Lake Trout and Wind Turbines in Addington Highlands & North Frontenac.
The following is a letter written by Stephen Kohut, Chair of the Fisheries Committee for the Ashby Lake Protective Association to the Addington Highlands town council.
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June 29, 2015
Reeve Hogg and Counselors:
I recognize that you are likely being inundated with feedback regarding the planned introduction of wind turbines in Addington Highlands, however, I want to present to you another perspective of the impact of this type of development on Lake Trout.
There are many studies and much research available to support the points highlighted below. I’ve added a number of key supporting comments in the attached appendix along with the original source references should you wish to read more details.
There are four key points that I would like to bring to your attention in this letter:
1) “Only about 1% of all lakes in Ontario have the right conditions to support lake trout. This 1% represents 25% of all the lake trout lakes in the world. (1) “The Province therefore has a great responsibility to manage them wisely.” (2) We are fortunate that many of these pristine, clear lakes are scattered throughout the Addington Highlands — including Ashby, Barker and Trout Lakes.
2) These trout lakes are highly sensitive and as such will be negatively impacted by the destruction of natural habitat.. In fact, lakes such as Ashby, Barker and Trout have all been designated by the Ministry of Environment as sensitive lakes (Ashby Lake is designated as highly sensitive). Wind turbines are typically on the highest ridge lines to catch the most wind. There is no infrastructure in these areas, so to build a turbine, a road network would have to be installed through presently forested areas, pad site built as well as the transmission lines. All of the run-off from building this infrastructure goes downhill to the nearest water body, contaminating that water with whatever the runoff carries. Lake Trout lakes would be adversely affected.
3) Pressure on previously remote lakes which will suddenly be accessed by many people as a result of the development of new road infrastructure for wind turbines will directly and negatively impact the natural habitat as well as added fishing pressure.
4) “If steps are not taken to manage the remaining lake trout resources, eventual extinction of lake trout as a self-sustaining species can be predicted in most lakes in eastern Ontario.” (4)
Thank you for your consideration of the perspective presented in this letter.
Stephen Kohut, Chair of the Fisheries Committee, Ashby Lake Protective Association
APPENDIX — ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SUPPORTING POINT #1
There have been numerous studies (see references below) documenting the highly sensitive nature of lakes such as Ashby, Barker and Trout and the negative impact of destruction of natural habitat. These studies have documented the negative impact on such lakes when development occurs in the area which requires the construction of roads, infrastructure and structures. The key negative impacts fall into two areas:
1) Destruction of the natural habitat required to sustain such lakes by cutting trees, building roads and other structures.
2) Subsequent pressure on these previously remote lakes which can suddenly be accessed by many people ( new road infrastructure for wind turbines )
Both of these negative impacts have been shown to directly contribute to the destruction of the natural heritage that is identified by the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) of the Ministry of the Environment as one of its prime directives.
The PPS clearly highlights the obligation of all municipalities in Ontario to protect the natural heritage which includes the lakes that support sustainable fish habitats. As stated below — many of these lakes will be lost to future generations depending on the decisions that we make today.
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) outlines matter of provincial interest in land use planning. The PPS requires that development be permitted only if there will be no negative impact on natural heritage features such as fish habitat and water quality” (3)
“Lake trout lakes are an important part of our natural heritage and provide high quality angling and recreational experiences In a significant number of Ontario lakes, lake trout populations have been lost or severely impaired unless properly managed these fisheries and their benefits will be lost forever”.(3)
“One method of ensuring [natural heritage policies are enforced] is to have municipalities include policies in official plans (for protection of water quality and fish habitats).” (3) I believe the official plan of Addington Highlands includes such a policy provision and it should not be ignored in the face of financial gain.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SUPPORTING POINTS #2 & #3
The fishing industry is a $2.5B industry providing employment, recreation and revenue for residents of the province…Lake trout lakes more than any others epitomizes the ideal of pristine, clear, quintessential wilderness waters.” (3)
“There has been a general decline in both the quality of the sport fishery for lake trout and in –lake trout habitat in many lakes. Lake trout and lake trout lakes are particularly vulnerable to the impact of human activities including exploitation, enrichment from septic systems, acidification, species introduction and habitat destruction. Because of their high sensitivity to disturbance, special protection is required for these lakes and their lake trout populations. Approximately 5% of the Provinces lake trout populations have already become extinct and 43% of the extinct populations were in the southeastern region of Ontario.” source: Martin and Oliver, 1976 (MNR — 1990)
There is much research related to the impact of development on the few lakes that are capable of supporting trout lake populations
“Development can be especially detrimental to trout lake lakes. Habitat requirements for lake trout lakes are more demanding than those of other fish species. Lake trout require clear, clean lakes with well oxygenated bottom waters.” (3)
Beyond being identified as sensitive lakes, only a few such as Ashby and Barker lakes are also identified as self-sustaining by the Ministry of the Environment.
“Self-sustaining populations of lake trout are found in these lakes because they provide a specific environmental conditions required by the species.” (3)
“Lake trout are long-lived and late maturing with the first spawning of females occurring at 6–10 years of age. This late maturation combined with modest egg production and low recruitment makes lake trout extremely vulnerable to over-fishing and degradation of loss of spawning or summer habitat.”(3)
“If steps are not taken to manage the remaining lake trout resources, eventual extinction of lake trout as a self-sustaining species can be predicted in most lakes in eastern Ontario.” (4)
Ashby Lake has been identified as highly sensitive. What this means is that Ministry has ranked lakes in the southeastern Ontario according to their inherent ability to withstand nutrient inputs and as a highly sensitive lake — Ashby Lake would be highly vulnerable to changes in optimal habitat. These lakes, including Ashby Lake have qualified as critical fish habitats and are essential to the achievement of a balanced fishery program objective. (4)
I would urge you to consider the impact of this decision on future generations. Many of the resources that will be destroyed by this development will never be recoverable and the trade-off of very limited employment and monetary “incentives” can never be adequate to cause this level of destruction.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope this information is useful making what I recognize is a very difficult decision. It’s a decision ultimately based on short term gain versus long term sustainable of very scarce and valuable resources.
(1) MOE, MNR & MMAH, Lakeshore Capacity Assessment Handbook, 2003
(2) Inland Ontario Lakes Designated for Lake Trout Management, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, 2006.
(3) Water Quality and Management of Lake Trout Lakes, County of Lennox and Addington, Ministry of Environment, 2005.
(4) Inland Trout Management in Southeastern Ontario, Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region, 1993.