Wow, do we have a lot to share in this month’s newsletter! The Coastal Centre has been very busy collaborating with environmental groups along our shoreline to protect your lake.
I had the opportunity to attend the Environmental Defense Gala in Toronto. We have had a planning workshop with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, met with Conservation Authorities, Healthy Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association. We have made presentations to several of your municipal councils, have met with Pine River Watershed Initiative Network and the International Joint Commission. We are doing all this in an effort to link all environmental groups along our shore to create a cohesive effort to protect and improve the health of Lake Huron.
In addition to these collaborative activities, we have held three very successful Coastal Community Workshops in Bayfield, Sarnia and Sauble Beach. These sessions were held to collect information from property owners, government and conservation officials and the general public in connection with our Coastal Action Plan. We are making a difference for you!
As many of us have noticed, this year’s winter has been one of the tamest winters we have had in recent memory. The freeze-thaw extremes experienced over the past month have been unusual to say the least. Weather like this may be optimal for Maple Syrup production, but it is not so “sweet” for our lake and river systems or migratory species.
An example of the change of weather patterns is the recent arrival of the Tundra Swans in the Grand Bend (Wye Marsh) area. Locals say that seeing Tundra Swans this early is very unusual, as they typically don’t come through until early to mid-March. Other residents have voiced concerns about turtles and frogs emerging from hibernation too early during the “thaw” periods, because when “freeze” periods inevitably return they often get hit by cars or fall victim to predators.
2017 will be another year where we wonder where our beach has gone! High water levels will be attributed to heavy precipitation events. The large amount of precipitation expected this month is concerning to some lakeshore and river-adjacent residents due to the inevitable high water levels. Heavy precipitation causes fast water movement across fields, roads and properties resulting in a loss of top soil and erosion, specifically in riverbanks and along shorelines. This fast movement of water, sediment and debris eventually makes its way to our lake and washes up on the beaches of Lake Huron. This debris often includes garbage and litter from roadsides and streets, posing a threat to wildlife and to our water infrastructure. Debris and organic matter become tangled, clogging culverts, drains and river outlets leading to small flooding incidents across roads posing a threat to human safety. A great way to get involved and reduce the amount of litter filtering into our river and lake would be to do a spring highway or roadside cleanup in your community.
We all love to go exploring outside, and it is important to be aware of children and pets playing around unstable banks and rivers during high water levels. Please take care and be safe this March when enjoying our lakeshore!