As mentioned last month in this cottageinmuskoka blog entry and this news story from the Huntsville Forester (Cottage Country Now), the decline of calcium in our lakes can affect our lakes recovery from acid rain as well as zooplankton in our lakes, which are are very sensitive to declining calcium levels.
This is interesting information of value not only for those who own a cottage in Muskoka, but all of us who live in or visit Muskoka. In the presentation Dr. Shaun Watmough of Trent University helps us understand:
Why should we care about calcium in the environment?
How are calcium levels in lakes, vegetation and soils changing?
What is causing these changes?
What will be the impact of timber harvesting on lake calcium levels?
Even if you aren’t paddling in the event, it’s an … ahem… Great Experience to watch.
This Saturday, at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge, come out and see why The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience has become an epic one in Ontario paddling and beyond.
Mentioned in a number of Muskoka Watershed Council lectures over the past few years, calcium decline in Muskoka Lakes and in particular, the consequences of timber harvesting on lake calcium levels have been hinted at as a potential direct cause of declining health of our lakes in Muskoka. Here’s a past primer news story from the Huntsville Forester (Cottage Country News).
This week, we have an opportunity to discover more.
Dr. Shaun Watmough, an Associate Professor in the Environmental Resource Science Program at Trent University in Peterborough will present.
Here is a synopsis of the lecture:
Decades of acid deposition have depleted soil calcium reserves and, when combined with timber harvesting, predicted losses of calcium from soil are considerable and may ultimately threaten long-term forest health and productivity and lead to negative impacts on lakes.
In this talk, Dr. Watmough will provide an overview of our current understanding of calcium biogeochemistry and describe the reasons for the widespread decline in calcium levels in lakes and the implications of calcium losses on soil fertility and forest health in addition to impacts on lake ecosystems.
With an emphasis on south central Ontario, Dr. Watmough will document a nutrient budget for a selection harvesting regime in central Ontario hardwood forests. This work is then extrapolated to regional harvesting activities and management issues are discussed.
The lecture is this Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Nipissing University – Muskoka Campus, 125 Wellington Street, Bracebridge, P1L 1E2. As always, admission is by donation
Did you know that Gravenhurst Bay in Lake Muskoka is 4 to 5 times cleaner than it was 1970?
Did you know that everyone alive in the 70’s had toxic levels of lead in their blood?
Did you know that Muskoka has only half as many acid lakes as it once did?
Well, how about this then: if it wasn’t for the life in lakes, we would all be blind, deaf , stupid and dead.
To be blunt; we would all be blind, deaf , stupid and dead if it wasn’t for the life in lakes.
Learn how the reduction of phosphorus resulted in a clean up in Gravenhurst Bay while the International Joint Commission was still debating whether its carbon or phosphorus that spikes algal growth? This local Muskoka cleanup helped convince the world that phosphorus is the cause of cultural eutrophication. This phenomena is of increasing concern as population grows and the climate heats up; after all, we learned from this lecture, that algae really love heat.
Current photo of lake in China where people swim in an algal bloom.
Revisit the change to unleaded gas which got the toxic levels of lead out of our blood. Dr. Yan also discusses the many benefits of the ban on DDT, as well as the immediate benefits of the recent Ontario ban of cosmetic pesticides and herbicides. Also be sure not to miss houses disappearing from view as the Sudbury environment improves over 40 years!
All of us should be familiar with the fact that in Muskoka, our environment is our economy; over half our GDP comes from tourism and cottaging. In this lecture, Peter Sale attempts to convince us that our environment is far more than our economy.
Every year some 5 billion cubic metres of water pass through Muskoka – that’s 3 1/2 times the entire volume of Lake Muskoka. Half is evaporated or transpired by Muskoka’s forests and plants, the other half – some 2.5 billion cubic metres flows into Georgian Bay. As climate change affects Muskoka – producing warmer and wetter winters, but dryer summers with more intense storms – we may be trying to find ways to hold on to that water, just a little longer; maybe the beaver has a solution for us.
Peter, who describes himself as a strange, but harmless ecologist, talks about some of the many creatures in Muskoka including the beaver, the expected effects for Muskoka from climate change, an idea or two on solutions, and that there are other ways of valuing our environment other than simply to value it as a storehouse of resources to dig up and take away.
Wed. August 15 th at the Port Carling Community Centre at 7:00 is the latest of the Muskoka Watershed Council’s Environmental lecture series.
Did you know that Gravenhurst Bay is 5 times cleaner now than it once was? That Muskoka has only half as many acid lakes as it once did? That lead pollution, once a common environmental and human health problem, has all but disappeared? That the concentration of pesticides in the environment fell 10 to 100 fold once the cosmetic use of pesticides was banned?
We can, and often have, solved very large and complicated environmental problems that affect our health and the condition of the watersheds we share with thousands of other species. In this Muskoka Watershed Council lecture, Dr. Norman Yan will celebrate our past environmental successes by briefly reviewing the history of several good news stories. More importantly, he will talk about what we have learned from the past and the steps we need to take to solve today’s environmental problems.
We have created global environmental problems, but we have also solved environmental problems of a global scale on more than one occasion. Come learn how we can move from creating to solving such problems.
As mentioned in previous posts, cottage owners and cottage buyers want to know about water quality on lakes in Muskoka. Because water quality has a direct relationship to property value, and algae – particularly algal blooms – directly affect water quality, we all want to know as much as we can .
I just completed and uploaded a video here for the Muskoka Watershed Council YouTube page. The subject is a talk that was presented by Dr. Andrew Paterson of the Dorset Environmental Centre at the Muskoka Stewardship Conference at Nipissing University in Muskoka (Bracebridge). The event’s theme was What Are You Watching?
This highly interesting talk looks at studying lake sediments deposited over hundreds – and even thousands of years. Sediments are archives of environmental change and within them are clues to possible triggers of algae outbreaks.
Dr. Paterson talks about sediment research done in Lake of the Woods in north-western Ontario and the Hudson Bay Lowlands which may help scientist understand occurrences in the lakes of Muskoka. There is discussion on the relationship between water quality and property value for cottagers. The seeming paradox of stable or even declining phosphorous levels – the usual algal bloom suspect- at the same time as blue-green outbreaks are increasing. And of course, the effect of climate change.
Of particular note is the 2005 toxic algal bloom in Three Mile Lake in 2005, where research may indicate the possible triggers of record high temperatures coupled with record low precipitation which occurred in the fall of 2005 in Muskoka.
There is significant evidence that a warming climate is related to the increase in algal blooms. Dr. Paterson suggests that if algae was the music that we hear from a radio: then phosphorous is the volume; other nutrients (particularly nitrogen), light, etc., influence what species are present – are the “tuning”; and climate is the antenna. The presentation concludes that blue-green algae likes it hot!
We have hosted these two events in the past on behalf of the Sparrow Lake Association. I am glad to see it continue; also to see that the fishing derby continues to be catch & release.
We urge all Sparrow Lake and Severn River residents and visitors to join the SLA and enjoy these events as well as the annual Regatta. The SLA does important work to protect your investment in, and enjoyment of, this wonderful area.
Please join us for the annual Sparrow LakeAssociation Fishing Derby and Picnic on July 6, 2013.
The fishing derby starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 11:30am–no fishing license is required as it is Free Fishing Week in Ontario. All ages are welcome to fish but only children 14 and younger are eligible to win prizes. You are required to hand in an entry form at the end of the Derby to be eligible for prizes. This is strictly a catch and release tournament and tracking of fish caught is on the honour system, as witnessed by an adult. Entry forms will be available at the Franklin Park Dock (adjacent to Silver Pines) prior to the start of the Derby or can be downloaded from our website http://www.sparrowlakeassn.com/fish.html
The Picnic starts at 12:00 Noon on the back lawn at the Silver Pines. The cost is $8 per person for: (1) the choice of a Hotdog or Hamburger; (2) a cold drink; and (3) ice cream. There will be activities for the children afterwards. Please RSVP by July 3, 2013 and let us know your preference for a Hamburger or Hotdog. You can RSVP by phone 705-684-9241 or by completing the electronic form on our website http://www.sparrowlakeassn.com/fish.html
We hope to see you all at the SLA Fishing Derby and Picnic. If you have any questions, please let me know.
In cottage real estate we get asked a lot of questions: Is it weedy?; Eeeew! What’s that stuff?; Why don’t we see crayfish anymore?; My boathouse dock’s underwater – what’s with the water levels this year?; Is my water safe for swimming?; etc. It’s really a lot of fun to answer most of the time!
But here’s a chance to have some of what you want to know, perhaps monitored over time and have it reported on every 4 years!
As many readers of this weblog know, the Muskoka Watershed Council (MWC) is a volunteer based non-profit organization with the mandate to champion watershed health in Muskoka; I am one of those volunteers.
MWC produces a Report Card every four years. The Report Card is a science-based evaluation of the health of the water, land, and wetlands in Muskoka and the municipalities that share Muskoka’s watersheds. Three Watershed Report Cards have been released to date (2004, 2007 & 2010) We are also assisting the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve with the development of a State of the Bay Report for Georgian Bay, which will be released this year.
For the next Watershed Report Card due to be released in 2014, we want to hear from you, what you want to know about the health of our watersheds.
Click on the page below to ask your questions or find out more.
The single most important thing you can do to protect the value of your Muskoka cottage waterfront property investment is to protect the water quality of your lake. One of the best ways to help sustain/improve water quality in your lake is to ensure you have a natural shoreline and a buffer zone; an area of natural vegetation running along your shoreline.
The function of the buffer zone is to act as a filter for water flowing to your lake, and studies show that they greatly reduce water pollution. The plants and soil absorb runoff water laden with sediments, nutrients and pollutants harmful to the lake. Turf grass does not do an adequate job filtering water runoff, and is very attractive to geese and other nuisance species.
Native Plants … and lots of them! “Ideally the buffer area is thickly covered with native vegetation. The higher the percentage of the ground that is covered, the better your buffer can work. A landscape made up of native plants is low maintenance. Once established, they can survive without extra watering, and without application of pesticides and fertilizers. Native plants are adapted to deal with local bugs and diseases and can get all the nutrients they need from existing soil.”
On the Living Edge Sarah Kipp, Clive Callaway
You can pre-order native plants from the Muskoka Lakes Association.
“The Annual MLA Seeding Day is scheduled for Saturday May 18, 2013 at the Port Carling Community Centre from 9 am to 12Noon. The emphasis this year will be on Muskoka native species. An order form (with pricing) is available from the MLA website here. We have a lot of seedlings available in some of the most wanted species including White Birch, Balsam Fir, White Spruce, Dogwood and Nannyberry among others.”
Order soon as quantities are limited. Orders can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to (705) 765-3203 or mailed to Box 298, Port Carling, ON, P0B 1J0