Lake Scugog Shoreline Naturalization

Buffer strip example
An example of a natural buffer strip for an existing shoreline property. This one has some contour, year around interest, and takes up about 75% of the lake edge to 25% given to recreation.

The Scugog Lake Stewards were originally started in 1999 by two fishermen, a duck hunter and a landscape architect and the group was called the Scugog Shores Millennium Project, and later became the incorporated charitable organization — Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.  These early members were concerned that city ideas for landscaping around the lake were reducing lake water quality as well as the quality and quantity of fishing and hunting. Of 2,217 properties around the lake, only 410 properties had natural shorelines. Their original mandate involved trying to encourage people to have some habitat for lake life on their properties.  Since that time, both the Township and Kawartha Conservation have also become involved in protecting shoreline habitat and the positive value of having a vegetative filter for stormwater runoff.

Existing shoreline owners are only REQUESTED by the Scugog Lake Stewards and Kawartha Conservation to naturalize their shorelines but leaving enough space for a dock and lake access.  In fact, if you travel around the lake now, you will note that a good percentage of the edge of Lake Scugog is natural and this bodes well for the future health of the lake and its inhabitants.

The Stewards’ reasons for suggesting natural shorelines are:

(1) 90% of lake life takes place within 20 ft. of the shoreline of a lake.  Fish spawn, feed and hide from predators along natural shorelines.  Also, birds nest, feed and find shelter, frogs and salamanders live to provide food for other species. Cut grass and hard walls provide none of that.  Ask any fisherman, duck hunter or bird watcher about the importance of natural shorelines.
(2) Naturalization, especially with trees and shrubs with deep roots such as willows, naturally use up a great deal of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients from your property before it moves into the lake and causes greater weediness, algae and/or murky water.

(3) Naturalization, especially including trees and shrubs and deeply rooted native plants are great erosion barriers. When fronted as well with a gentle slope of either rip rap or large round boulders, this type of shoreline should resist ice push- up even on Lake Scugog. 

(4) Without constantly eroding shorelines and ditches carrying runoff — huge volumes of silt and sediment are prevented from going into the lake and making it shallower.  Consider a soft grass water edge in winter.  It will be pushed up by the ice and in spring it will have to be pushed back down again with much of that loose soil sliding into the lake and making it generally shallower.  (The natural area at the left is actually built on top of an original ice push up which now holds permanently because of roots, especially by the large willow trees.)

(5) Natural water plants, especially cattails harbour all sorts of positive tiny creatures that break down and remove really nasty pollutants such as harmful bacteria, parasites and even some toxins. Those small, almost microscopic creatures at the shoreline edge, feed larger lake varieties, which feed larger fish and birds.  All of these species eat up the algae at the shoreline as well.  

(6) Natural shorelines keep geese from coming ashore because they are afraid that a predator may be lurking behind the foliage.  Geese create large amounts of bacteria that pollutes the lake and your grass.

(7) Rough areas at your shoreline provide areas for over-wintering by the beneficial bio-control — milfoil weevils. These native weevils are the only species specific solution found so far for invasive Eurasian water milfoil.  Cut grass is not suitable.

(8) Natural shorelines, made up of native plants provide wonderful areas for viewing a wide range of nature be it frogs, minnows, birds, butterflies, and so much more. Look for the beautiful native species of plants that love shorelines.  Ask for them at garden centers and look especially for varieties with value as erosion control.  Your children and grandchildren will love it.
(9) In-water shoreline plants help break up wave action that erodes your shoreline during summer.  

(10) Natural and diverse shorelines are just so much more interesting and attractive to be near.  They are environmentally complex rather than sterile.  A beautiful shoreline edge with interesting edges and places to enjoy, is an asset rather than a detriment.