Lake Simcoe people have until Dec. 30 to comment on the Ontario government's draft Lake Simcoe Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
The strategy, which is a follow-up to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, aims to "revitalize and protect the Lake Simcoe Watershed for generations to come," a statement from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment says. "To help municipalities, communities and people who live, work and vacation in the area, the strategy describes actions that can be taken to increase the lake’s resilience to the impacts of climate change." Released Oct. 31, the strategy can be downloaded by going to the Government of Ontario Environmental Registry.
Here is the URL: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/
The EBR Registry Number is 011-8148; follow the links to download the document.
You can submit comments online, or send your comments by mail to Carolyn Switzer, Project Management Coordinator, Ministry of the Environment, Operations Division, Central Regional Office, 5775 Yonge St., Floor 8, Place Nouveau, Toronto ON, M2M 4J1.
The strategy was put together by the provincial government, First Nations and Metis communities, municipalities, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Lake Simcoe Science Committee.
The Lake Simcoe Science Committee had identified climate change as an important threat to the health of Lake Simcoe and its watershed.
The draft strategy anticipates climate change will mean increased incidents of heat stress on high-temperature summer days, fewer ice-fishing opportunities in winter due to a shorter period of ice cover and a longer growing season for farmers.
Climate change could also have other effects, including putting cold water fish species at risk, further degrading water quality and impacting water quantity.
"Provincial government research indicates that climate change has had a dramatic effect on the overall thermal structure of the lake between 1980 and 2008," the document says. "Seasonal temperature changes naturally occur in the lake every spring and fall; however, these changes now are occurring earlier in the spring and extending later in the fall, meaning the lake is existing in its spring/summer state or a full month longer on average today than it used to in 1980."
Suggested actions to increase Lake Simcoe's resilience to the impacts of climate change include:
• Planting a diverse mix of indigenous tree species, including those expected to be better adapted to climate change
• Reducing dependence on traditional groundwater and surface water resources through use of alternative water sources, such as rainwater and grey water
• Diversity attractions and destinations to offset the demand for and/or losses to tourism and recreational activities, such as boating, snowmobiling and ice fishing, which might be affected by climate change.
• Reduce pressure on popular sport-fish species that may be adversely affected by climate change.
The draft strategy also acknowledges positive steps are already taking place. Many farmers, for instance, are adopting innovative agricultural practices and technologies to help the lake. Twenty-seven marinas in the Lake Simcoe Watershed are following environmental practices set out in the Clean Marine Program.