Schmidt Lake – Northwest of Chepstow

Schmidt Lake is in the Greenock Swamp, a vast wetland area and the largest forested wetland in Southern Ontario.  Approximately half the swamp is owned by Saugeen Conservation, who manage the forests and protect the sensitive areas.  The swamp has the greatest diversity of plants , animals and insects in Grey and Bruce Counties.  As it is environmentally sensitive visitors are encouraged to stay on roads and trails.

The swamp is host to many rare and significant plants and birds because of its large area and unique environment.  There are 22 species of orchids, 8 provincially rare plants, and 2 trilliums that are rare in the two counties.  Notable bird life includes 11 species of hawks – two of which are considered vulnerable in Canada – plus a significant population of Barred Owls, and four provincially rare breeding birds (MNR ANSI Report, Joe Johnson, 1994) . 

Much of the area is not accessible to the public, except for Schmidt Lake where the SVCA, with funding from Saugeen Valley Conservation Foundation, is constructing a boardwalk  and lookout platform.  There will be interpretive signage and a floating boardwalk system which will take visitors out to the unique floating bog mat at Schmidt Lake.  Due to the acidity of many of the lakes in the Greenock Swamp, there are many plants that grow here that would not be present in other common environments. 

One of the interesting plants that enjoys the acid environment of the bog is the Pitcher Plant.  It is named for the heavily veined red or green leaves that are pitcher-shaped and will hold rainwater.  The flaring lips are lined with downward pointing hairs or bristles that help trap insects.  Insects are lured to the plant by colour and nectar and, once trapped by the bristles, cannot escape.  The water in the pitcher cup drowns the insect and enzymes in the water help to dissolve it. 

The forest in the area in and around Schmidt Lake are mainly lowland forest or swamp, dominated by White Cedar.  There is a rainbow of trees, with soft maples (silver and red), yellow birch, as well as red and green ash.  On higher ground there is sugar maple and black cherry.  To a lesser extent you will find red maple, white ash and eastern hemlock.   Some of the majestic white pines, for which the swamp became famous, still remain. 

Thank you to Shannon Wood at Saugeen Conservation for background information.

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