In Algoma, we are very fortunate to be in the middle of three of the Great Lakes; with Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan all within driving distance, it also means there are a lot of waterways and streams that flow to those lakes.
Algoma has a large percentage of livestock producers and most of those producers pasture their animals on land near those waterways and streams. Most areas are fenced off but in some cases those livestock have access to those areas. There are some advantages to allowing access to these streams e.g. not transporting water to the animals, and it gives the animals a chance to cool off in the summer.
However, the disadvantages to allowing access to those waterways outweigh the advantages. When an animal is in that stream cooling off or drinking, they are also polluting it. When an animal defecates while in the stream, remnants of that will end up further down the stream, potentially in the Great Lakes. When the whole herd is in the stream, the chances of the pollution ending up in the Great Lakes greatly increases.
Another disadvantage is when an animal is climbing in and out of the streams, the banks will inevitably fast-forward erosion. These streams and waterways all contain important ecosystems, including fish, bacteria, plants, e.g. when an animal gets in and disturbs the environment, the whole system suffers.
The Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) is looking for areas that can be fenced off from livestock, as well as areas that can benefit from shrubs or trees being planted in way to prevent and/or help mitigate erosion. These areas would be part of the Lake Huron watershed, which include any streams, lakes, and rivers. We are planning to submit a proposal to the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund to engage young people in restoration efforts and assist with the cost of fencing and watering systems for riparian restoration. If you are interested please contact us by November 3rd.
Mikala Parr, Research Technician