Written by: Melissa Dakers, 2017
As we approach the mid-summer point of 2017, I keep thinking to myself, what a difference from last year!
With very little precipitation and hot summer days, 2016 was one of the biggest droughts that Eastern Ontario has experienced. Seeing the rivers and creeks running dry and thinking about all the ecosystems and wildlife that were affected, makes me ever grateful for the amount of rain that we have received in 2017.
Sure it has been a summer of plenty, with rain always in the forecast. But if Mother Nature hadn’t provided us with this much needed rain, where would we be?
With the delay in the planting and growing season, everyone was wondering if summer would ever show its face. For the first time in years, my lilacs were blooming in June and strawberries are still available in mid July! But now that we are experiencing summer temperatures, nature is thriving! It amazes me how plant and wildlife species have recovered and are making up for last year.
This year has been the year of the tent caterpillar, thousands of them everywhere you go, devastating to so many trees. And don’t get me started on blackflies, mosquitos, deerflies and horseflies! Bug nets have been a part of my daily cottage attire. On the other hand, I haven’t had to water my garden this season and my flowers and tomatoes are doing fantastic with no help from me…always a plus side.
All the rain has also kept the local water management teams and waterfront property owners on their toes too. Lakes and rivers are still at spring levels, many people experiencing some type of high water or flooding this year. It is at these times we really need to pay attention to how we affect water quality in our local lakes and rivers. Something as simple as fertilizing our lawns before a rainfall, ends up fertilizing our waterways too! Excess phosphorus increases the growth of aquatic vegetation and as these plants decompose, they use reduce the available oxygen levels in the water. Lower oxygen levels greatly affect fish populations, especially cold water species like brook trout. Limiting runoff from our properties will greatly prevent future problems with fresh water ecosystems.
Making sure your property has a sufficient buffer of native plants and trees along the shoreline, will not only filter contaminants from entering the water, the deeper roots will stabilize the shorelines from erosion caused by higher water levels and wave action, better than a manicured lawn would. The trees and shrubs will also provide necessary shade and habitat for many species.
Although we can not control what Mother Nature bestows upon us, we can control how our actions affect Mother Nature and our local fresh water.