'Love Your Lake' project results are in with tips for lakeshore property owners to prevent flooding with plants

Plants to protect lake homes

Property owners on Okanagan Lake in Summerland and Vaseux Lake can now download their free shoreline assessment from the Love Your Lake project, with personalized tips on how to use native plants to protect from flooding. 

Last summer, the program, which is facilitated by the Southern Interior Land Trust, collected information by boat to assess current shoreline conditions and determine voluntary suggestions that each property owner could take.

"Every report details the current conditions," explained SILT director Al Peatt. "Most importantly, this time of year especially, how to protect the property from flood and erosion."

Tips also include how to reduce the likelihood of unwanted algae and aquatic plants. 

"A lot of property owners don't necessarily make the connection between how the management of their property may affect the water quality in front of their property," Peatt said. 

"So this ties that together in a very positive way and provides opportunity for the land owner to look after their own interests rather than relying on the local government to come fix it after it's all damaged."

The Southern Interior Land Trust got involved in Love Your Lake, which is a national initiative locally funded by the South Okanagan Conservation Fund and endorsed by the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, after noticing dramatic changes to lakeshore properties in recent years. 

"It's a really obvious trend in the last few years of converting either larger properties on the lake to smaller subdivided properties, but more importantly the conversion of smaller homes on the lake to larger houses with greater hard surface coverage of the lot areas," Peatt said. 

"It's a loss of natural vegetation, whether that's native vegetation or planted landscaping, and with floods in recent years, it's resulted in a move to really doing some hard engineering on the shorelines to protect those properties, and there are other methods out there that are as effective or more effective."

Property owners in the survey areas, in Summerland and on Vaseux Lake, have been mailed a personalized letter with a unique download for their free report. Peatt is hopeful the tips, which are not mandatory, will be taken to heart and implemented as the win-win tools that they are. 

"Most property owners don't want shrubs and trees obstructing their views," Peatt said.

"Our suggestions that we make are geared toward plants that are native that can be used to frame views, stabilize shores and the shoreline, and the best part is not only are they beautiful but they can be pruned low so that the views can be maintained and enhanced ... this is a method to jumpstart voluntary stewardship that will benefit all residents in the valley."

The project will soon continue and cover more ground. This summer, the team will be taking their boats out on Skaha Lake and Twin Lakes, conducting assessments from the water. 

"Those are both areas that have generally well known water quality issues and some important wildlife values," Peatt said. 

Those reports will be available for property owners next year.

In the meantime, if any property owners think they should have received a report this year but have not or need your code, they can reach out to Peatt at [email protected]

The program operates with the help of donors, and anyone wishing to learn more or donate can click here

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