Lake Manitou Area Association education night focusses on Manitou restoration

by Julie McIntosh

SANDFIELD—The Lake Manitou Area Association (LMAA) information and education night took place on Tuesday, August 9 at the Sandfield Community Hall.

An estimated 100 attendees, mostly residents living on Lake Manitou, were present to learn about conservation and mitigation efforts to maintain the lakeshore and underwater ecosystems in the region. Guests speakers of the evening were Clare Nelligan, PhD candidate from Queen’s University, and Seija Deschenes, project coordinator of Manitoulin Streams. The discussion topic of the evening was titled ‘Secrets from the Depths of Lake Manitou.’

Research by Ms. Nelligan is based off the PEARL Lake Trout Project—a team of an estimated 30 research scientists, post-doctoral fellows and professors that reconstruct the paleoenvironments of inland Ontario waters. Ms. Nelligan’s preliminary research studies the presence of nutrients in sediment deposits to determine how climate change has affected Lake Manitou.

Ms. Nelligan’s preliminary research found Lake Manitou among several lakes in Ontario that are of significant management concern. Issues includes pressures from increased shoreline development, changes in the hypolimnetic—the dense cold bottom layer of lakes—glass sediments and the hypolimnetic being below the provincial guideline of 7 ppm (parts per million) end-of-summer means volume-weighed. The lake is also experiencing significant algal blooms.

The PEARL research team at Queen’s University will continue their field research in further assessing the acidification, eutrophication, contaminants and pollution of Lake Manitou.

Ms. Deschenes from Manitoulin Streams spoke after a short intermission. In her presentation, she proposed creating a cooperative project that would involve locals to rehabilitate the lake’s ecosystems with the educational initiatives from Manitoulin Streams. According to Manitoulin Streams research, there are an estimated 850 cottages on Lake Manitou that have an impact on the lake and rivers upstream. 

Further suggestions include creating natural shoreline buffers that goes to high water marks and reducing excessive vegetation reduction in lawn care. In cooperation with Manitoulin Streams or Fisheries and Oceans Canada, creating shoreline buffers that suit the homeowner’s habitat would diminish erosion and allow for natural self-management of the Lake Manitou lakeshore.

Further suggestions for the project include local business incentives for cooperation or homeowner self-evaluation cards on lakeshore health. Ms. Deschenes is open for public opinion or suggestions in regards to a cooperative lake management project.

The presentations were met with favourable opinions by LMAA meeting attendees. “I am not satisfied with what’s happening with the lake,” said Mike Costigan Sr., president of LMAA, “but I am satisfied with the information we’re getting.”

Laurie McCracken, whose family has lived by the lake for 80 years, was happy with the overall work of Manitoulin Streams. “The do a nice job, it is a very good association.”

The meeting was adjourned after audience Q&A and doorprize winner announcement.

The LMAA was established in 1993 and currently holds 238 members. The non-profit, volunteer-based organization oversees the environmental integrity of Lake Manitou and its surrounding rivers and water systems. The association is a member of the Federation of Ontario’s Cottager’s Association.

The Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association is a non-profit that integrates community approaches to rehabilitate aquatic ecosystems on Manitoulin Island. They have completed 34 major restoration project around Manitoulin Island’s lakes, creeks and rivers, and hold provincial and federal approval to rehabilitate water ecosystems.