One of the most critical areas to maintain native vegetation is along your shoreline. Shoreline vegetation benefits water quality by reducing the amount of sediment, nutrients, organic matter and pesticides that enter our rivers and lakes. There is no better way to prevent soil erosion that to leave your shoreline in its natural state. Plant roots anchor the soil, preventing it from being washed away by currents, waves and rain. This preserves fish spawning beds, which can become destroyed by sediment accumulation due to erosion.
Overhanging branches from trees and shrubs shade the waters to prevent overheating and provide cover for small fish and other aquatic organisms. Debris such as logs and boulders also provide cover for many species, spawning areas for fish, and will serve to reduce the impact of waves on your shoreline.
Herbaceous Plants for Shoreline Projects
• Cattail (Typha latifolia)
• Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)
• New England Aster (Aster novae angliae)
• Swamp Milkweek (asclepias incarnata)
• White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)
• Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
• Wild Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
• Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
• Blue Big Stem (Andropogon gerardii)
• Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus)
• Indian Grass (Sorgastrum nutans)
• Fringed Sedge (Carex crinite)
Top Shoreline Trees and Shrubs
• Steeplebush (Spirea tomentosa)
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
• Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)
• Sweet Gale (Myrica gale)
• White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
• Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
• Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
• Tamarack (Larix laricina)
• Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
• Willow (Salix spp.)
• Take a kettle of boiling water and pour it on weeds that are growing between patio stones and on driveways. Save the environment from herbicides and save yourself the cost.
• Spread clover seed on an area of about a third of your lawn and you will never have to fertilize. Clover naturally puts nitrogen into the soil and can be bought as seed for a couple of dollars at the Agro-Centre 223 Main W. just north of Rolston Home Hardware.
SEPTIC – Ways to extend the life of your system and save money
• Reduce water flow to your system by setting toilets on low flush and using low flow showerheads.
• Dishwasher detergents can add a huge load of phosphates to your septic. To lower phosphate loading: Consumer Reports found that Finish Quantum (30 cents per load) performed best, followed by CR Best Buy, Finish Powerball Tabs (22 cents per load.) Cascade Complete All In 1 (28 cents per load) and Cascade with Dawn ActionPacs (23 cents per load) earned a score of Very Good.
• Laundry detergents should be phosphate free to prevent algae growth.
• Only biodegradables should be flushed, e.g., toilet paper.
LOONS – Sadly we see very few young loons on Oxbow any more. To improve breeding success it is important not to create a wake in the bay on the west side of the east arm (half way down) between May 15 and June 15. Jet skis should avoid going near those shores. Loons nest on the water’s edge and chicks can die of exposure to cold water or drown. There are only 2 max per nest.
If we do get young it is important not to separate the young from the parents out on the lake. The young are poor divers, exhaust easily and become available to predators.
COUGARS – We can only hope. The last record of a cougar “in the hand” in Ontario is from 1884! They were poisoned and shot into local extinction. There are rare sightings and all have been found to be escaped pets – mostly in southern Ontario. The MNR finds most sightings to be deer of different sizes.
BEARS – To stop resident bears from becoming a “nuisance” we need to reduce attractants.
How To Keep Bears Away From The Cottage
• Keep garbage in a secure place and take it to the landfill station regularly.
• If you compost, do it in a sealed and controlled manner.
• Bag fish guts for garbage disposal.
• Keep the BBQ clean at all times.
• Wash your recyclable cans, bottles, and jars thoroughly.
How To Avoid Bears When Hiking
• Carry a bell, horn and bear pepper spray when hiking.
• Stay far away from a mother bear with cubs.
• Be mindful around patches of blueberries and raspberries in the summer.
To report a “nuisance” bear around your property, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Bear Wise hotline at 1-866-514-BEAR, TTY 705-945-7641. In an immediate emergency call 9-1-1.
TAKING CARE OF THE LAKE
(with thanks to Marc Lichtenburg)
By following these suggestions, you can help keep our water clean.
The nutrients that we add to the lakes- especially phosphorous- are a major water quality problem. These extra nutrients cause excessive plant growth and the algae build-up you see on your boat’s hull and along shorelines. If we don’t cut down on nutrient loading, we’ll have cloudy water, unpleasant tastes and odours, and a lot fewer fish.
Buy phosphate-free soaps, shampoos, cleansers and detergents (especially dishwasher detergent) but they have to go into soil to degrade.
Maintain a natural shoreline with trees and bushes that absorb nutrients before they reach the water
Keep organic matter such as raked leaves and garden clippings away from the water. Establish a composting area away from streams, rivers and lakes to help reduce nutrient rich runoff.
Bathe or shampoo in the lake
Use fertilizers anywhere near the water
Alter the natural shoreline by adding sand or other fill
SEPTIC SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
Private septic systems can be major contributors of disease-causing microbiological contamination. Keep your system in shape.
Check for trouble signs: water pooling, damp areas and odours.
Pump out and inspect the tank every 2-3 years. Septic systems that were installed 20 or more years ago may not meet today’s standards.
Keep the tile field free of trees and shrubs
Build any new septic systems as far from the water as possible.
Let anyone drive or park on your tile field.
Allow any wastewater to bypass your septic system
Biodegradable means that common bacteria in septic systems, soil and water will break down a substance to its original elements over a period of time. So, buying biodegradable soaps, shampoos, detergents and other products is a step in the right direction. However, the biodegradable label doesn’t mean that the substance is completely non-polluting and it’s no guarantee that the elements left after the break-down are totally harmless to the environment.
Buy biodegradable products
Make sure all wastewater goes through your septic system
Use the biodegradable label as a license to wash in the lake, under any circumstances
The nature of the Muskoka landscape means that almost any improperly handled toxic materials will eventually end up in the water. Common sense and caution are the best defense
Use environmentally safe cleansers or natural alternatives.
Call your Municipality and ask about the disposal of paint paint thinners, oils, wood preservatives, and poisons
check all gas and oil storage tanks regularly for leaks and always use a funnel near water.
Keep it natural – avoid using pesticides and herbicides
Bury household hazardous materials or pour them down the drain
Lifestyle makes the difference
Low Phosphorus Lifestyle vs High Phosphorus Lifestyle
Human Waste 535 G vs Human Waste 535G
No Dishwasher 0 G vs Dishwasher using powdered detergent once a day 650 G
No Fertilizer 0 G vs Lawn fertilized once a year using 10% each nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus 1960 G
Trees not cut down 20 G vs Lot cleared of trees 30 G
use of phosphate free household products 20 G vs use of household products containing phosphates regularly 180 G
Total phosphorous 575 G vs Total phosphorous 3355 G
For more information on the State of the Lakes in the District Municipality of Muskoka contact the Planning and Economic Development Department, Bracebridge, ON. P1L 1N3
Ph. (705) 645-2231