2020: Challenges, Successes, A New Path Forward
Volunteers plant native species as part of EC's Camp Kawartha shoreline makeover (see story below) and Lake Guardians sample benthic invertibrates taken from the Camp's shallow beachfront as part of our Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring program.
In This Issue
• 2020 – Finding a path forward in a challenging year
Starry Stonewort Update: Preventing the spread, monitoring and mapping
• It's a wrap! Our Camp Kawartha shoreline restoration project comes to a close
Gypsy Moths: What can be done now to reduce their impact in 2021
2020: Challenges, Successes, A Path Forward
Monitoring SSW: Annalise, Lucy and Kaleigh at work in Gilchrist Bay, August 20, 2020.
COVID has had far reaching effects on our everyday lives including our passion for protecting the environment. In addition to COVID, the outbreak of Gypsy moth, spring algal blooms and the threat of further spread of Starry stonewort (SSW) has caused a high level of anxiety amongst the lake community. 

Unfortunately, Starry Stonewort will not be eradicated and it will alter and impact our natural ecosystems. This along with shoreline development, pesticide use, nutrient loading, multiple invasive species and climate change have combined and cumulative effects on aquatic ecosystem health. Those of us who have been around the lakes as children can see obvious signs of stress on the lakes including a decline in biodiversity of our fisheries, turtles and frogs, increases in invasive species (e.g., zebra mussel, Starry stonewort, Eurasian water-milfoil, etc.) and changes in water levels and quality (e.g., increased size and frequency of algal blooms that are occurring earlier in the spring). It is no longer effective to manage a response that focuses on a single species such as Starry stonewort.
Understanding the baseline composition of the benthic communities in Ston(e)y and Clear Lakes will help us to assess the long-term impacts of climate change, invasive species and development on our lakes. Here, the Lake Guardians conduct benthic invertibrate sampling on the silty Camp Kawartha shoreline.
Despite these many challenges, EC has launched some key projects this year:

• Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring Program for Clear, Stoney and White Lakes

• The Lake Guardian program to engage college and university students to do monitoring in these lakes. We have involved science experts from Fleming College and Trent University to provide advice and design of defensible monitoring programs. 

Best Management Practices to Control the Spread of Starry Stonewort, a document developed in collaboration with a number of academic and government authorities, and shared along with expert advice from Dr. Brian Ginn about the impacts of SSW on Lake Simcoe (see webinar videos, below).
SSW: Keeping It Away From Your Waterfront
HOW DO I KEEP STARRY STONEWORT AWAY FROM MY SHORELINE?
The following are 3 high-risk activities that may bring SSW to your dock:

1. Boat travel from infested areas (SSW can attach itself to your boat and propellor).

2. Weed harvesters moving from an infested area to your waterfront; they may also remove natural aquatic plant competition creating space and light in which SSW can establish and flourish.

3. Barges, dock installers or construction crews that launch in, or travel through, an infested area before landing at your dock.

PREVENT THE SPREAD! 
Whenever possible, avoid travelling through infested areas, including Gilchrist Bay, the waterfront and dock area at Wildfire Golf Club, the Lost Channel, and areas of Mackenzie Bay, Big Duck Pond, Little Duck Pond, and Lovers Lane. This is particularly important during peak biomass periods from late July to the end of September.

This summer, new patches are being found by docks and boathouses where there is high boat traffic from infested areas. 
 
If you must travel through infested waters, once clear of the area, reverse your motor to free any plant material, try to remove all SSW from your propellor, and gather it all safely in your boat. DON'T THROW IT IN THE WATER! Dispose of it on land well away from the lake. 

HAVING WORK DONE AT YOUR COTTAGE? Make sure that any contractors, builders, dock installation crews, or barge delivery services DO NOT go through SSW infested areas en route to your waterfront. 

CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY
Don't spread SSW to other lakes: If you are removing your boat from the lake, CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY your boat, prop, bilge, live-wells and trailer ensuring that no plant material will transfer to another body of water. For more details about SSW and Clean, Drain and Dry protocols, CLICK HERE:

The EC is preparing a new map of hot spots based on systematic monitoring using GPS and GIS technology. We will publish and share the map as soon as it's ready.  
(From left) Dr. Eric Sager, Trent University, with Kaleigh and Lucy, two of the Lake Guardians presently monitoring SSW in several locations in Ston(e)y Lake. 
Lake Guardians: Monitoring and Mapping SSW
The Lake Guardians gather in Gilchrist Bay for training in aquatic macrophytes, including SSW, with members of Dr. Sager's Trent University lab.

We know, at the moment, that it's not possible to eradicate Starry stonewort from our waters. There is no known, safe, permanent treatment for it, though there is research being done that we are watching closely. This summer, the Environment Council has focussed on accurately mapping SSW in our waters and continuing education efforts. 

An overview:

  • Six lake associations and the Stony Lake Heritage Foundation approved funding to support Environment Council to coordinate a new aquatic ecosystem monitoring program, which includes the Lake Guardian team comprised of environmental studies students and graduates.
  • A detailed SSW monitoring and mapping project was developed with the help of Dr. Eric Sager and some of his students and Lake Guardians.
  • Training by Dr. Sager's lab for all 12 of the Lake Guardians on aquatic macrophytes (including SSW) took place at Pine Vista in Gilchrist Bay in July. (See images below.)
  • Soon after, two Lake Guardians began working in the area, using a 30 m grid system, sampling and mapping (using GPS and GIS) to assess the entirety of Gilchrist Bay – the area of largest infestation of SSW and the greatest risk of accelerated spread by boats travelling through it, fragmenting it and dragging it to other areas of the lake.
  • Given the enormity of this project, we have recently adjusted our funding, with the support of the Stony Lake Heritage Foundation, and increased the number of Lake Guardians dedicated to this work.

 

  • After Gilchrist Bay, monitoring will take place in Upper Stoney in the Big Duck Pond and Little Duck Pond and in Lower Stony in Mackenzie Bay and the Lost Channel using a boat and kayaks that HAVE NOT been in any infested areas. The same grid system of sampling and mapping (using GPS) will occur in these areas.
  • This work will carry on until the end of September.
  • While some of the LGs are focussed on field work, others with experience with GIS (Geographic Information System) are taking the data and creating an updated map of SSW hot spots.
  • Updated mapping will help to inform Best Management Practices.
  • Anyone on Ston(e)y, Clear or White Lakes can report SSW in their area by using our website contact form – www.environmentcouncil.ca/contact. We will have the LGs assess, ID the plants and GPS locations for future monitoring. 

Thank you to Kevin and Julie Drain of Pine Vista and Percy Little of Little's Marina (both Gilchrist Bay) who have been committed to helping with the research and monitoring efforts and have provided docking and a research boat, respectively, during our work in Gilchrist Bay.



Four Lake Guardians spent a recent afternoon talking about SSW, Best Management Practices, and other invasive species with cottagers and boaters travelling through Gilchrist Bay. Boaters were given information sheets and buckets to keep in their boats for the safe transport and disposal of any SSW they remove from their propellors. (From left) Madeline, Kyra, Roselyn and Kimberly. Click the button (below) to read about the Lake Guardians and their work.

Watch Our SSW Webinar
In late July, the EC hosted a webinar with Dr. Brian Ginn of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Dr. Ginn, aka the Lake Doctor, has been dealing with SSW in Lake Simcoe for 10 years. We've broken the webinar down into three short videos (10 - 15 mins each). Part 1, featuring Dr. Ginn, is below. You can view the second two, including a presentation on Best Management Practices, via the these links:
Part 2: Dr. Ginn 
Part 3: Ed Paleczny, Maintaining Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems: Starry Stonewort Impacts and Best Management Practices
Shoreline Restoration
Landscape architect Helen Batten (above, left) and landscaper Doug Kennedy prepare our volunteer corps to plant the steep slope in Camp Kawartha's woodland waterfront area.

Restoration project brings new life to Camp Kawartha shoreline

 

Another section of Camp Kawartha's shoreline on Clear Lake got a makeover on Saturday morning, August 15, thanks to more than 20 enthusiastic planting volunteers.

 

This completes a two-year project to revitalize damaged sections of the Camp's shoreline and return them to a more natural state. While the EC initiated this project as a demonstration of the beauty and importance to lake health of naturalized shorelines, we were supported by a number of foundations, individual donors and the Camp itself.

 

This year's volunteers included members of the lake community and local environmental studies students, who are also acting as Lake Guardians this summer to help carry out an extensive Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring Project on Clear and Ston(e)y Lakes. Together, they planted more than 250 native perennial wildflowers, grasses, ferns and shrubs in a woodland clearing that slopes steeply toward the lake, greatly increasing the plant diversity of the site.

Gypsy Moths: What You Can Do Now
2020 has been a challenging year for anyone whose trees were overrun with Gypsy moths. Fortunately, there's still some action you can take this fall to limit the damage next spring, when the larvae come to life and ascend into trees to feed on new foliage. Scraping egg masses off your trees and into a bucket of soapy water will destroy the eggs before they hatch. The soapy water is key. If you simply scrape the egg sacks onto the ground, they can survive to wreak havoc next May. Next year, any larvae (caterpillars) can be treated by wrapping your tree trunks in burlap (to capture the larvae before dropping them into soapy water) or localized hand spraying using a soap solution (recipe in link below). For more information, and to watch videos demonstrating how to rid your trees of Gypsy moth egg masses – which can contain between 600 and 1,000 eggs each – or the burlap banding technique, click the link.

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