Community support and actions in Quinte watershed growing for Pugnose Shiner fish, a Species at Risk
Perth, ON, October 18, 2021 – Cathie Coultis has lived in the Quinte watershed for almost 15 years. In the past few years, though, she is seeing dramatic changes on West Lake. More invasive phragmites are spreading in the water, and she is seeing an increase in shoreline development, resulting in increased sedimentation and removal of aquatic vegetation.
Cathie is the Chairperson of the West Lake Community Association, one of the key local community groups working to bring awareness and action for the Pugnose Shiner, a Species at Risk fish. The Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus) is a member of the minnow family and is listed as a “threatened” status under COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and SARA (Species at Risk Act) Schedule 1. The Pugnose Shiner is extremely vulnerable to declining habitat quality which may be due to increased waterfront development, the removal of aquatic vegetation, and decreased water quality and quantity.
The Pugnose Shiner Landowner Engagement and Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project is a two-year Project working to enhance the last remaining habitats of the Pugnose Shiner in the Quinte watershed. This Project is generously funded by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Aquatic Species at Risk and is being delivered in partnership with Quinte Conservation, Friends of Wellers Bay, the West Lake Community Association, volunteers on East Lake, the County Sustainability Group, and Watersheds Canada.
One important component of the Project is the shoreline assessments taking place through the Love Your Lake Program. These assessments are completed by boat using a peer-reviewed protocol and will result in a comprehensive and individualized report being sent to each of the 889 participating properties on the three freshwater bodies. These reports will outline voluntary recommendations for each property owner to take on their waterfront to protect and enhance water quality and shoreline habitat. The Love Your Lake Program is coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Watersheds Canada.
Wellers Bay, East Lake, and West Lake were surveyed by Filip Goldshtein and Mario Alejandro Garavito Sosa, two interns through the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Canadian Conservation Corps Program.
Photo: Mario and Filip conducting Love Your Lake assessments on West Lake. Credit: Watersheds Canada.
“As part of the Canadian Conservation Corps Stage 2, this summer I had the opportunity to work with Watersheds Canada, as part of the Love Your Lake team”, says Mario. “In this experience, I have learned about the importance of shorelines for the health of lakes, and how property owners’ subtle changes can have a big impact. In addition to the fieldwork, I have enjoyed the beautiful lakes of Prince Edward County, in company of some swans, loons, and even beavers.”
“Canada is home to the largest number of lakes in the world, thus it is our responsibility of taking care of them. I’m glad to be helping with this task through the Love Your Lake program. After the assessment, fieldwork materializes in a powerful report that landowners will receive. I hope they read them, learn from them, and use the recommended actions for improving lake health for people and wildlife”, he adds.
A special thank you to Log Cabin Point Resort on East Lake for donating a boat rental, and Stoneburg Cove Resort for touring the Love Your Lake interns on Wellers Bay and allowing them to complete the assessments. Thank you also to all of the volunteer boat drivers and coordinators for their help in delivering the Love Your Lake portion of this Project.
Property reports will be available in spring 2022. If you are a shoreline property owner on East Lake, West Lake, or Wellers Bay, make sure to fill in your values survey before you receive your report: www.loveyourlake.ca/survey. This information helps staff see what threats lakes may be facing, and what landowners value about their freshwater community.
Another important component of the Project is the aquatic vegetation assessment being completed by Quinte Conservation for each of Wellers Bay, East Lake, and West Lake. These surveys will collect baseline data on the aquatic vegetation community, the presence of invasive species, and determine the need for any future education and monitoring programs.
Photo: Starry Stonewort, an invasive species, found in Wellers Bay. Credit: Quinte Conservation.
“Quinte Conservation is thankful to play a role in this important two-year Project to help enhance habitat for the Pugnose Shiner”, says Maya Navrot, Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator at Quinte Conservation. “Upon completing our vegetation surveys, our staff will be able to create a report on each aquatic vegetation community and the best management practices for identified non-native invasive vegetation for East Lake and West Lake.”
Finally, participating landowners will take a step towards restoring and enhancing their shorelines this fall by planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers through the Natural Edge Program. These plants will provide critical shade over the water, cooling the temperatures for wildlife. Deep rooted species like black chokeberry, nannyberry, and silver maple will stabilize the shoreline against erosion and help filter runoff before it enters the waterway. These native plants will benefit not only the Pugnose Shiner, but also the 90% of all aquatic species and 70% of land-based species in the area that rely on the shoreline at some point in their lifetime.
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, communities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at Watersheds.ca
About Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the federal lead for safeguarding Canada’s waters and managing Canada’s fisheries, oceans and freshwater resources. They help ensure healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems through habitat protection and sound science.
Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager