Fighting to preserve Lake Erie’s disappearing shoreline

In Ontario, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) pilot project targets shoreline erosion

For Ontario residents living along the north coast of Lake Erie, the issue of shoreline erosion hits close to home.

Sometimes, a little too close.

“The shoreline is creeping ever closer, and in the past there have been instances where buildings have fallen into the lake,” notes Greg Van Every, Environmental Project Coordinator with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA).

The LTVCA is currently working on a pilot project to curb erosion along the North Erie coastline of southwestern Ontario, from Ridgetown to St. Thomas within the Lower Thames Valley watershed.

This LTVCA stewardship program involves:

  • ·outreach to landowners and municipalities
  • an aggressive program of planting native grass species
  • wetland restoration, and
  • promotion of biodiversity.

In addition to the immediate risk of putting homes and livelihoods at stake, Van Every says the LTVCA’s erosion prevention work will also help to preserve wildlife habitats currently affected by disappearing shores.

“We know that the shoreline is a main highway for many, many migratory birds and other mammals,” says Van Every. “And for this pilot project, we’ve taken more of a community approach, teaching people about the high-water levels in Lake Erie and the critical importance of erosion control along the shoreline.”

Enbridge is committed to sustainability—helping to meet North America’s growing energy needs in ways that are environmentally, socially and economically responsible.

As part of our commitment, we previously contributed $75,000 toward a multi-year LTVCA project to develop a new wetlands along the Point Pelee bird migration corridor. We’ve also donated an initial $10,000 to the LTVCA to support this critically important, multi-year erosion prevention project.

The LTVCA is working with municipalities and community groups to educate the public on this pressing issue, in the hopes of further inspiring residents to get behind the initiative and raise awareness.

The LTVCA is also responsible for the tactical work being done on the ground. COVID-19 pandemic permitting, the LTVCA’s plan involves engaging with Indigenous groups, local schools, and post-secondary students and staff to join plug planting events at locations along the shore that are deemed most “at risk” by surrounding municipalities.

“We’re attempting to plant some of these species over the summer and into the fall,” Van Every says. “It’s a pilot project to gauge effectiveness—to teach people how they can help prevent erosion, and take matters into their own hands.”

(TOP PHOTO: Plug planting tools are used by the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to plant native grasses along the shore of Lake Erie to stop shoreline erosion.)