Kudos to Huron-Kinloss
for protecting the bluff
Letter to the Editor
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Protection of bluffs and other highly-erosive environments is a very important issue which I give kudos to Huron-Kinloss Township for addressing.
Reducing primarily agricultural (in this township) runoff as well as urban negative influences should be a major concern for all landowners and businesses along the Lake Huron shore and elsewhere. Doing so assists in the maintenance of the water quality in Lake Huron and the quality of life we all too frequently take for granted living where we do.
As a waterfront owner, I frequently see the effects of high runoff rates entering the lake be it in the form of suspended sediments from the Pine Rive or Penetangore River, or in measured algal bloom studies, as well as phosphate and nitrate level analysis or in other organic or inorganic contaminant studies, which frequently cause beach closures throughout the summer.
Recent rains this week have clearly demonstrated this point as suspended sediment levels in the near-shore areas of the lake are higher, thus reducing water clarity and, likely, quality.
Bluff management as well as watershed management need a far better set of regulations and enforcement to ensure sustainable environmental protection. Superb resources available from the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation provide clear, concise justifications for maintaining bluffs along the lakes and strategies for doing so. To find some of these resources, click here
I question, though, if the township will be able to keep up with this demand as development continues in the region. I also question the role of the township in designing and enforcing such bylaws in areas which typically lie under the guise of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment and/or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
A couple of simple solutions should be imposed if the township is truly concerned about bluff management (water quality), and able to act accordingly. Firstly, for all bluff areas determined by elevational changes in relation to Lake Huron, there should be a complete ban on vegetation cutting, be it trees or other. Sacrificing the view of a few people is better than negatively affecting the health of all.
Secondly, for all areas (to be determined) within a certain proximity to watercourses draining directly or indirectly into Lake Huron, impose a permit requirement as is being discussed. As opposed to simply requesting payment for such a permit, though, require a re-planting schedule.
For example, for every tree cut in a 100-metre distance from a watercourse, four trees must be replanted, at the expense of the landowner. I selected a 100-metre boundary as this is consistent with cultural resource management practices and would also help to protect these regions.
I would also like to see a complete ban on building within these boundaries as well as a ban on highly invasive agricultural practices currently employed. There should be no disturbance of natural buffer/filtration areas within a preset distance of all watercourses.
By taking this action, landowners already practising healthy forest management as described in the article will simply continue to do so. However, those who are not, will be forced to start; a gentle persuasion to help everyone in the long run lead more healthy lives.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011