Shoreline Habitat Inventory Mapping

Lake Winnipeg Foundation Inc. (LWF), a charitable, non-government organization, was established in 2005 to promote the restoration and protection of Lake Winnipeg and its watershed. In 2010, the Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund (LWBSF) presented an opportunity for the LWF to propose a project that would enhance research and monitoring capacity to assist in decision making for Lake Winnipeg. Based on an ecosystem assessment model developed by the Community Mapping Network in British Columbia (Mason and Knight, 2001; Mason and Booth, 2004) and applied to several provincial lakes, a proposal “Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping of Foreshore Areas of Lake Winnipeg South Basin and Development of Shoreline Management Guidelines” was prepared by the LWF and submitted to the LWBSF.

With funding awarded by the LWBSF and additional support from Thomas Sill Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Small Change Fund, the LWF coordinated the Lake Winnipeg SHIM project. The team of environmental specialists assembled by the LWF undertook field data collection, data analyses, report preparation, data product development, and project management and included: Terra Limnic Consulting (Winslaw, BC), Native Plant Solutions (DUC, Winnipeg, Mb), Aquatic Environmental Services (St. Andrews, Mb); Whelan Enns Associates Inc. (Winnipeg, Mb), Benson Fishers (Gimli, Mb), University of Manitoba, and Washington State University.
In addition to providing science-based information on Lake Winnipeg south basin shorelines, SHIM will help to locate point and non-point nutrient sources, identify priority aquatic ecosystems that support nutrient reduction and sequestration, and achieve overall nutrient load reductions to the lake, the ultimate goal of the LWBSF program. Scientific studies indicate that most nutrients to Lake Winnipeg come from sources closest to the Lake (State of Lake Winnipeg 1999 to 2007). Communities and infrastructure situated directly adjacent to Lake Winnipeg, pose significant risks to water quality from nutrient and contaminant loading and to fish and wildlife from shore habitat alteration, disruption, or destruction.

Creating a baseline inventory of existing Lake Winnipeg south basin shoreline conditions is the first step in preparing an integrated master plan for any future sustainable development options. All shoreline activities require that regulators have access to science-based information, to guide decisions for the protection, rehabilitation or development of shoreline areas. The Lake Winnipeg SHIM is a first attempt to provide some of this missing information.

 

 

The SHIM Reports

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Land use is a categorical field that is used to describe the dominant land use observed along the segment. Categories include Agriculture, Commercial, Conservation, Forestry, Industrial, Institution, Multi-Family, Natural Area, Park, Recreation, Single Family, Rural, and Urban Park. Land use determination is based upon a combination of field observation, review of zoning and bylaw maps, and air photo interpretation.

Level of impact is a categorical field used to describe general disturbances observed along the shoreline. Disturbances are considered to be any anthropogenic influence that has altered shoreline features including the foreshore substrates, vegetation, or the shoreline (e.g., retaining walls, groynes, etc.). Level of impact is determined from the length of the shore line (i.e., along the segment) and the depth of the shore zone area to between 15 to 50 m back. In more rural settings, typically the assessment area is greater (i.e., 50 m) and in more developed shorelines, typically the assessment area is less (i.e., 15 m). In cases of roadways, highways or railways, one should generally assess the location of the rail or roadway along the segment. To facilitate interpretation of this category, air photo interpretation is recommended to better estimate disturbance.

Shore type is a categorical field that describes the predominant shore type that occurs along the length of the shore segment (i.e., the highest percentage of the linear shoreline length). Shore types include Cliff/Bluff, Rocky Shore, Gravel, Sand, Stream Mouth, Wetland, and Other (Sand, Sand spit)

The shore type modifier field is used to describe significant shoreline structures/activities that influence the shoreline. The field is categorical and choices include Log Yard, Small Marina (6-20 slips), Large Marina (greater than 20 slips), Railway, Roadway, None, and Other.

The Vegetation Band One Land Cover Class is a description of the predominant vegetation class present. Categories are largely derived from the Sensitive Habitat Inventory and Mapping Module 4. The Coniferous Class occurs where tree cover is at least 20% of the shore zone area and at least 80% of the trees are coniferous. The Broadleaf Class occurs where the tree cover is at least 20% and at least 65% of the trees are broadleaf or deciduous. The Mixed Forest Class occurs where tree cover is at least 20% and there are no more than 80% coniferous trees and no more than 65% broadleaf trees. The Shrubs Class occurs where tree coverage is less than 10% and there shrubs cover at least of 20%. Shrubs are defined as multi-stemmed woody perennial plants. The Herbs / Grasses Class occur where there is at less than 10% tree coverage and less than 20% of shrubs. The Exposes Soil Class occurs where recent disturbance, either anthropogenic or natural, has occurred and mineral soils are exposes. The Landscape Class refers to urbanized areas where most natural vegetation has been replaced by at least 30% coverage of ornamental trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. The Lawn Class occurs in urbanized areas where turf grasses cover at least 30% of the shore zone area 20% 36% 16% 12% 12% 2% 2% Predominant Vegetation Class Present Shrubs Broadleaf Forest Mixed Forest Lawn Natural Wetland Unvegetated Exposed soil Copyright Lake Winnipeg Foundation Inc. April 2012 37 and landscaping with ornamental shrubs or trees is less than 30% coverage. The Natural Wetland Class occurs where shore marshes dominate the shore zone area and they have not been significantly influenced by human disturbance. The Disturbed Wetland Class occurs where shore marshes predominate the shore zone area and they have experienced significant disturbance (i.e., greater than 30%). The Row Crops Class occurs in agricultural areas where crops are growing. If sites are agricultural, but are not used for row crops (e.g., pasture lands), they should be described as Herbs/Grasses and comments should be used to indicate the agricultural nature of the shore segment. Un-vegetated Sites occur where there is less than 5% vegetation cover and at least 50% of the vegetation cover is mosses or lichens. Un-vegetated sites tend to occur on rocky, exposed shorelines.