GBF 2021 - Fall Newsletter

This past summer, you might have enjoyed the company of a northern map turtle, green frog, calico pennant dragonfly, or Great Blue Heron along the shores of Georgian Bay. Like you probably did, these charismatic and iconic species spent a large part of their summer near the shoreline. In fact, these species depend on the shoreline and riparian zone for their very survival. This zone includes the first 30-metres of land around a lake, river, or bay and is often seen as a ribbon of life because it supports 70% of land-based wildlife and 90% of aquatic species at some point in their lifetime (Kipp & Callaway, 2003). Wildlife will use this area for food, water, shelter, breeding, and nesting. In addition to supporting wildlife populations, shorelines are important to Canadians—53% of surveyed Canadians said natural shorelines are an element that affected their personal enjoyment of being by the lake (Love Your Lake, 2020). Shorelines provide people with important cultural, recreational, and economic opportunities and can be fundamental in shaping our connection and relationship with freshwater and nature from an early age. Ontario is home to more than 250,000 lakes which means many of us have (or know someone who has!) a waterfront property that we can visit and enjoy. Increasingly though, these important areas and the wildlife that live there are under threat. By choosing many plants that bloom and fruit throughout the year, you will increasingly help local wildlife. Some examples include: • Wildflowers: Blue Lupine (blooms in spring), Wild Columbine (spring), Wild Bergamot (summer), Common Milkweed (summer), New England Aster (late summer/fall) • Shrubs: Allegheny Serviceberry (spring/ summer), Shrubby Cinquefoil (summer), Black Elderberry (late August), Smooth Arrowwood (fall), Winterberry Holly (winter), Red Osier Dogwood (winter) A great free tool you can use to pick native plants best suited for your property is the Native Plant Database (naturaledge.water This database selects plants based on Canada’s hardiness zones; much of Georgian Bay is located in zone 5b. Once you decide what you want to plant on your property, it is important to consider the size of your buffer. CREATING A RESILIENT SHORELINE KEEPING A NATURAL SHORELINE THAT BENEFITS YOUR FAMILY AND LOCAL WILDLIFE By Monica Seidel, Guest Writer Monica is a passionate and experienced environmental educator and communicator focused on connecting people with nature and wildlife and helping spark their natural curiosity. She has worked with conservation authorities, wildlife rehabilitation centres, and nonprofit organizations and is currently the Communications and Fundraising Coordinator at Watersheds Canada. About Watersheds Canada Watersheds Canada is a federally incorporated non-profit organization and registered Canadian charity (863555223RR0001) that is committed to building and sharing education and stewardship programs in communities across the country. Since 2002, these programs have engaged and helped youth, property owners, community groups, and organizations enhance and protect the health of their lakes, rivers, and shorelines. For more information, please visit Compared to turf grass, deep rooted plants like silver maple, black chokeberry, and nannyberry have extensive root systems, making them valuable for filtering runoff and stabilizing Over 55% of Canada’s species or unique populations of freshwater fish are at risk (Cooke, et al., 2021), with the Eastern Georgian Bay sub-watershed being scored as “very high” for various threat indicators including pollution, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and overuse of water (WWF-Canada, 2020). Facing increasing pressures from development and the changing climate, it is important to look at nature-based solutions to protect our freshwater areas. Planting on-land native vegetation—creating a buffer The best way to create wildlife habitat and protect your shoreline from erosion is to start or enhance a native plant buffer. In planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, your shoreline benefits from different root structures working to hold it together. When choosing suitable plants for your shoreline, it is important to consider your site conditions (sunlight, soil, moisture), personal preferences (plant type and height), and goals of planting. If protecting waterfront views is important to you, you will want to plant low growing species. Alternatively, if your main priority is attracting wildlife and pollinator species to your property, you may want to plant a variety of flowering and fruiting shrubs and wildflowers. One study found that a 30-metre buffer removed more than 85% of all studied pollutants including suspended sediment, nutrients, and pesticides (Zhang, et al., 2010)! This property was re-naturalized in 2018 using a variety of native plants. The photo on the right shows the transformation as of 2020. Photo provided by Watersheds Canada. BEFORE AFTER 4 | FALL 2021 | GBF.ORG