HUNTSVILLE - A new project will ask private property owners to take action to protect lake health.
The Fairy Lake Shoreline Stewardship Program is a new volunteer-based initiative to assess and protect Huntsville’s Fairy Lake through property owner education about, and commitment to, sustainability.
But the two-year project has an estimated cost of about $150,000 and project volunteers are asking the Town of Huntsville to help it secure an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to cover the costs.
Coun. Scott Aitchison, chair of the sustainability committee, said the project depends on the grant. But the town is able to apply for only one foundation grant this year, so it will have to review its other projects before committing to the Fairy Lake project funding application.
Aitchison seemed to support the project during a February council meeting.
“There was a shoreline inventory done of most of the lakes in the area. It was a very high-level, very general review. This one would be a little more in-depth in terms of what is in fact going on with the shoreline,” he said.
The District of Muskoka, the Fairy Lake Association, the University of Waterloo and the Muskoka Watershed Council would work together on the project to assess the health of Fairy Lake then work one-on-one with shoreline property owners to protect it.
According to a report, volunteers would deliver letters of introduction to property owners, host information lunches, deliver personalized stewardship plans and provide ongoing stewardship support for participating property owners.
Program staff is aiming to have about 100 property owners participate. Volunteers intend to survey about 1,000 properties along the shoreline over the two years.
Actions that property owners could take to promote lake stewardship could include the installation of water conservation devices, the use of environmentally friendly products, maintenance of septic systems, planting of native vegetation, reduced use of fertilizers, the creation of shoreline buffers and the use of rain barrels, among others.
“New, larger waterfront developments, the influx of baby boomers retiring to this region and the growing trend of converting cottages to year-round homes can harm water quality, human heath and wildlife habitat,” stated the project report. “We have seen too often the results of a ‘neglected’ lake, including eroded shorelines, closed beaches, fish kills and algal blooms. If not managed sustainably, we will lose these water resources, which are intricately linked to the economic health and social vitality of our communities.”
The reported noted that it is “difficult or impossible” to reverse shoreline development once it starts but providing stewardship information to property owners before development happens can help mitigate the impact on the lake.
Council supported the project. The grant application is pending.