Protecting our precious wetlands
The need for evaluation of wetlands on Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes was identified as early as 1990 by Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) and other government bodies with an interest in the environment. Wetlands in the southern part of the Province and on our lakes were rapidly disappearing due to development – a total of 70 percent wetland loss over the previous few decades.
This concern was shared by what was then the Ston(e)y Lake Environment Council, which was working to try to protect the lake environment. In 2005, this group sparked the beginning of the Lake Planning process, which was done on a local watershed basis, including Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes.
Cottagers, lake-residents, on-lake businesses, and local government and agency representatives were consulted and involved in this process. At public workshops, participants expressed support for protection and restoration of natural shorelines and wetlands because they play such an important role in protecting water quality in the lakes –the top priority identified by lake residents during the process.
The final Lake Plan report, issued in summer 2008, contained recommendations reflecting the commitment of the Environment Council/Lake Plan Steering Committee to assist in the study of approximately 900 hectares of wetlands on the lakes. While the report was being written, a multi-year in-water wetland program was launched in 2007. It began with an environmental scan of areas believed to have important wetland features, as previously identified in studies conducted by TSW and Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
Other government bodies also recognized the need, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), TSW, MNR and Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation offered funding and in-kind support to the Environment Council/Lake Plan Steering Committee to get the job done. Other funding was provided by charitable organizations with an interest in the environment, including the Stony Lake Heritage Foundation and the RBC Bluewater Foundation.
Provincially Significant Wetlands
Detailed field studies were carried out by professional biologists using the official MNR protocol, the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System. Field work was carried out in South Bay and Hull Bay areas in 2008, the Big and Little Duck Ponds in 2009, and in Gilchrist Bay in 2010. Data from these wetland studies were reviewed and evaluated by MNR, and all of these areas have been designated Provincially Significant Wetlands.
This designation results from the many special features of these wetlands and the exceptional abundance and diversity of vegetative and animal species – including muskie and a number of at risk species – that they and the land immediately around them support.
In April 2012, following evaluation of the data from Gilchrist Bay, MNR combined the Duck Ponds, the former Clarina Wetland and Gilchrist Bay into what is now known as the Whetung Road Wetland Complex. This complex also includes the north end of White Lake. To see maps of these designated areas, click on Presentation in this section.
As is its usual practice, MNR provided updated mapping and information on this complex to the affected municipalities and other government agencies such as Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, for incorporation into their planning and regulations.
During the summer of 2011, biologists studied Hamilton Bay, an area west of Mount Julian, a large area known as the Fairy Lake Island Complex, and Clear Lake. MNR has reviewed these data and confirmed Locally Significant Wetlands in these areas.
All evaluated wetlands are reflected in municipal Official Plans as Areas of Environmental Protection that require careful review in the planning process.
Designation affects planning and development
Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) are protected natural heritage features within the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act, and under the County of Peterborough Official Plan. The Conservation Authorities Act also provides protection of wetlands and adjacent land. The Townships around Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes are required to have regard for the protections provided under the PPS and to reflect them in their Official Plans.
The PPS states that any development within 120 metres of a Provincially Significant Wetland requires an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to approval.
If you are thinking of carrying out work on your property that requires planning approval, such as re-zoning, severing the land, or variance to zoning setback, contact the County and/or your local Township planning department for further information about the process that must be followed. If you are planning work that requires a building permit and/or Otonabee Region Conservation Authority (ORCA) permit, such as constructing a building or addition, grading or filling, contact ORCA and your township building department to find out about permitting and approval requirements. If a landowner on the Trent-Severn Waterway wishes to undertake any shoreline or in-water work, written approval is required from the Trent-Severn Waterway/Parks Canada before any work begins. For further information and permit application forms, please go to TSW Permits.
If your plans include an expanded septic tank or bed, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit will also need to consider whether it could affect a PSW.
To learn more about the importance of wetlands and how significant wetlands are evaluated, click on Biodiversity .
You can help protect wetlands
Owners of larger properties can make a significant contribution to the protection of wetlands and other natural shoreline areas through the Kawartha Heritage Conservancy (KHC), a partner organization of Environment Council. Long-term options include a conservation agreement, a land donation and various tax incentives arranged with the KHC.
Working with landowners, the KHC has already protected a number of threatened wetland and shoreline areas on Stoney Lake that provide habitat for fish and wildlife and preserve the water quality and natural beauty of the lake. Among the protected areas are 139 acres around the Big Duck Pond, placed in a conservation easement by Heather Elliott in 2009, and 73 acres of wetland, stream and forest next to Viamede Resort, donated to KHC by the Ingleton and Wells families in 2011.
If you’d like to learn more about conservation and land trust options, tax benefits and stewardship incentives with KHC, visit www.kawarthaheritage.org/landowners.asp .
Residents and visitors can help preserve our wetlands by treading lightly and leaving them in their natural state. Observe terrestrial wetlands from a trail, dock or viewing platform rather than entering them on foot. Paddle gently and quietly through aquatic wetlands. Avoid destruction of natural vegetation. Don’t dredge, or dump sand or fill in or near the water. Never add plants, fish, bait or exotic pets to wetlands. Keep your pets on a leash around wetlands so they don’t disturb wildlife or leave waste.