The ribbon of land between the lake and cottage has undergone monumental changes since lake development began. Many cottage owners removed the natural vegetation at the shoreline in an attempt to urbanize the area. We now understand that this has disturbed the natural environment for wildlife as well as reducing the water quality of the lakes with serious repercussions for human health.
Shoreline protection and an understanding of how it affects waterways is critical for a variety of wildlife species including spawning fish, turtles and nesting waterfowl as well as terrestrial song birds and small mammals. A dense strip of native vegetation is an important buffer filtering snow and water runoff and preventing soil erosion and providing a continuous wildlife corridor.
Experts agree that preserving and restoring cottage shorelines with native vegetation is the best solution for water quality and long-term shoreline stability. This would be the way nature kept shorelines stable and our lakes and streams clean long before the impacts of human development. Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They are the ecological basis upon which life depends, including mammals, birds and people. Without them and the insects that co-evolved with them, local birds cannot survive. Native wildlife of all kinds is reduced when the land along the shoreline is paved, turfed, ornamented and exposed. Clear-cutting vegetation, creating steep slopes or mowing to the water’s edge come with consequences.
Sourcing native plants is a lot easier than it used to be. A list of native plant nurseries and resources is provided at the end of the document. The use of fertilizers encourages weeds to the detriment of native plants. Pesticides are detrimental to all living things including humans, aquatic and terrestrial life.
We have created a document that attempts to bring together in one place a description of many common native species that will grow in the Highlands (Zone4), including those that are likely to be available from area nurseries. This revised document also includes the native insects and wildlife that are attracted to native flora as well as some edible and medicinal information about the plants.
This document can be used to help property owners identify the native plants that are already growing on their land so they can ‘preserve’ them and secondly to help property owners choose which natives to purchase and plant in order to ‘restore’ their property.
Download PDF Version Here