Monday, 16 July 2007

Clear Water, Quiet Summer Day, Serpents in Paradise?

Signs of the times: there’s a large, new poster at the entrance to the Centre touristique et éducatif des Laurentides north of Montreal: you can’t bring you own boat into Lac à la Truite any more. The lake is part of a nature centre with more than 36 kilometers of trails, camping, fishing and acres of wooded hills. Fear of contamination of the lake with invasive plants and animals is the major reason.

Already this summer several lakes and waterways around Quebec have also had blooms of blue-green algae which make the water toxic. Nutrient-rich run-off from farms and well-manicured country places are usually to blame, because they turn the water into a soup that the algae love. It is another example of how we can screw things up if we’re not careful when we try to get close to nature. At least one municipality is considering a by-law requiring property owners to replant a band of bushes and trees some 10 meters deep around water bodies in order to absorb the nutrients from the run-off.

Sunday, however, the water of Lac à la Truite was clear and beautiful, and it was a great pleasure to walk around it, discover a garter snake hiding in the undergrowth, watch a loon dive for fish, sit and listen to the lapping of the little waves.

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