(What’s that? Cottage season isn’t coming up soon? I’m trying to be optimistic here, folks, OK? Just roll with it.)
Last week, Paul MacInnes, indefatigable lake steward and chairman of the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations, made a presentation to county council.
The news wasn’t particularly good. In fact, the news was pretty bad.
To prevent lake health from declining, it’s recommended that lakes have at least 75 per cent naturalized shoreline.
Of the 47 local lakes evaluated so far through the CHA’s shoreline health project – also known as the Love Your Lake program – they have, on average, 48 per cent naturalized shoreline.
Naturalized shoreline means a buffer of 30 metres back from the shore that is untouched nature or has been re-naturalized through steps such as replacing manicured lawns with native grasses and plants.
This 30-metre buffer is sometimes referred to as “the ribbon of life,” as it provides all kinds of ecological benefits.
Native species have root systems that are much deeper than the species with which they are often replaced. Natural shorelines absorb pollutants such as phosphorous much, much better than unnatural ones.
Phosphorous is perhaps the biggest single threat to lake health in Haliburton County. Phosphorous chokes oxygen out of aquatic ecosystems. Too much phosphorous in a lake can lead to the birth of algae blooms, which are fatal to flora and fauna. Algae blooms murder lakes.
Most of the phosphorous in county lakes – about 95 per cent of it – comes from us. Literally. Most of the phosphorous content in local lakes has leaked its way there through septic beds.
It’s a reminder of why it’s important to have your septic system up to snuff.
Pun fully intended.
In addition to absorbing pollutants and preventing erosion, natural shorelines provide essential habitat for multitudinous species of animal including fish, frogs, butterflies and benthos.
Benthos are creatures that live in the benthic, or bottom, region of water bodies. With a diet that consists mostly of algae, the microscopic crustaceans that live in county lakes are constantly cleaning as they eat. Collectively, they are the lakes’ filtration system.
Natural shorelines help keep benthos and other animal species on which lakes depend alive. They also provide lakes with much-needed calcium through decomposing organic material.
If you are reading this and feeling guilty that your manicured, grass-filled, retaining walled property is killing your lake – and it is, I’m sorry – do not despair.
It’s not too late.
Visit the CHA website at www.cohpoa.org to find out how you can begin your journey to a healthier shoreline.