Lake stewardship is the responsible development and management of lakes and lands surrounding lakes. A relatively large number of lakes in Alberta, including those in Strathcona County, are under pressure from development. Many homeowners landscape with preconceived notions of what they would like the lakefront property to look like without realizing some of these activities are harmful to the lake they are living near and want to enjoy.
The land surrounding a lake consists of riparian areas and in some cases, uplands. Healthy riparian areas, left in their natural state, protect adjacent homes from shoreline erosion, slope instability, and flooding. Riparian areas also filter water and sediment, which helps to maintain the water quality of the lake so that it’s safe to recreate in and for other uses including providing potable water to humans, cattle and other livestock.
Riparian areas provide extremely important habitat and are used by 20% of Alberta’s mammals, 80% of birds, amphibians and reptiles species, making this area of the lake an important ecologically productive zone. More than 60% of Alberta’s “at risk” bird species use riparian areas as habitat.
Although riparian areas make up only a small fraction of our landscape, they are disproportionately important to fish and wildlife, recreation, agriculture, and society in general.
- Cows and Fish (Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society)
Benefits for homeowners
Why is lake stewardship beneficial for homeowners?
- Saves time and money by leaving as much of your property in a natural state as possible.
- Protects your home and property from slope and shore erosion.
- Protects valuable habitat for wildlife so that people may enjoy activities like bird watching and fishing.
- Protects water quality of the lake for everyone’s enjoyment and use.
Tips for living by the lake
- Strategically prune trees and shrubs, located on your property, to enhance views of the lake, rather than removing them.
- Plant native species that are local to the area when adding new shrubs and trees to your landscaped yard. Native plants will help to reduce erosion and reduce runoff into the lake.
- Avoid the use of fertilizers and pesticides and any other chemicals that could potentially runoff into the lake.
- If your property is adjacent to a natural area allow the edges of your property to begin naturalizing.
- Be aware of invasive species and prohibited or noxious weeds. Manage unwanted species quickly and by mechanical means instead of chemicals where possible.
- Avoid watering to decrease runoff into the lake and protect your property from erosion and slope instability. Use drip lines where needed to allow water to soak into the ground and prevent surface runoff.
- Know where your property begins and ends. Knowing where your property is will ensure that you do not encroach onto county or crown owned lands.
- If your yard, the shoreline and riparian areas are natural, the best thing you can do is leave them undisturbed.
- Obtain the appropriate approvals before going ahead with any projects. Depending on the project you may need approval from Strathcona County, Alberta Environment and Parks, Department of Fisheries and Oceans or other Provincial and Federal ministries.
There is sometimes a misconception that reserves are “publicly” owned and adjacent landowners may feel they have right to alter these lands for their personal use or benefit. Most reserves were created during subdivision to prevent pollution of the water body and to provide public access to the bed and shore; these are separate parcels titled to Strathcona County. These reserves are meant to be left in their natural state and function as a buffer zone between development and the lake. Unauthorized developments, alterations or use of these County owned lands are a trespass and will be addressed under the
Sources: Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Federation of Alberta Naturalists.
- Alberta Conservation Association Caring for Shoreline Properties
- Alberta Environment and Parks Respect our Lakes
- Alberta Environment and Parks Lakeshores and Guidelines for Lakeshore Use
- Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society Lakes and Wetlands
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans Shore Primer
- Government of Alberta Aquatic Vegetation Removal from Alberta Lakes
- Wheatland County Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide