The latest report from the FMZ 15 Fish Committee is now available. Visit our Fish & Fishing page to view it.
The Lake Health Report and EcoEthic Septic Treatment are available now.
Both Northern Expressions in Haliburton and Organic Times in Minden
are open for curbside pickup of these two items.
Organic Times: 705-286-1424
Please Support Local Retailers and Healthy Lakes
The Lake Stewards Training Session for 2020 has been postponed for a year due to COVID-19. This session was to provide C.H.A. member association Lake Stewards with hands on training on:
- Testing for Dissolved Oxygen in lake water
- Benthic Testing
- Invasive species testing & more
We hope to hold this session in Spring 2021.
Canoe FM has produced a great 14 minute podcast on this topic.
Look for "Short Takes – The Science and Politics of Shoreline Preservation".
More info will also soon be available on our website.
NEW – Expert Recommendations on Shoreline Vegetation
Shoreline Plant Search Tool
Use this tool to find out what shoreline vegetation is best for your shoreline, based on soil type, sunlight, moisture, location and other options. Click here.
We all care about the health of our lakes but who is looking after lake health? Governments of all stripes are cutting back on the people and programs that used to protect our lakes and give us up to date data on lake health indicators. Lake associations can help fill this void but only if all of us step up individually and become Lake Protectors.
What can we do to make a difference? The C.H.A. has some of the most knowledgeable lake health scientists in Canada as scientific advisors and we asked them that the question.
Based on their advice here are the most powerful steps you can take to protect your lake:
- Keep your septic system healthy; septics are the # 1 contributor of phosphorous to our lakes in Haliburton County. The more phosphorous the greater the chance of an algae blooms.
- take 20 minutes and watch “Poop Talk“ and then take action by:
- Keeping anything that can kill bacteria out of your septic system
- Minimize and spread out the use of water
- Have your system inspected by an inspector who will take the lid off and do a proper physical inspection
- Have your tank pumped every 3-5 years
- Renaturalize your shoreline – natural shorelines deliver incredible benefits
- Filtering out pollutants such as phosphorous before it gets into the lake
- Providing habitat for all sorts of life that supports healthy loons, frogs, fish etc. Remember 80-90% of all life in your lake depends on natural shorelines
- Learn about the importance of Natural Shorelines by watching the Ribbon of Life video
Keep in mind even a small area with native plants will help. If you have grass to the lake – simply stop cutting all or part of it and nature will re naturalize the area over time.
- Vote for people who care about and will act to protect our lakes - Municipally, Provincially and Federally. The last few years have seen major cutbacks at organizations that are responsible for lake health such as The MNR, Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and many more. The C.H.A. has the opportunity to work with many of these organizations and know that the people left are passionate about their jobs and work very hard. They need our support. Let the politicians know that the health of your lake is very important to you.
- Support your lake association – the volunteers who hold positions with our local lake associations are fabulous people who give up much of their personal time to be Lake Protectors. They need your support.
- Volunteer for as little as 1-2 hours a year and help out.
- Stop them on the street or at your AGM and say "thank you!" Trust me. It will mean a lot.
If each of us becomes a Lake Protector our children will be able to enjoy some of our favourite things
- The call of the loon
- Frogs by the shore
- Swimming in a clear, clean lake
Author Paul MacInnes, Chair of the C.H.A., is a passionate Lake Protector
We all love grass. It looks nice, is great under foot, super to play on and most of us have fond memories of doing some of our favourite things on grass.
So why do the lake health experts tell us not to use it around lakes in the Highlands. Are they just spoil sports or do they have valid reasons for their concerns with grass in lake country? Here’s the scoop….
Commonly used grass varieties are not native in lake country.
Non Native plants:
- Are not well suited to life in the Highlands and therefore need more inputs than native plants
- Water – something the experts say we may soon be short of
- Fertilizer- polluting our water- and costing us money
- Cutting and trimming – adding to Global warming
These extra inputs add nutrients to our lakes increasing algae and weed growth thereby decreasing the oxygen that fish need. We are told that no point in the Highlands is more than 500 metres from water….. how far from the lake is your septic system?
- Do not provide any habitat for the species that we all love such as frogs, toads, butterflies, humming birds etc.
Perhaps the biggest downside with grass is that grass does not contribute to and in fact harms the health of our precious lakes. Why is that – well there are all those reasons above but the biggest one is that grass does not do a good job of intercepting and absorbing nutrients before they get to our lakes. Nutrients such as Phosphorus come from:
- Our bodies, through our septic systems, where they leach into the soil and head down to water – our aquifers, streams, rivers and lakes
- Our Pets, Fertilizer use, Wildlife such as geese, birds etc.
This pictures shows why native plants absorb far more nutrients than non-native species such as grass:
While grass roots extend mere inches into the soil, the roots of native species extend many feet into the soil, searching for and absorbing nutrients such as phosphorous before they can damage our lakes. These long roots also do a better job of preventing erosion.
So why not take an area of your grass and plant it with native plants to help protect our lakes! You can start with a small area and then add more area over the years. Every little bit will help your lake where you, your kids and grandchildren can make new memories!
Author Paul MacInnes is Chair of the C.H.A. and a Member of the Haliburton Highlands Stewardship Council.
We often put out mouse bait or traps and antifreeze in our toilets and drains prior to closing up the cottage. Some of the newer generations of bait are very poisonous to our pets. For some dogs and cats, after a long car-ride up north, a drink from the toilet is the first on the list of things to do. Antifreeze is sweet tasting and can cause kidney failure in a dog or cat within hours.
Take a walk-through the cottage and garages to clear out any potential toxins or hazards for your pet before letting them come and do their own inspection.
Skunks and Porcupines
These creatures enjoying the warmer weather and longer daylight are most often found in the bushes early in the morning and later at night. Dogs for some reason can’t resist these potentially dangerous critters. A summer of skunk smell or a face-full of porcupine quills can ruin anyone’s vacation plans!
Keep dogs on a leash at dusk and dawn. For porcupine quills, it is best to have these pulled by a vet under sedation so that a thorough examination can be performed, including the top of the mouth and back of the throat. Get quills professionally pulled as soon as possible!
One of the things we love about cottage country is all the wildlife right in our backyard!
However, there can be issues when our dogs and wildlife come in contact. Sometimes the wildlife can carry diseases such as Distemper, Rabies and Leptospirsosis. Even indoor cats can be at risk if a bat flies into the house.
Ensure your pets are properly vaccinated for the added risk factors of living in the country.
In the county we are more likely to be hiking through brush and long grass, which is exactly the type of environment these eight-legged spider-like monsters like to live in. Once they bite, they can transmit diseases to both you and your pets, most notably Lyme disease. Good to note, disease transmission for most things takes greater than 12 hours.
There are products, namely K9 Advantix from Bayer, that are excellent products for killing ticks. Good tick prevention is important. As well, it is a
very good practice to thoroughly examine your pets daily and remove any ticks immediately since the chances are
good they haven’t yet transmitted disease. It’s also a good practice to check yourself.
Blue Green Algae
If the water appears to have a gray or green tinge or has sludge on it, there is a chance this could be Blue Green Algae. This type of algae can produce a deadly toxin with very low survival rates.
Better safe than sorry - If there is any concern, do not let your pet drink or swim in this water. Report blue green algae outbreaks by calling 416-325-3000 or 1-800-268-6060 & let your lake association know so that they can let everyone on the lake know not to swim in or use the lake water.
Every year our man’s best friend gets stuck hooked on these rather than the scaly amphibians we are aiming for. The smell of fish is very attractive to the dogs and before you know it there’s a hook sticking through the mouth.
Place all rods and hooks well out of reach from the inquiring tongues of dogs. If your dog does get hooked, call the vet immediately and get it dealt with.
Be prepared that most dogs will need to be sedated to remove the hook safely.
View this article as a pdf.
Author - Dr. Jenn Morrow is the new Owner of the Minden Animal Hospital, Day Camp and Pet Resort
Canada Geese over-concentrations are a common problem on Haliburton shorelines these days. This article is about foiling these potential foulers!
For a variety of reasons, Canada Geese love lawns or areas where the vegetation is cut low on shorelines. They are a tundra species that feels at home in open areas with unobstructed sight lines for safety reasons. They like to take their young up onto lawn-like open areas to forage where it is easier to see any approaching predators such as foxes or coyotes. They also love to eat the high carbohydrate shorter grasses offered up by lawns or lawn-like environments created by humans bringing suburbia to cottage country. This food then turns into up to pound of feces a day fouling properties and adding E-Coli to the lake.
The key to discouraging Canada Geese from congregating on shoreline open spaces is to make sure that they see a wall of plant material at least 24" high when they look at a shoreline from the water and not large expanses of inviting manicured lawns,
Leora Berman, from "The Land Between" organization, has just completed a shoreline Canada Geese control project at Head Lake Park in the Town of Haliburton. Large numbers of geese had caused the public beach area to be closed due to E-Coli contamination for many years.
Berman studied how the geese were using the area surrounding the park for two years before designing her control strategy. The geese used one area for nesting in the early spring, a second for feeding the young before they learn to fly and a third, the main park area, for foraging during the lead up to the annual southern migration.
Lines of "flashing tape" were used to discourage Geese from using the nesting area while rows of vegetation, planted perpendicular to the shoreline every 20 meters, were employed to giving adult geese a sight line camouflaging the lawn-like fledgling feeding zone.
The result has been a ninety percent drop in the geese population in Head Lake Park, dramatically reduced fouling of park open spaces, and a beach that's once again open for swimming.
Canada Geese are an iconic national symbol for most Canadians. Unwittingly, humans have created open spaces that extend a virtual invitation to these majestic birds to congregate in non-traditional areas creating all sorts of conflicts in the process. Many now consider the geese as pests but the problem has been caused by us, not them.
Having created the problem it is now up to us to understand the impact of what we have done and to find ways to eliminate or minimize the root causes of problem geese populations.
So help your lake and yourself by planting native plants that grow to 24” or higher on your shoreline and Foil Those Fouling Geese.
Author Terry Moore is Research Director for the C.H.A. and a Lake Steward on Halls/Hawk Lakes