Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes
Waterfront cottage owners undoubtedly love their waterfront. Fond memories with family and friends are formed during cottage weekends: legendary fresh fish frys, epic water tubing adventures, amazing bonfires, and stunning displays of stars – or even the northern lights. But did you know that the very shoreline properties these lifelong memories grow from are also the very shoreline properties that can keep our lakes clean and healthy?
A healthy buffer of native trees and shrubs has several benefits to the land and water, including:
- Filtering water before it enters the lake;
- Protecting soils from washing away; and,
- Providing food and shelter for lovable wildlife like chipmunks and loons.
Natural buffers of shrubs and trees can help filter water, reducing excess nutrients and particles from entering the lake. Excess nutrients can contribute to unwanted growth of aquatic vegetation or algae. Particles and eroding soils can reduce water clarity; and, over time, the settling particles can increase the rate of sedimentation, causing the lake to become shallower and changing the overall lake environment. Of course, healthy shrubs and trees, with various heights, leaves, berries, fruits, and flowers, provide essential sources of food and shelter for so many species of wildlife. The shoreline environment – the very link between land and water – is used by over 90% of all life at some point during their lives. Ultimately, keeping our shorelines healthy keeps our lakes healthy.
About the Love Your Lake Program
Watersheds Canada wanted to help shoreline property owners make this connection: they can further enjoy their waterfront properties by maintaining natural waterfronts! But how can they keep their properties natural, while still enjoying their magnificent waterfront view?! This is the question answered by the Love Your Lake program.
Love Your Lake is a modified and updated version of a scientific protocol developed by MAPLE (Mutual Association for the Protection of Lake Environments) in the 1980s. Watersheds Canada had been using a modified shoreline assessment protocol for over years to generate an individualized property report for each landowner, containing key observations and recommendations for a more natural property to benefit the overall health of the lake. We dubbed it “Shoreline Assessments,” which we now realize wasn’t catchy at all! However, the uptake for this program was incredibly encouraging, so we updated the assessment process with fundraising and marketing help from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Rogers Foundation, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Recreational Fisheries Habitat Enhancement Program brought together a steering committee of regional partners, including the City of Greater Sudbury, the Muskoka Watershed Council, the Lakeland Alliance, and the Bonnechere River Watershed Project. Together, we have created, piloted, and improved Love Your Lake into the program it is today!
Love Your Lake in 2017
Love Your Lake is currently reviewing protocol, and creating new training videos for partners. Lake assessment project partnerships have been established for 2017 and will take place on Loon Call Lake in Peterborough, Ontario, and Muskrat Lake, located in the Whitewater Region near Cobden, Ontario. There will also be assessments occurring in the Haliburton and Muskoka Regions. Muskrat Lake, in particular, has seen decades of water quality issues. Multiple government mandated water monitoring programs have been carried out on the lake by stakeholders, since as far back as the 1980s. Love Your Lake will also continue in Saskatchewan and Alberta, with a pilot program planned in Manitoba!
Learn More about Love Your Lake
Learn more about the Love Your Lake shoreline assessment program by visiting loveyourlake.ca! We also encourage you to show your lake love online by using #LoveYourLake to tag your photos, stories, and videos of your lake adventures!