since the wetland was created. “It’s not just the little Peepers anymore,” Ruth said. Now, frog species range from Leopard Frogs to Green Frogs. The couple enjoys the soothing sounds of the frogs at night. Greg says, sometimes, “I’ll come home, at night, stop the truck in the laneway, put the windows down, and shut the engine off, and just listen to them for a while.”

The Strapps wanted a water feature on their property. Ruth said there was a creek that went through the farm next door, where she grew up: “My brothers and I, when we were kids, we spent a lot of time back there,” she said.

The Denfield-area family has created the wetland for habitat, personal enjoyment, and water quality. “It’s clean water, it’s amazingly clean,” Greg said. “You talk about groundwater and water conservation and how wetlands keeps water clean, it just sounded like a win-win.”

Ruth said she comes from a family of farmers who are lovers of nature and animals and the wetland is “keeping that legacy going too … because so many wetlands have disappeared over the years.”

Almost 20 years ago, someone suggested the family turn a ponding area of a field into a wetland. The cost was too great as there were no programs, at that time, to provide the needed grants. In recent years, a neighbour mentioned the wetland idea again. “Would you like someone to come out and talk to you about it?” their neighbour asked. The Strapps said “Why not?” and the rest is history.

Angela Van Niekerk, wetlands specialist with Ausable Bayfield Conservation, met with Ruth and Greg and told them about new funding incentives and technical support and the project began. Generous funding partners provided financial support for grants to help reduce the cost to the landowner.

The excavation took place in 2014. The Strapp family planted over three hundred native plants in 2015. Staff planted almost three hundred trees on the property as well. “I would like to thank Ruth and Greg for deciding to do this project and for all their work,” said Angela. “I would also like to thank the partners that provide funding for wetlands because without that financial support these kinds of projects likely would not happen.”

Ausable Bayfield Conservation has prepared and posted a two-minute video of an interview with Ruth and Greg Strapp about their wetland project. The video is on the Ausable Bayfield Conservation YouTube channel and Facebook pageStrapp Family Wetland Video

The new wetland wasn’t an overnight success – it took time. “It was about the third year when we really started to see things happening, plants came up you had never seen before, flowers you’d never seen, and that’s when the wildlife moved in too,” Greg remembers.

“You feel really good about making a habitat and a home for animals that you’ve never seen before,” Ruth said. “I think at one time they were all here but they’ve moved away and now they’re coming back and that’s a good feeling.”

The rather barren look of the first-year wetland transformed into the beautiful naturalized area within five years. “The wildflowers are pretty incredible when you get into the spring, (and) in June and July,” Greg said. Native plants now include Tallgrass Prairie species, Sunflowers, Swamp Rose Mallow, Cattails, and Grey Goldenrod, among others. “It’s beautiful out here (in the prairie and wetland habitat),” said Greg. “It can be pretty spectacular.”

Funding support for the 2014 wetlands project came from the Government of Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund through Environment and Climate Change Canada; from Middlesex Stewardship Council; from the Province of Ontario’s Ontario Community Environment Fund; and from Ducks Unlimited Canada. The Strapps also say the technical support provided by staff helped very much with the project. They say staff provided options and choices for the landowner and also a solid plan for excavation and wetland planting.

Just as kidneys remove waste from the human body, wetlands filter out pollutants in nature. These natural systems can reduce erosion and flooding and filter sediment from water and recharge groundwater supplies. Wetlands provide habitat and breeding areas to more than 600 species of plants and animals in southern Ontario.

Landowners in Ausable Bayfield watershed have restored 77 wetlands on 247 acres over the past decade with support of local wetlands programs.

Grants for wetland and stormwater improvements by landowners, and related community education projects in Ausable Bayfield watersheds, are currently made possible with funding support from partners including WWF-Canada’s Loblaw Water Fund and Ducks Unlimited Canada; among others. This project was undertaken with the financial support of Environment and Climate Change Canada.   

If you would like to consider enhancing a natural area on your property phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 to learn more or to talk to staff about a site visit. To find out more, visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation website ( at this web page link:

 This project has been made possible thanks to funding support from  WWF-Canada’s Loblaw Water Fund.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Ce projet a été realisé avec l'appui financier de Environnement et Changement climatique Canada

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