What is lake stewardship? You’ve likely noticed this term used a lot throughout the Blue Lakes project, and we want you to understand just why we keep talking about it. As lakefront homeowners, you all have a special relationship with your lake and the natural surroundings. We have a duty to maintain these beautiful resources for future generations and there’s no question that our lakes are threatened through development, nutrient loading, climate change, and more. That’s where lake stewardship comes in, as it addresses all these concerns. Lake stewardship is about collectively, as a community, taking care of our lakes to keep them healthy for future generations. Lake stewardship is more effective with greater participation - as more people take the initiative of caring for our lakes, they will become exponentially healthier.
We’ve all heard about the threats facing our freshwater lakes, or perhaps even noticed changes in our backyards. There is no denying that our lakes need help, and time is of the essence. Over the recent decades, threats such as invasive species, nutrient loading, development, cyanobacteria, and erosion have been looming over our lakes. This makes it clear that lake stewardship is needed now more than ever before. We need to protect our native species that are struggling; for example, our Lake Trout that cannot survive in warming water temperatures, our species at risk including all eight turtle species in Ontario, and our native plants that are being replaced with non-native, potentially invasive species. Lake stewardship is important to help mitigate these threats so future generations can enjoy and cherish the freshwater lakes as we do today .
There are many groups in your community that are, or can be, involved in lake stewardship. As mentioned previously, participation amongst the community is key to stewardship because this is a task that cannot be accomplished alone. Therefore, property owners play a key role in lake stewardship. Their close proximity to lakes gives them great power to have immense influence on lake health, both through positive or negative choices. Sustainable living practices play a key role in the protection, enhancement and rehabilitation of the lake environment . The performance areas in the Blue Lakes project outline sustainable living practices that would have a positive impact on lake health, if incorporated into homeowners daily lives. Community associations such as Lake Associations, lake stewards, and Blue Lakes committees are also critical to lake stewardship. These groups and individuals increase community awareness for lake issues, and motivate others to become involved in lake stewardship initiatives. Lastly, governments are involved in lake stewardship as they hold power to create by-laws and regulations that benefit lake health. Ideally, these groups can collaborate and discuss solutions to sustain our lakes.
Just by reading these pages, you are taking the first step towards your lake stewardship journey. You can get involved in lake stewardship by learning the basics of lake health. These resources can be accessed through the Blue Lakes website. We also recommend learning about shoreland health and sustainable lifestyles to enhance your surrounding environment. And most of all, learn from your lake! Perhaps you will notice native species you’ve never seen before or begin to appreciate everyday things like swimming in a clear, clean lake.
If you are passionate about starting your lake stewardship journey, join the Blue Lakes project!
Works Cited Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association. FOCA and Lake Stewardship - Overview. Retrieved from https://foca.on.ca/lake-stewardship/#:~:text=Stewardship%20%E2%80%93%20Who%27s%20Involved,rehabilitation%20of%20the%20lake%20environment.  Strathcona County. (2020 May 6) Lake Stewardship - Why is Lake Stewardship Important? Retrieved from https://www.strathcona.ca/agriculture-environment/environment-and-conservation/environmental-initiatives/lake/#:~:text=Why%20is%20lake%20stewardship%20beneficial,like%20bird%20watching%20and%20fishing.