Importance of protecting dunes, soil shared

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2017
Soil Health pioneer Don Lobb shares importance of soil at dunes, soil workshop.

St. Clair Region and Ausable Bayfield conservation authorities hosted a Dunes and Gardens workshop in Port Franks, just outside the priority sub-watershed area of Lambton Shores (a sentinel watershed and beacon area for Lake Huron's southeast shore). 

Thirty-seven local residents attended the event to hear Don Lobb, of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, and Hannah Cann, of Lake Huron Coastal Centre for Conservation, speak about the importance of soil health and how shoreline residents can best manage coastal dunes.

The event was held on Monday, August 28, 2017.

Don Lobb, P. Ag. (Hon), Director-At-Large of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada spoke of the importance of applying lessons from nature in the farm field and the home garden to maintain healthy productive soil. 

Healthy garden plants require healthy soil. To improve soil health, Don suggested reducing or eliminating tillage practices, in order to encourage a healthy community of soil microorganisms. 

"We are only just learning of the diversity and importance of the soil food webs below our feet," said one participant.

Don also spoke about how civilizations have been impacted by degraded soil health.

Hannah Cann, Coastal Stewardship Coordinator of Lake Huron Coastal Centre for Conservation, shared dune conservation practices that lakeshore residents could implement to protect and preserve the Lake Huron shoreline. 

Suggestions included installing snow fence to help create dunes and implement ‘S’-shaped walkways. These S-shaped walkways help to reduce dune erosion and prevent sand buildup at cottage entrances from blowing sand. 

Hannah also shared that although mechanical grooming of a beach can result in a desired look, it can be detrimental to the ecological functioning of the beach. This type of grooming can render the sand more susceptible to erosion. Furthermore, it can remove the top layer of sand, which can expose the already-close-to surface water table. The beach then becomes soggy and wet, leaving beach users with little “towel real estate,” as Hannah called it. 

Grooming can also damage important vegetation and destroy habitat for shoreline birds.