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Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes


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This has been my second summer with Love Your Lake. I feel very fortunate to be involved with positive action towards improving the environmental quality close to home. Working with waterfront residents to naturalize shorelines and maintain water quality is very rewarding. I have been welcomed everywhere I have gone and I hope every waterfront resident in Ontario has the chance to be involved with Love Your Lake! Thank you for helping keep Ontario, my home, naturally beautiful.

Carrying out the Love Your Lake program on Lake of Bays, Muskoka this summer was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I could ask for. Providing landowners with information regarding what they can do to improve the health of their shoreline and lake, I was able to make a first-hand contribution to tackling some of the main issues within our region. Working on the water this summer also provided me with a vast knowledge base of the region and ways to mitigate water pollution and other detriments to lake health, an opportunity that I took advantage of, and will apply to my work studying Environmental Studies and Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University. Travelling to different areas around the lake and conducting surveys was the perfect way to familiarize myself with the prevailing trends and patterns of development and vegetation growth that exist within Lake of Bays. Despite these benefits, one of the most enjoyable parts of this summer proved to be seeing the reactions of the public and those who own cottages around the lake. Whether it was talking to residents on their dock, going out on the water with volunteers, or speaking at lake association meetings, I always received positive feedback and support for the goals of the Love Your Lake program. This summer was filled with stories about what residents are already doing to improve lake health, and even more stories about what they plan on doing next summer. These conversations may have taken up a little bit of time out on the water, but were essential in showing that the program is making a difference throughout the community, changing the way people think about lakes and their shoreline.

We purchased our first cottage property on Graham Lake 4 years ago and haven’t looked back since; we just wish we had done this so many years sooner. We have certainly been quite satisfied with the lake experience but were, from the beginning, concerned about our shoreline conditions.

Our concerns encompassed the following;

  • shore line erosion,
  • extreme build-up of floating and growing weeds,
  • water quality and levels (major impact seen in 2012 due to the lack of rain - the result being the appearance of an unprecedented number of bogs)
  • waterfront conditions severely detract from a welcoming environment for swimmers and kayak people like ourselves.

We were hoping to build a cottage environment that will suit us in retirement and be passed along to our sons and family to enjoy in the future. The conservation of the environmental conditions in and around the lake is important to us but there needs to be a balance that also considers the needs of residents.

Building a positive living environment will encourage existing and future residents to continue experiencing lakeside living. However, if this “healthy” environment isn’t maintained we believe that people will move away from cottage life or you will get those less concerned about the environment resulting in a deterioration of the area.

Some excellent progress was made as a watershed assessment was conducted in the summer of 2011 and in October a meeting on "DEVELOPING EASTERN ONTARIO LAKES SUSTAINABLY" took place. Furthermore the results of the watershed assessment were compiled in a binder and provided to lake residents in the summer of 2012. This binder provided valuable information to residents concerning their specific lake front conditions and suggestions and rationale for using various naturalization techniques on their waterfront. This information can be found in books/magazines and through the internet but this binder has brought it all together in one comprehensive source. We believe more importantly though is that the suggestions provided are related to our geographic area. Therefore they would achieve the highest survival rate and achieve the objective of shoreline sustainability.

We were planning to incorporate some of the suggestions in the binder to our waterfront this year. However, we were pleasantly surprised that our request to participate in a Shoreline Naturalization Project was approved. This allows us to take direct advantage of the experts in shoreline naturalization. They will develop a comprehensive naturalization plan for about half of our waterfront. In addition, with volunteers they will actually come in and do the work. Certainly this is an excellent opportunity for us to have this work done but we believe it will represent an excellent reference site for other lake front owners. They will be able to see how their lakefront can be transformed into both a naturalization haven and social enclave. The benefits to the environment will be realized while the residents will get the full value of their lakefront property,

We look forward to sharing our experience with other cottagers in the area.

Deborah and Les Pratt
Graham Lake

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