Join us May 12 - 13, 2020 at the Oakwood Resort, Grand Bend for our 11th biennial Lake Huron Conference as we discover and learn from 20+ experts on various coastal topics, local actions and solutions to environmental challenges. This year's theme is, "Lake Huron's Climate: What has Changed?".
Scott and Acadia Parent, Explorer/Photographer - SUP guide and his daughter Acadia (Read about this inspiring father-daughter duo in the article below!)
Lynn Short, Professor in Horticulture/Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, Humber College/Humber Arboretum
Greg McClinchey, BA, MPM, Legislative Liaison, Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Todd Howell, Great Lakes Ecologist, Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks
Steve Jackson, Flood and Erosion Safety Services Coordinator, Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
Dr. Clare Robinson, Associate Professor, Western University
Marcus Maddalena, County Biologist, Huron Stewardship Council/Huron County
Lisa Erdle, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
Paul A. Parete, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dr. Frank Seglenieks, Water Resources Engineer, National Hydrological Service of Canada
Dr. Andrew Gronewold, Associate Professor, University of Michigan
And more! Program schedule and presentation topics to be revealed in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Don't miss out on early-bird pricing in effect until April 1st. Registration closes May 4th.Tickets are limited.
*Registration rate does not include accommodation.
Interested in becoming a Partner? Exhibitors and Silent Auction contributions needed. By supporting this conference you are helping to protect Lake Huron! All of the conference proceeds go towards important programs that help ensure a brighter future for our coastal communities. Please contact us today at 226-421-3029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drummond Island to Penetanguishene: A pilgrimage across Lake Huron for microplastics research
By: Scott Parent
Last July, my 9 year old daughter Acadia and I set out on a 14’ expedition SUP tandem, from Drummond island Michigan, USA, to paddle along the historic Métis Migration route of 1828 all the way to Penetanguishene, ON, CA. However, our line would deviate from the historic line that followed the North Channel. We would traverse along the South shore of Manitoulin island, in order to travel across all three bodies of lake Huron. North Channel, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, covering 480km of lake Hurons coastal waters and open water channels.
We carried enough gear to support us for one month, as well as camera gear to document our experience, and sampling equipment for our micro-plastics research, including a deep water sampler to collect water samples at depth. We had enough food to last us for up to 12 days at a time, and would resupply along the way, at three rendezvous points. One at Mississagi lighthouse, South Bay Mouth and at Britt. These rendezvous point also allowed us to hand off the precious water samples we had previously collected, while resupplying with new glass containers for the next leg.
The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation was a tremendous aide and support to our cause prior to setting out, providing us with invaluable information on how to collect reliable samples for future testing. We learned the best methods for collecting our samples which would ensure we didn’t contaminate the samples in the collection process.
Our deep water sampler allowed us to collect water samples at controlled depths. We collected samples as deep as 50ft, midway across some historic channels, such as the False Detour Channel between Drummond island and Cockburn island, along the US, Canadian border. As well as the Mississagi Strait, North Channel between Manitoulin island and Killarney, Owen Channel, and the Gap at the mouth of Penetanguishene harbour. These samples proved challenging to collect, with wind and waves threatening our position, as well as the odd time the doors on the sampler would fail to close properly, and we would have to reset it for another grab. It was a laborious and time consuming process. Although the efforts proved invaluable, with the analysis from those samples containing traces of microplastics, confirming their presence beneath the surface.
Overall, the journey itself was incredible, and to share this experience with Acadia made it all even more transformative. Athletically driven, Acadia really wanted the personal challenge of paddling the entirety of the route, knowing I would be there to back her up. I recall one day, along the South shore of Manitoulin, Acadia had slept most of the day on the board, while I out paddled 30km from Greene island to Misery Bay. She insisted we paddle out 40km the next day, feeling like she missed out on her contribution to our distance. On average we had to paddle 25km a day, however with wind and waves sometimes holding us back, we often had to cover 30km or more. Our journey took us through some of the most remote waters of the lake. An experience we will never forget.
Here we are a half a year later, and we are going through those samples, analyzing them for micro-plastics. In total we collected 45 samples over a distance of nearly 500km. 5 of those samples were deep water samples.
So far we are in the middle of our analysis and we can say-we found micro-plastics. So far all samples we have analyzed have contained micro-plastics, mostly in the form of fibres. The deep water samples that we have analyzed so far have also contained micro-plastics. All of our findings will be summarized in a final report which will be shared with the Coastal Centre, in hopes of furthering our collective understanding of the current state of health of Lake Huron.
We hope that our expedition and results of our research help inspire people and organizations in the region, to learn more about the presence of micro-plastics in Lake Huron waters.
Ice Cover Update and Ice Safety
By: Hannah Cann and Samantha Ventura
Ice Cover Update
Ice cover has been monitored on the Great Lakes since 1973, providing us with a long-term data set of information helping scientists track changes to the health of Lake Huron and predictions for future water levels.
Ice cover on the lake acts as a 'lid' holding lake water from evaporating during the winter winds and storms. Evaporation peaks in the fall and early winter when air temperatures drop and water temperatures are still warm. Evaporation off the massive lake surface is increased when cold, dry air blows across warm lake water.
Over the long-term data set of lake ice cover monitoring, we notice a decrease in average annual ice cover from 72% to 58%. This decrease has multiple reasons, with climate change being one of them. When there is less ice cover on the Lake, especially on erodible sections of shoreline, winter storms and wave energy can cause more erosion of the nearshore lake bed and coastal ecosystems adjacent to the shoreline.
As of January 31, 2020, we are sitting at approximately 15% ice concentration. Ice cover typically peaks at the end of February, early March depending on the year. The highest ice cover ever recorded was 98.2% in 1996. More information can be found at https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/ice/lakes_AMIC.pdf
There are many factors to consider when thinking about the safety of lake ice. Temperature, thickness, snow cover, water depth, size of water body, currents, and the distribution of the load atop of the ice are all factors affecting ice safety and possible hazards.
Here are some general rules to consider before heading out for a day on the ice:
Know your lake: Have a plan, know your lake access points, local weather patterns and conditions. Local community members or bait shops can provide insight to popular spots, how to access, and the ice conditions.
Test the ice: Measure ice thickness in several locations as you travel to your destination.
Ice colour: The colour of ice may be an indication of its strength. Clear blue or black ice is the strongest. White or snow ice is half as strong. Grey ice is unsafe.
Ice thickness: See Minimum Lake Ice Thickness Guidelines above. Watch LHCCC staff demonstrate how to measure ice thickness here.
Take safety equipment with you: Ice spud, flotation suit, throw rope, ice picks, hand and foot warmers, and a cellphone.
These general rules are intended to help you stay safe out on the ice and enjoy your time this winter. However, It's important to remember that there is no such thing as 100% safe ice and there is always a risk when you venture onto a frozen body of water. So be prepared, tell your loved ones where you intend to be and have fun!
Beat the Winter Blues with Outdoor Activities
By: Nicole Cameron and Chantal Lamontagne
When the cold weather hits its tempting to join all the other animals in an annual hibernation. But there are actually a number of really awesome outdoor activities that you can do in the winter, and only the winter, along the Lake Huron Coastline.
Hiking and snowshoeing
The biggest difference between hiking and snowshoeing is how much snow is on the ground. Snowshoeing allows for year-round access to many awesome hiking trails, like the trail to the Grotto on the Bruce Peninsula. You can embark on this adventure by yourself, however since these trails are not maintained in the winter you can also book a guide. There are a number of other great trails in the area and gear can be rented at any MEC or often through local businesses. One thing to remember when hiking and snowshoeing in the winter is to stay off groomed cross-country ski trails as footprints reduce the quality of the trail and too much traffic can make trails dangerous for skiers.
Collingwood is a popular hub for ice fishing on Georgian Bay. But there are a few steps you need to take before heading out. First, make sure to review fishing regulations and that you are properly licensed. Details about licenses and regulations can be found here and information about buying fishing licenses can be found here and here. During most of the year, anyone between the ages of 18-65 who wants to fish needs their own license. However there a few weekends in which no fishing licenses are required for Canadian residents. One of these is family day weekend, Feb 15-17, 2020. Secondly, make sure you have the right gear, most of which can be bought at Canadian Tire or a bait shop. In addition to the standard rod and line, you will need an auger to drill through the ice and a skimmer to remove ice. Once you have all the gear, the last step is to check the ice to ensure it is thick enough to fish on. Here are some more detailed articles on the tips and tricks to ice fishing.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park has a 400m skating oval and a separate hockey pad that is decked out in lights for you to skate both day and night in some amazing scenery. On family day weekend, The Friends of MacGregor Point Park are hosting a weekend full of fun activities including an evening skate they call “Sparkle in the Park”. Ice reports can be found here.
A brave choice for how to spend a weekend in the winter is winter camping. Winter camping requires a lot of preparation, and having the appropriate great, to stay safe and have fun. One option is to camp in one of the provincial parks. MacGregor Point, Killarney, and Pinery are available to pitch a tent or trailer and also offer roofed or heated accommodations for overnighting. The other option is the well-kept secret of camping on crown land. Using crown land for recreational activities requires much less formal permitting than camping in a park, but it still has it’s regulationsthat users need to be aware of. Now the question of what land is crown land? The crown land use policy atlasis a helpful place to start finding your own hidden gems.
Other cool activities
Some other ideas for activities in the winter time are snowmobiling (as long as you have the proper permit), birding, fat biking, and dog sledding. Also keep an eye on your local conservation areas and provincial parks for special winter events near you.
To fully enjoy all these awesome activities there are a few things you should keep in mind to stay safe and warm:
Check the weather frequently. Make sure you double and triple check all water, ice and trail conditions especially in the last couple of hours before leaving. Pay strong attention to any warnings or advisories that might be in effect at the location you’re heading.
Layers are your friend. A common phrase among outdoor enthusiasts is “be bold, start cold” in order to prepare for the increase in body temperature once you start moving. The key is to also have a number of layers with varying levels of insulation so you can continuously adjust what you’re wearing to be comfortable no matter how much you are physically exerting yourself. When packing layers make sure you have options for your head, hands and feet as well.
Cotton is not your friend. Cotton retains moisture, so after it gets wet from sweat or snow, the cotton won’t dry and you’ll be wearing wet, cold, clothes the whole day. Instead dress in wool or polyester.
Have dry clothes ready for you in the car. Weather changes can be fast and dramatic, especially during the winter and if your forced to retreat to your car, having a change of dry clothes that you can put on prevents hypothermia.
Bring hot drinks. Having a thermos of tea with you is a great way to warm up while also hydrating. Coffee and hot chocolate do not hydrate the same way but are moral boosters.
Upcoming Coastal Community Workshops
Tues February 25, 2020
6:30 - 9:00 PM
Wed February 26, 2020
6:30 - 9:00 PM
Bruce County Museum, Southampton
Thurs March 5, 2020
6:30 - 8:30 PM
Huron County Museum, Goderich
Love your Lake? Save the Date!
Mark your calendars because the annual Great Goderich Shoreline Clean-up is coming up on Saturday April 18, 2020.
More information to come!
The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation supports environmental efforts along the Canadian coastline of Lake Huron. We foster communication and partnerships between environmental agencies and organizations, working towards a sustainable and resilient coast. We provide education, resources, and information on lake-wide issues and our programs reflect the inter-connectivity between land and water.