Here are some quick facts on shoreline hardening from the Great Lakes Environmental Assessments and Mapping Project. If you want more in-depth info, please visit their website GLEAM.
The shoreline hardening stressor considers the shoreline structures built parallel to shore, such as seawalls. These structures are constructed to protect and maintain human investments along the coast, but they can have a number of adverse impacts on nearshore ecosystems. In particular, artificial shoreline protective structures can:
- destroy local vegetation, often replacing it with impervious surface and impacting storm water flow
- cause local increases in water turbidity
- alter nearshore sediment dynamics and accelerate lake bed erosion
- facilitate the establishment of nuisance species like zebra and quagga mussels
There is extensive knowledge and research available online about the negative impacts of shoreline hardening. Lake St. Clair in southern Ontario is another lake in complete ruin with almost all of the U.S. shore hardened with armour rocks.
From their website Great Lakes Tributary Modelling Program, here are some quick facts on the environmental damage and biological processes linked to shoreline hardening:
- burial or removal of habitat for bottom dwelling species due to shifts in beach material
- alterations in or complete loss of vegetative cover resulting in temperature fluctuations in shallow water
- loss of spawning, foraging and nursery habitat for fish due to alteration in the substrate
- loss of migratory corridor for fish caused by shifts in water elevation from existence of armoring
- decreased organic inputs due to loss of vegetation adjacent to the shoreline
- interruption of beach access to foraging wildlife
This image below is from along the shore of Lake Ontario near the Guildwood area and it demonstrates the complete destruction of the natural shoreline. It is hardened with armour rocks. This shoreline at one time was most likely a sandy beach with a diverse habitat of plant and wildlife though unfortunately all of that has now been lost forever.
|Photo credit: Jane Fairburn|
This shoreline hardening was done by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, an organization that is operated by the city, and for the public.
Why is this happening to our shorelines?
Unfortunately there seems to be a global epidemic of this destructive and irreversible practice. I think it's time that it stops. The Scarborough Bluffs is an area in the east of Toronto with approximately 5 km of natural shoreline remaining. The clock is ticking. Currently the TRCA has plans to harden the majority of this area although they may leave a section or two of token beaches for the public. For those of you that don't know the area, it's a long stretch of shoreline with sandy beaches and diverse habitat along the toe of the bluffs. At the table of the bluffs there is a designated Flyway and Bird Sanctuary that is a well travelled path for many migratory species as well as diverse flora and fauna that are either threatened or at risk. It's a true wilderness that is worth protecting.
This photograph is the view looking down at the shore about 150 ft below from a lookout point at the edge of Greyabbey Ravine, an area that is at the midpoint between East Point and Bluffer's Beach. This is one of the areas that will be destroyed with armour rock. The sandy shore below is a beautiful beach that resulted overtime due to the natural erosion process of the bluffs. If you feel this area is worth preserving, now is the time to act!
|Photo credit: Jen Falvy|
We need to let the TRCA know that hardening the shore of this last stretch of beach is not acceptable. It is nothing short of environmentally irresponsible and it's also a public embarrassment for this to be done by a conservation authority.
Please email the TRCA today and let them know you want this area protected!
You may also join the Facebook Page East Point Shoreline - Keep it Natural to be kept up to date on efforts to protect this area. I would like to point out that this initiative extends beyond East Point and its shoreline; it's about protecting the diverse habitat in the various forests and wetlands that line the shore from East Point to Bluffer's Beach, it's about preserving the geological and environmental wonder of the Scarborough Bluffs and it's about allowing access to the abundant fresh water of Lake Ontario to remain intact.
A petition has been started - please sign and circulate.
Let's protect the last remaining wild spaces along our shore!