AKA the Year of the Natural Shoreline!
This summer the Environment Council for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes is turning the spotlight on shorelines.
We’re happy to announce three fun opportunities to learn how natural shorelines protect the health of our lakes while enhancing your property – and how to restore altered shorelines.
1. Shoreline Naturalization Workshop • Saturday, July 13, 9 am to noon • USLA Pavilion, 2378 Crowe’s Landing Road, Upper Stoney Lake
We’re getting personal! At this interactive shoreline workshop, Douglas Kennedy of Green Side Up Environmental Services and Landscaping will explain how natural shorelines protect water quality and the many benefits they provide to owners and wildlife. Then Doug and an associate will coach you on a concept design and native plants suited to your own property.
2. Camp Kawartha Shoreline Naturalization Project – Volunteer Planting Day • Saturday, August 17, 9 am until completion • 1010 Birchview Road, southeast shore of Clear Lake
Environment Council, Camp Kawartha and a number of generous donors, including landscape architect Helen Batten of Basterfield & Associates Inc., are partnering to naturalize a large section of the Camp’s shoreline. This will help protect the lake and wildlife, enhance the Camp’s environmental education programs and enable Environment Council to show lake residents the advantages of natural shorelines.
Come and be part of this exciting project. We need at least two dozen energetic volunteers to plant over 1,000 native shrubs and wildflowers, under the guidance of our landscaper.
As an example of the kind of work we’re undertaking, here are before and after pictures of Helen’s redesigned shoreline at Lakefield College School (published here with the permission of Basterfield & Associates Inc.).
3. Guided Shoreline Tour • Sunday, September 22, 2 to 4 pm • Camp Kawartha, 1010 Birchview Road
Visit the newly restored Camp Kawartha shoreline project area with the environmental landscaper who helped make it happen. See the improvements made, learn how the work was done, and how you can apply these ideas to your own waterfront.
Please register well in advance for these events: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specify which event(s) you are signing up for, and please provide full contact information so we can give you details as the dates approach. Watch our website, Facebook and Instagram, for more on these projects.
Mark your calendar and sign up today!
What happens on land affects your water
Did you know that the state of your shoreline directly affects the quality of the water that you swim and play in on your own waterfront and elsewhere on the lake?
Shorelines that are eroded, hardened or bordered with lawn allow soil, pollutants and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen to wash into the water. Some of these substances stay in the water and some settle to the bottom. This damages water quality and fish habitat and fertilizes excessive growth of algae and aquatic plants.
Natural shorelines, containing a variety of native plants with their deep strong root systems, slow down natural runoff and trap nutrients, pollutants and eroding soil before they can reach the water.
Natural and restored shorelines with a variety of native ground covers, wild flowers, shrubs and trees also:
- protect against erosion from waves, boat wakes and flooding;
- provide important habitat for a wide range of land-based and aquatic wildlife;
- help keep geese off your property;
- supply important food sources for bees, Monarch butterflies and other pollinators;
- save you work – with less or no lawn to cut, you’ll have more deck and dock time!
Wildlife depends on the ribbon of life
Scientific evidence shows that the first 10 to 15 metres of shoreland and the shallow water next to it – known as the riparian zone or ribbon of life – is essential to the survival of almost all species.
Ninety percent of all lake and river life depends on shoreline areas for birth, feeding and survival. Seventy percent of land animals also depend on shorelines for survival at some point in their lives.
Hardening shorelines with concrete shore walls or large stone blocks interrupts this ribbon of life and doesn’t prevent erosion over the long term. Removing natural vegetation and replacing it with lawn destroys the food sources and protective cover that wildlife needs to survive.
How much natural shoreline is enough?
Looking at the big picture, Environment Canada guidelines say that 75 percent of a lake, 30 metres back from the shore, should be left natural to keep local populations of wildlife from disappearing.
When it comes to individual properties, research shows that a 10-metre buffer zone of natural vegetation at the shoreline is needed to protect wildlife habitat and lake water quality.
We recognize that many properties, and families’ needs for play areas, may not be able to accommodate this – but it is important to keep natural or re-naturalize as much of this 10-metre band along the edge of the water as you possibly can.
How can we get started?
Here are a few simple steps:
- If you have a lawn down to the edge of the water or close to it, stop cutting the first three to five metres back from the shore. Native plants will start to appear and you can gradually add more and increase the width of the buffer.
- Keep any remaining lawn at least seven centimetres tall to slow runoff. Rainwater runs off short lawn grass about twice as fast as off larger plants.
- Think about how you use your waterfront, and whether there are parts of it not used, or rarely used. Begin to naturalize these areas.
- To help protect the water, make sure no fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides are used, and that no gas or oil is spilled.
To find out more about the importance of natural shorelines and how to naturalize yours, see:
- The Shore Primer, Ontario edition The Shore Primer
- A Shoreline Owner’s Guide to Healthy Waterfronts https://foca.on.ca/shoreline-owners-guide-to-healthy-waterfronts/
Helping owners help their shorelines
An Environment Council shoreline team has been working over the past several years to engage waterfront owners in shoreline protection and restoration efforts.Early Fall Maple Colours
We ran a number of workshops, arranged for about 20 individual shoreline evaluations by a consulting biologist, and hand-delivered information to about 300 property owners. But the results have not matched our efforts.
So, we’re developing a new approach that we hope will be more successful in getting waterfront owners to take action. Watch our home page and Facebook for updates.