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Shoreline Assessment and Mapping

The key to understanding shoreline development on Clear and Ston(e)y Lakes

The Environment Council for Clear, Stoney and White Lakes in partnership with the Kawartha Land Trust welcomed three Fleming College students majoring in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to participate in our shoreline assessment and mapping project this past spring and fall, 2021. Their technical contributions and overall engagement in the project were impressive and most appreciated. We were also fortunate to have technical support and consultation for the students provided by Silvia Strobl and Steve Voros, GIS specialists at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Tammy Sikma, Director of the Peterborough County GIS department. Finally, we were pleased to have additional student and community support for data collection.

Project Goals

The project was launched to address the need for current, reliable data and mapping to support Environment Council education and advocacy work on shoreline conservation including deputations to our municipalities to request greater policy protection. The data would also provide significant mapping data support for the Kawartha Land Trust, required to identify important properties for conservation, and to engage the lake community in shoreline and shoreland protection.


The project focused on integration of satellite data and ground-truth verification of shoreline features reflecting remaining natural shoreline and altered shoreline conditions on Clear and Stoney Lakes.  Satellite data was provided by provincial government sources.  Verification of features was obtained by summer students in canoes collecting data at the lake shoreline.  (Satellite data is limited to a vertical aerial view which is obstructed by tree and shrub canopy overhanging the lakes’ shorelines. Shoreline verification provides details of natural vegetation and altered shoreline structure and function within the riparian zone.)       

The first student deliverable was a Digitization Manual detailing methodology for shoreline inventory on Stoney and Clear Lakes. The second deliverable was a mapping application featuring individual properties/parcels and their viability for conservation and protection. Viability was determined based on criteria identified in collaboration with the Environment Council and Kawartha Land Trust. These criteria included the effect of building footprint, wetland features, watercourse inlets, ecosystem connectivity features and shoreline alteration. 

Study Outcome and Analysis

This analysis provides an accurate picture of shoreline health on the lakes. We can identify how the actions of landowners on the lake can contribute to positive outcomes for lake health, and how they can accumulate to negatively impact shorelines. Specifically, we now know that 36% of the two lakes is altered shoreline. This will allow us to work together with landowners to celebrate and protect the remaining 64% of their natural shoreline.

Details of data provide insights into the state of the lake now, a baseline for future shoreline studies. Information collected in the future may then reflect the effective results of improved policy and resident management for protecting shoreline. 

Parcel Analysis Highlights


Stony Lake + Upper Stoney Lake

• 1046  parcels of land, 91 km of shoreline
• 277 parcels have 0% natural shoreline
• 397 parcels have <30% natural shoreline
• Total 65 km (71%) considered natural shoreline

Clear Lake

  • 429 parcels, 23 km of shoreline

  • 297 parcels have 0% natural shoreline

  • 320 have <30% natural shoreline

  • Total 8 km (38%) considered natural

Image by Leslie Saunders

Total Alterations

  • 676 permanent docks

  • 279 boathouses (on the water vs. on land with a ramp)

  • 10 marinas

  • 120 boat ramps

  • Most altered shoreline is in the form of revetment (retaining wall): 33.0 km – compared to 7.9 km of lawn, 0.8 km of boat launch

  • 52.1% of lawn (4.1 km of 7.9 km) was considered to be eroding – compared to 11.6% of shoreline with vegetation, 3.6% of shoreline with revetment, 0.9% marsh shoreline

Conservation Objectives

Using this project as a catalyst for change

With this information we hope to collaborate with landowners of natural shorelines to thank them for caring for overall lake health and engage interested landowners in permanent protection of these significant and threatened features. We also want to further the understanding of shoreline health for residents in the lake community by continuing to provide educational materials and training relevant to property management for conserving and restoring natural shorelines. 

Restoration projects on altered shorelines will continue with residents’ active interest and financial support from a variety of sources. 

Sharing this study outcome with local governments will clarify the pressing need for creation of new policies and bylaws that meaningfully address conservation of remaining shorelines.

Finally, we also wish to develop and share a vision and action plan with lake community partners for forever protecting the character and environmental health of the lake through shoreline conservation. 

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