The Natural Edge Program - Watersheds Canada

Part of having a healthy shoreline includes maintaining a good buffer between a waterfront property and the water. A buffer is a permanent portion of the shoreline that can include a wide variety of native shrubs, grasses, and trees – these can be aesthetically pleasing, raising property value and even attracting more butterflies and birds. Native vegetation is important, as they tend to handle climates that are more robust. Additionally, native species are usually more appealing to local wildlife. Vegetation will also reduce erosion by securing the soil with a strong root system, and can uptake nutrients from water runoff. Other factors that make a healthy shoreline include maintaining an existing portion of your shoreline in its natural state - wildlife habitat features like fallen logs, dead standing trees, and overhanging trees are all great for maintaining ecosystem health.

Example of a healthy shoreline buffer strip with native shrubs and wildflower species (Photo courtesy of Watersheds Canada)

Following the Love Your Lake assessment of the shoreline properties on Muskrat Lake, Watersheds Canada implemented The Natural Edge program on 5 shoreline properties in November 2017 with the help from Algonquin College students in the Environmental Technician program. The Natural Edge is a program aimed to naturalize shorelines using native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. The use of native plants ensures that natural ecosystems are enhanced and shorelines are stabilized using the species that are best suited to tolerate the local environmental conditions. This program provides landowners with a personalized planting plan with photos of proposed planting areas and plant species, the ordering, delivering and planting of plants, as well as a follow-up visit to assess the success of the new plants and the replacement of plants, if necessary.

Example of a vegetated buffer strip along the access to a dock. Increasing the amount of vegetation along your shoreline with native shrubs, grasses and wildflower species can stabilize your shoreline, filter runoff water and provide habitat for local wildlife (Photo courtesy of Watersheds Canada)

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