Coastal Action Plan outlines conservation strategies for our communities



By Chris Bianco

An eco-conscious audience packed the conference room in the Kincardine Marriot hotel on Thursday evening.


They were eager to hear from a series of conservation oriented presentations arranged by the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation and to share their own questions and observations. The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring Lake Huron’s coastal environment, held the presentation to spread awareness for their Coastal Action Plan – an umbrella plan which unifies efforts to identify and eradicate threats to the Lake Huron shoreline between Tobermory and Sarnia.


After having some snacks and refreshments, and browsing some informative kiosks, guests sat down to listen to three presentations. First to present was Mike Warkentin from the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association. Warkentin was advocating for the preservation of dark skies across Ontario and abroad. According to Warkentin, much of southern Ontario is losing its dark sky to light pollution. This can disrupt natural cycles in plants, animals and humans, and takes away the simple pleasure of viewing the stars on a clear night.


Warkentin points out that the tendency to illuminate our towns with LED streetlights and residential lighting is particularly harmful due to the glaring white light emitted by LEDs. To mitigate this issue, he suggests we buy light bulbs that are rated for a colour temperature of 3000K or less, and to make sure our lighting fixtures are pointed towards the ground, rather than the sky.


The next speaker, Emily Martin of the Pine River Watershed Initiative Network, spoke on the loss of our native ash trees along the coastal section of the Pine River watershed. With the establishment of the emerald ash borer in Ontario, we are seeing an accelerated loss of our native ash populations. To mitigate the effects of this loss, the Pine River Watershed Initiative Network has implemented an ash replacement program which will supply a free potted tree to landowners who have lost one of their ash trees to an emerald ash borer infestation.


The program offers four native replacement species: red maple, white oak, hybrid poplar and bur oak. Martin says that landowners can identify if their ash trees are infested with emerald ash borers if the trees begin to develop thin crowns, vertically cracked bark or if small D-shaped holes are found on the trunk.


Last to present was Tineasha Brenot from the Coastal Centre. Her topic dealt with invasive species in our coastal environments, particularly the phragmites, which she deems “Canada’s worst invasive plant.” Anyone who has spent a lot of time around the lakefront is likely familiar with this tall, reed-like species. A fast grower with no natural control species, this plant thrives in distressed and disturbed environments, allowing it to rapidly take over our coast. The presence of the plant leads to supressed natural vegetation, reduced habitat for native species, loss of tourism due to our stunning lake views being blocked, and decreased property value.


Luckily, Brenot has been working with a team to eliminate populations in specific areas, and wishes to expand the effort to control the species. As the invasive plant becomes more and more widespread, efforts will need to be undertaken to eradicate it from our coastal environments.


If you wish to learn more about the Coastal Action Plan, or the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, visit their website at