By Kristian Rasmussen
The shores of Kinsmen Beach are about to receive some much-needed attention after years of beatings by wind, waves and eager swimmers.
The District of Invermere and the Lake Windermere Ambassadors are planning a soft restoration for the bruised shoreline, set to begin after Earth Day, April 22nd.
The work will include the addition of rocks, logs and native plant species to protect the parts of the shoreline that are crumbling.
“The soft impact is like using a boulder, something with different edges, so that the waves refract off in different directions and have less channelized impact,” said Program Coordinator of the Lake Windermere Ambassadors Kirsten Harma. “We also want to integrate plants into that as well.”
The $30,000 restoration project at Kinsmen will be a joint project between the Windermere Ambassadors, District of Invermere, and both biologists and landscape designers. The plan will be to incorporate native plant species, logs and boulders in a way that supports both aquatic and land habitat.
The erosion of the shoreline is a natural process, but human involvement has played a role in speeding up nature.
“Kinsmen faces the south a little bit, where the predominant wind direction is, and of course there is boat wake, which would be in excess of any waves you would get naturally, even on a windy day,” said Ms. Harma.
“Kinsmen also has the problem of people accessing the beach. Every time a kid’s little foot hits that bank they are taking some sand with them. The native vegetation has been turned into a lawn, so there are no roots holding the soil together. When you don’t have that native vegetation layer the soil erodes much faster.”
The real impact of an eroding shoreline can only be witnessed from the air or under the waves, she explained.
“This is a big bird migration corridor. The more vegetation birds have to land on allows them to feed, nest, and hide. When you don’t have the vegetation, you lost the habitat. Erosion also creates a lot of silt and fine sediment that is getting in between the rocks. The fish then don’t have any place to put their eggs, and the oxygen can’t get in.”
Although the project is designed to bring results to both bird and fish habitat, the Windermere Ambassador cautions the public to not jump the gun on the project.
“You really have to wait five years for the plants to grow,” Ms. Harma added.
The project is also going to require a firm level of involvement from the community, not only to keep off the sensitive area, but also to lend a hand with things like plant watering.
“The District of Invermere is going to install some irrigation systems to drip feed the plants for a while,” Ms. Harma said. “We will need some people to come out with a bucket on a Saturday afternoon and water a plant every once in a while.”
Community involvement is always key to maintaining a natural environment, she added.
“So many people comment that this is such a spectacular place. There is so much existing natural value. The more people who start to respect the fact that there is this natural value here, that we have something that nobody else in the world has, and appreciate that, then we can protect what we have a little better.”