Lake Scugog, is it a ‘sitting duck’ for new invasives?

An article for CAPS magazine, July, 2017.  The GTA has a population of 6.5 million with a long shoreline on Lake Ontario. Coming into its docks are ships from around the world bringing two kinds of cargoes, the goods we need and, unfortunately, tiny stowaways from far away. When these stowaways come ashore, they have the potential to cause real damage to our native ecosystem.

Consequently, we now have a parade of invasive aquatic species taking over Lake Scugog. They thrive on the warm water and excess nutrients running off the land.  Could we have avoided it, probably not, we are ‘a sitting duck’ so close to our country’s major city.

Prop with EVMHere in Scugog, we have been slow to recognise that washing boats and trailers before and after they enter our lake is the only way to slow down this invasion.  We didn’t want to spoil the boaters’ fun and we didn’t have the money to install signs and boat washing areas well away from the lake. We would need big help with that.

All lakes will eventually fill in. The Stewards are trying to do is find out how we can slow down this process and with the fewest possible nasty consequences along the way.

Would you like to do your part?  What we know is that it is a mistake to have a mown lawn down to water’s edge. That just makes the problem worse because it removes all of nature’s plant and critter cleaners and allows nutrients and silt to slide off your lawn into the lake. There is no better water cleaner than the lowly cattail.

Fish need a place to spawn. Hatchlings need shelter and food. Shorelines stripped to just grass or even sloped stones with no undergrowth offer nothing to the lake cleaners – the fish, the birds, the turtles.

Personally, learning to landscape for the country meant turning almost every idea I learned when studying Landscape Architecture upside down. For instance, use trees and meadows to Infiltrate rain water into your land, — it is good for your well and the lake. Keep hard surfaces to a minimum as they create more problem runoff into streams and the lake.  A buffer strip of native trees, shrubs and plants along the waterfront will bring opportunities for wildlife watching and will keep the lake clean, too.  Plant native species because they work best in tandem with all other parts of our eco-system. You will be rewarded with butterflies, birds, turtles and even fish that are the interesting part of country life.

Yes, Lake Scugog has been a sitting duck for years and we have paid the price with horrible invasive plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil, Curly leaf pondweed, the alga Starry stonewort. There are invasive animals, as well, such as zebra mussels and even quagga mussels.  But with your help, the Lake Stewards’ lake research, and many more partners, we can prevent the lake from getting worse and from filling in faster. Help us do that by becoming a member at or come to see us at the Craft Brewery Festival, August 12, in Palmer Park.

The Lake Stewards are very pleased to report that they have just received funding from the Federation of Ontario Cottagers (FOCA) to develop and install a Lake Scugog specific sign telling of the supreme importance of pressure washing all areas of boats and trailers both before and after coming to Lake Scugog.  We will work with the Ontario Invading Species Council and Kawartha Conservation to develop the boat launch area sign that we would plan to replicate at as many other boat launches around Scugog as we can receive funding to do.