Photo by Graham Carr
There are a number of measures that we as cottagers can take to protect our shoreline. This ‘littoral’ zone includes the water and the land where they meet along the water’s edge. This area is called the fragile ribbon of life because it is the area of the lake where the fish spawn, water birds nest and food is available for many species.
A) Leaving 30’ of natural vegetation back from the water. This natural vegetation is achieved by measuring 30’ and doing nothing. What grows in is “natural”. This vegetation acts as a filter for runoff which may contain nutrients (good for plants and people but bad for water quality) from septic beds, fertilizer and compost. Even a well maintained septic may not filter out phosphates.
B) If you must have a lawn beyond the 30’ mark, use native grasses which require no fertilizer. Fertilizer adds 1,960 grams of phosphate to your property if only used once yearly. Leaving the lawn unmowed will soon allow native grasses and wildflowers to infiltrate. These are adapted to our environment and require no fertilizer. You will be delighted by some of the plants that spring up and bloom - the birds do the landscaping as they fly over and drop seeds.
C) Keep 30’ of shoreline into the water as natural as possible, leaving fallen tree limbs and debris to remain and water plants to grow. Limit the size of your swimming area or beach.
D) Do not change the shoreline by adding rock walls, sand beaches, fixed docks, or using wake-causing boats, all of which destroy the natural shoreline which sustains a large portion of life for fish, birds and mammals. Canada Fisheries and Oceans recommends a 25% gradual slope. A gentle slope cushions the effects of the artificial wave action of passing boats.