History of the Lake Stewards

Early History:

eroding shoreline
Joe Fowler Park before

The early impetus for the Stewards was the researched fact that of 2,217 properties around Lake Scugog, only 410 had natural shorelines that were good fish or wildlife habitat. The rest of the property shorelines exhibited either hard walls or grass right to the lake. This was not good for lake life or the health of the lake. It was time to change thinking about just what kind of landscaping was appropriate for country, versus city, properties.

Therefore, the Scugog Shores Millennium Committee was started in 1999 by five committed volunteers determined to make a difference in conventional thinking about what was best practice. They raised over $350,000 and gathered interest with the Township of Scugog to naturalize an eroding piece of shoreline from Palmer Park beach in Port Perry (see photo at left – before) to the area near the Loblaws grocery store, and to install an accessible walking trail, fishing areas, a small bridge and develop interpretive signage.  The shoreline erosion protection thus constructed included 7 different techniques to test how well the currently-promoted methodologies for environmental shoreline protection worked on Lake Scugog where ice push-up and wave action are powerful.

That same area in 2021

The first area created in 2001-2012 was Joe Fowler Park behind the ball parks and the picnic shelter off Water Street. (Photo above: the shoreline before and below; the same area now, 2021, for comparison)

In 2003, the Millennium Committee became an incorporated charitable organization called Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.

Bill Lishman designed bridge

The next area tackled was the small triangle of parkland at Water and Curt Streets, later to be called Baagwating Park. This area included a crudely-built stormwater channel that drained over 55 acres of urban south Port Perry into Lake Scugog. Too much untreated runoff full of silt, sediment, nutrients and many pollutants was flowing through this channel. Therefore, the Stewards worked to create two different retention ponds and spillways that would allow solids and their load of contaminants to fall out of suspension along a reconstructed and heavily naturalized channel before entering the lake. A small decorative bridge by local sculptor Bill Lishman was installed over the channel, which is still a highly loved Port Perry attraction.

As the area available to build was small, these ponds, while very effective, have proved insufficient to treat the large volumes of untreated stormwater entering the lake at peak times. This problem will be even greater with the increased water volumes expected due to climate change.  This concern became the impetus for the Lake Scugog Enhancement Project.

After completion of the Millennium Trail and naturalization project, the Lake Stewards focused on community education, research, milfoil control and stormwater improvement, but always working with their mission “to protect and enhance the health of Lake Scugog”.  One initiative stands out as useful for the lake. The Stewards pushed Township Council to create the Healthy Lake Scugog Steering Committee which finally brought all the seven governments bodies that control Lake Scugog together with the Scugog Lake Stewards to help plan a healthy future for the lake.

The prime motivation of this group was to address the high level of nutrients and aquatic plants in the lake, especially in Port Perry Bay. That bay had been identified through the Lake Scugog Environmental Management Plan (2010) by Kawartha Conservation as a major trouble area for the lake because of nutrients and sediment brought in by urban stormwater. While urban areas in Scugog only make up 3.5% of the area, almost 20% of the yearly phosphorus load in the lake comes from urban runoff, mainly Port Perry.  Several of the worst contributing outflows drain from Port Perry south of Palmer Park.

After looking at a wide range of other solutions, the Steering Committee is now well along in planning and enacting the Lake Scugog Enhancement Project which will use a constructed wetland approach to improve the water quality running into Lake Scugog from all the stormwater channels south of Palmer Park. This Township of Scugog project has as its partners, Kawartha Conservation, the Scugog Lake Stewards and lately, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. GHD Group, Environmental consultants was hired to draw up the plans. Final permits are well underway. (2021) It is the main purpose of the Lake Stewards on the LSEP team to help raise funds through grants and a community campaign.

Where are the Scugog Lake Stewards today?

  • We have very strong partnerships with Kawartha Conservation, Ontario Tech. University and the Kawartha Lake Stewards Association as well as a myriad of other connections.
  • We continuously carry out research, research information consolidation and lobbying to be informed about changes in the lake so that we might respond accordingly.
  • We continue extensive communication and education of the community through our website, Facebook and Instagram posts and articles in newspapers and magazines about protecting the health of the lake.  We prepare brochures and handouts about good lake management.
  • We are especially active in promoting shoreline erosion protection and naturalization as well as the necessity for ‘Clean, Drain, Dry” requirements to prevent additional invasive species.
  • We are active in following information on fish populations and habitat, working with the MNRF and DFO on fish issues including participation in their planned walleye spawning bed restoration projects.
  • We follow lake water levels and work closely with the Trent-Severn Waterway and Kawartha Conservation on issues related to lake water issues.
  • We are involved with fundraising for SLS interests and we actively promote our working relationship with universities, conservation groups, all levels of government and consultants.
  • We maintain diligent and continuous records and have yearly financial audits.