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The Cherry River Marsh, Magog

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medium_marais.3.jpgThe Cherry River Marsh, or Le Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises, as it is known officially, today constitutes one of the most important wetland areas in the Lake Memphremagog watershed. It is also a site that is growing in popularity as a place to walk and to appreciate the beauties of nature.

The history of the Cherry River Marsh is intimately linked to human activity in the immediate and surrounding areas. The late nineteenth century saw the construction of dams on the nearby Magog River and the deposit of vast amounts of fill for the construction of the Waterloo and Magog Railway. Both of these activities raised the level of water in the marsh significantly. Indeed, the area encompassed by this wetland was permanently doubled in this period.

A century or so later, in 1997, a non-profit organization called Les Amis du Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises (LAMRAC) was created.

LAMRAC's mission was to preserve, maintain and develop the marsh area, and to sensitize the public about the importance of sound management of this important site.

medium_marais.5.jpgToday, the area managed by Les Amis du Marais occupies about 1.5 square kilometers, or 150 hectares, and comprises four natural environments: marshland; swamp; peat land; and woods. Although it was created in part as a result of human activity, the Cherry River Marsh is characterized by all of the traits of a completely natural wetland. These include a surprising biodiversity, notably 143 species of bird, 359 species of tree, shrub and plant, 14 species of amphibians and reptiles, and numerous species of mammal and fish.

One of LAMRAC’s very first interventions was to clean up about sixty tons of garbage that had been deposited in the marsh over the years. In time, a network of trails and boardwalks was built throughout the area, totally over eight kilometres in length.

Other improvements would follow: interpretive panels, an observation tower; observation points, covered picnic areas, a welcome pavilion, and more. Special activities would be added, as well, including educational services for school children and guided tours by kayak or canoe.

In just over ten years, the Cherry River Marsh has come a long way. No longer considered as a worthless dumping ground, a bug-infested wasteland, an area to be avoided, it is very much a rapidly growing natural and tourist attraction.

People come from all over the Eastern Townships and beyond to enjoy and learn from this important wetland, a resource that will certainly continue to grow in stature as time passes.

For more information on the Cherry River Marsh, visit www.lamrac.org or contact LAMRAC at lamrac@bellnet.ca or at (819) 843-8118.