The Shorelines and Structures Initiative will provide incentives for projects that restore natural shorelines or that remove or replace styrofoam dock floats that are harmful to the health of Lake Windermere. We encourage anyone living in a lakeside community that still has styrofoam dock floats (or anyone else concerned about the health of the lake) to donate to our fund, so that together we can get the plastic out of the lake!
Origins of the Initiative
In 2021 we were moved by two things to create our Shorelines and Structures Initiative. The first was the publication of the 2020 Foreshore Integrated Management Planning, and the second was a letter from the Friesen sisters.
Foreshore Integrated Management Planning
The 2020 Foreshore Integrated Management Planning study looked at the state of the Lake Windermere foreshore, and how it comapared to 2006. This study confirmed what we had long suspected, that Lake Windermere was losing its natural shoreline and ability to protect Lake Windermere. In 2020 the foreshore was 57% disturbed, a 1% increase from 2006. While 1% may not seem significant, the authors Schleppe and McPherson explained how this could be death by 1,000 cuts, and that with the “continued losses adding up over time, there is a potential to result in landscape-level changes to the surrounding ecosystem”. The main losses seen between 2006 and 2020 come from renovations and rebuilds on already existing property that remove the natural shoreline without any restoration efforts.
The Friesen Sisters
In early July 2021, sisters Sophia and Bella Friesen reached out to us, and a number of other lake users and advocates, to share a recent discovery they had made. While out on their paddleboard one afternoon the sisters decided to make the most of the time and collect some waste accumulating in the lake. They weren’t prepared for the discovery they were about to make. As they collected and quickly filled their garbage bag with blue styrofoam they became increasingly curious on the source of this pollution. After returning home and conducting some research they discovered this styrofoam was commonly used in docks and intentionally put in the lake each year. Their reading revealed that this petroleum-based lightweight plastic was not only harmful to aquatic life but also human health. You may have seen this pollutant in the lake, and even become curious yourself, but did you know that this material inevitably degrades when exposed to sunlight and water? Or that the breakdown becomes unstoppable, and accumulates in fish and bird species that rely on Lake Windermere and the globally important downstream Columbia Wetlands?
The Stewardship Solution
Armed with this new found depressing information the Lake Windermere Ambassadors felt we could not stand by and do nothing. As such, we have developed an incentive program to connect those with the harmful docks or unnatural shorelines with some resources to rebuild in a way that is better for everyone who relies on and enjoys Lake Windermere. We are offering a rebate of 50% up to $500 for any individual who takes action to improve their shoreline or water based infrastructures. There are two ways that you can get involved in this program: