Kawartha Land Trust teamed up with the Environment Council for Clear, Stony and White Lakes to conduct an impressive shoreline assessment and mapping project — the results of which will vastly improve conservation efforts in the region.
While 2021 was another unprecedented year due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the teams at Kawartha Land Trust (KLT) and the Environment Council for Clear, Stony and White Lakes, with the support of The Stony Lake Heritage Foundation and local donors, managed to safely conduct their critical environmental work.
The assessment and mapping project was launched to meet the need for current, reliable data to support environmental advocacy and conservation work in the area. The data will also help to identify ecologically significant properties along the shoreline.
“We hope this assessment and mapping project will help people on the lake appreciate what natural shoreline does for quality of life on the lake — to appreciate what is left to lose if we aren’t careful,” says Thomas Unrau, Director of Community Conservation at KLT.
“Helping communities protect ecological values that matter to them is one of the many things we do at KLT,” Unrau continues, “our goal is to find landowners who are inspired to care for their land and to help them do just that.”
The two environmental organizations, along with three students from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program at Fleming College and experts from both the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the GIS department at the County of Peterborough, began the shoreline assessment and mapping project in the spring of 2021.
The project integrated satellite data provided by the provincial government and ground-truth verification specifying details about the vegetation and shorelines, which was obtained by the summer students using canoes.
KLT’s staff and volunteers paddled all 114 kilometers of the shorelines, circumnavigating both lakes and digitizing the shoreline status as they went along. “It was a tremendous amount of effort from a great field crew,” adds Unrau.
The results of the project are an asset for the protection and conservation of these ecologically significant shorelines and the numerous species they support. The data not only gives the clearest look to date of overall shoreline health in the region, but it also represents an opportunity for action.
Notably, the analysis reveals that 64% of the combined shorelines are natural while 36% are altered.
“This information is so valuable to the Council,” says Roz Moore, Chair of the Environment Council for Clear, Stony and White Lakes. “With it, we can clearly communicate policy needs to local governments in order to create bylaws that meaningfully address the need to protect remaining shorelines.”
“It will help KLT collaborate with landowners of natural shorelines and to thank them for caring for overall lake health,” says Unrau of the data garnered. “KLT protects almost 600 acres of land relevant to the people around Clear and Stony Lakes, including 2.8 kilometres of natural shoreline.”
“We’re proud to protect this precious natural resource,” Unrau continues, “but we realize that it’s the collective landowners around the lake who ultimately determine lake health. The more we can get the word out to the lake community about what we can do together, the more we can protect the natural beauty of these shorelines.”
Analysis shows that there are exciting opportunities for local landowners to contribute to shoreline health in meaningful ways.
Everyone across the lake plays an important part in maintaining shoreline beauty, habitat, and water quality. “Nobody controls the spirit of the lake on their own — it’s something we all do together,” Unrau explains.
The natural shorelines on Clear and Stony Lakes provide numerous benefits to both wildlife and human populations. You can help protect the natural beauty of these shorelines by supporting the environmental work of KLT and the Environment Council today.
Kawartha Land Trust encourages anyone interested in understanding how their shoreline or acreage contributes to shoreline health and how they can maintain a healthy shoreline to get in touch with Thom Unrau at [email protected].
To learn how you can get involved and support the Environment Council for Clear, Stony and White Lakes, visit environmentcouncil.ca.
Photo: Kawartha Land Trust land stewardship inventory technicians Veronica Price-Jones and Lexi Armstrong canoe through Stony Lake’s Gilchrist Bay on their last day of shoreline assessment in September 2021. (Veronica Price-Jones/KLT)
Article originally published in the 2022 summer issue of ASLC Islander magazine.