The Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT) has, for over 30 years, worked in the southern interior of British Columbia to protect and preserve habitat for all living things. Natural lake shorelines, with their ribbon of native plants benefit wildlife and animal movement; protect properties from flood and erosion; and support ecological processes essential to clean, drinkable, swimmable, fishable water. Purchasing lakeshore for conservation is prohibitively expensive, so SILT is exploring other ways to spark widespread voluntary care of lakeshores to benefit all living things, including people.
SILT has partnered with Watersheds Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation to pilot the highly successful Love Your Lake (LYL) program for the first time in British Columbia, at Vaseux Lake and along the shore of Okanagan Lake in the District of Summerland. The LYL project will provide lakeshore landowners with a free, personalized and private evaluation of their shoreline, with specific actions for how to voluntarily protect and re-vitalize the shoreline to improve lake health while still maintaining their waterfront view.
Shoreline property owners will receive information about the program including an introductory letter and a values survey. Shorelines will be assessed by boat on a property-by-property basis by trained people using a standardized protocol and datasheet. Following the assessments, each shoreline property owner will receive another letter, typically in the spring, with a personal online access code needed to download their free report. The report will contain information about the state of their unique shoreline and suggestions of voluntary actions they can take, specifically tailored to their shoreline, to improve the health of their shoreline. Lake organizations and project partners will receive a lake summary report which generalizes the data over the entire assessed area and identifies community stewardship opportunities applicable to the entire lake shoreline.
All information contained in the individual shoreline property reports and lake summary reports is non-regulatory. All organizations involved in the LYL program take privacy issues very seriously.
This year, SILT will also be supporting the creation of up to three public shoreline restoration demonstration sites in various areas where landowners and others can see how lakeshore restoration works. SILT and the LYL program hope that both aspects of the project will continue in future years on other lakes. Funding and in-kind support for the LYL project has been provided by the South Okanagan Conservation Fund, the LYL Program, SILT, local government and other contributors.
Here is the link to the Love Your Lake program: www.LoveYourLake.ca