History of the Lake Stewards
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 the 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 the shoreline area from Palmer Park beach to the area near the Loblaws grocery store, to install an accessible walking trail, fishing areas, a small bridge and develop interpretive signage. The shoreline erosion protection construction included 7 different techniques to test how well the methodologies for environmental shorelines worked on Lake Scugog where ice push-up and wave action is powerful.
The first area created in 2001-2012 was Joe Fowler Park behind the ball parks and the picnic shelter off Water Street.
In 2003, the Millennium Committee became an incorporated charitable organization called Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.
The next area tackled was the small triangle of parkland at Water and Curt Streets. This area included a stormwater channel that was said to drain over 55 hectares of south Port Perry.
This developed the interest of the group in the importance of improving the quality of stormwater runoff from urban areas. Therefore the small park included two different deep stormwater settlement ponds and spillways to pull off much of the solids from stormwater before it entered the lake. As the area available to build was small, these ponds, while very effective have proved insufficient to treat the large volume of untreated stormwater entering the lake there, especially in these times of increased water volumes due to climate change. The inclusion of a small bridge, designed and built by Bill Lishman, and full planting with native plants completed the Park. The park was opened with much fanfare as Baagwating Park in 2004 to celebrate the generosity of the charitable arm of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. The years 2005 and 2006 saw the Stewards involved in maintenance of the two park areas and lake water research to determine the value of the new construction. We especially looked at the bacteria and e-coli counts in the water prior to, and after flowing through the two ponds and planted channel.
After this 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. Perhaps their latest largest project is:
The Lake Scugog Enhancement Project: A project to protect the health of all Lake Scugog
- In 2012 the Stewards pushed the municipality to create the Healthy Lake Scugog Steering Committee of Scugog Council, which continues to bring all the government agencies that regulate the lake together for roundtable discussion. The prime motivation was to try to address the high level of nutrients and aquatic plants in the lake, especially in Port Perry Bay. That bay had been identified through Kawartha Conservation management plan research as a major trouble area for the lake and especially Port Perry Bay 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 those areas, mainly Port Perry. Several of the worst contributing outflows drain from Port Perry south of Palmer Park.
- As an active voice on the Committee, the Stewards wished the group to look into the possibility of dredging parts of the Bay and, rather than pumping or moving the material to an off-shore location, to use it to create an engineered wetland to treat the problem stormwater using the biological action of soil and the remediation capability of plants. This would thereby increase the depth of the bay and remove the vast amounts of invasive, non-native aquatic plants and their roots.
- 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 the wetland approach. GHD Group, Environmental consultants was hired to draw up the plans. It is now awaiting approval by the new Scugog Township Council hopefully in January 2019. Final permits are well underway.
- The new Enhancement Project is a Township of Scugog project in partnership with Kawartha Conservation and the Scugog Lake Stewards.
- Starting in 2005 the Stewards worked with graduate student, Kyle Borrowman to study the resurgence of Eurasian Watermilfoil in the lake and determined through DNA testing that the milfoil was now an hybrid between classic Eurasian watermilfoil and native Northern watermilfoil. This definitely gave the new variety hybrid vigor.
In 2009 and 2012 the Stewards raised funds, much of which again came from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, to implant additional native milfoil weevils in the lake to combat the milfoil. This was given up as too expensive and the reproduction rate was lower than expected.
- In 2015, the Stewards began monitoring patrols around the lake photographing all the aquatic plant and algae species. A manual was produced for reference. It was this year that they first found and identified new invasive algae, Starry stonewort.
- In 2016 the Stewards continued patrols with support from Dr. Andrea Kirkwood’s lab at U.O.I.T. They then successfully applied for a $369,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to extend the lake research for three years with U.O.I.T. and Kawartha Conservation. At the end of 2016 they held their first Science Roundtable to share experiences with a wide range of universities, government agencies, and more. Of special importance was the discussion of the new invasive Starry Stonewort and its importance to lake life, especially fish.
2017 saw a continuation of water quality sampling, aquatic plant and algae analysis, and sediment analysis by U.O.I.T. and Directors of the Stewards. Kawartha Conservation under the same grant started Citizen Science studying near shore water quality. Short videos were created about that research and how to keep the lake as healthy as possible (See YouTube: Scugog Lake Stewards for 30 or so videos). Another Science Roundtable was held. For the first time through-the-ice water quality and sediment samples will be taken and sampled.
- Worked on the Durham Region environmental assessment committee to provide an environmentally sound solution for improving the Port Perry Pollution Control Plant.
- Were very active members of Kawartha Conservation’s Low Water Response team, their Bluescaping program.
Received a grant from the Ontario Federation of Cottagers’ Associations to create a specific Clean/Drain/Dry sign for installation at the municipal boat launch at Port Perry speaking about not only cleaning boats before but after enjoying Lake Scugog.
- Working with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) to determine walleye numbers by conducting a “Walleye Watch” program for the third year. In addition, the Stewards are working with the OMNRF and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to install a new walleye spawning bed.
The Lake Stewards continue to take what they have learned and put it to good use. They try to keep the lake as healthy as possible and help make the community aware of how to do that through strong education programs.