Chester Springs Marsh

Chester Springs Marsh is considered the flagship project of “Bring Back the Don.” This restoration project was established to demonstrate how a constructed wetland could play a part in returning the Don Valley to more natural condition.

Chester Springs Marsh, July 2001

It was designed to provide habitat for many native wildlife species, covers 3 hectares and is divided into two parts separated by the Don River. The eastern side borders the Lower Don Trail and is open to the public to visit. The part west of the river, being largely inaccessible, provides a protected habitat for wetland wildlife.

Chester Springs Marsh, west side, July 1997 & August 1999

Citizen involvement in the planning, design, and construction of the marsh, as well as its maintenance and monitoring, has been an important part of this project. Hundreds of volunteers participated in planting the marsh and citizens are still involved in its monitoring.

Children planting in the mud, September 1996

Chester Springs Marsh also acts as a natural flood control mechanism. Presently, the Don has the ability to flood over very quickly during storm periods. Wetlands help regulate both water quality and quantity. This marsh cleans unwanted pollutants and excessive nutrients from the Don as its aquatic plants act as a filtering mechanism.

Special habitat features such as sunning logs, perching stumps and snake hibernaculi were placed her to enhance conditions for resident and migratory birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. It has become a dynamic urban wildlife haven. Many wildlife species have been seen here in the marsh since its completion in 1996. Muskrat, black-crowned night heron, great blue heron, painted and snapping turtles, mallard ducks, and frogs, are just a few of those observed. On a visit to the site, you may see great blue heron, black crowned night heron, sandpiper, belted kingfisher, American toad, red-winged blackbird, painted turtle or red fox.

Planting site, June 1996

Chester Springs Marsh was designed and constructed by Harrington & Hoyle Ltd., Landscape Architects. Visit that firm’s website and take a virtual tour of the Marsh.

For more about Chester Springs Marsh go to