Remote watersheds, we love them to death!

I love to Kayak in remote areas. I don’t love to bring invasive species along for the ride…

Mark Fraser is the host and executive producer of "Nature Walks with Mark Fraser"

“Weekend getaways”

One of the great joys in this world is finding a secluded place, somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. For thousands of us around the world (myself included) we find that feeling of serenity on water via Kayak or Canoe paddling along some beautiful destination without a care in the world. This gives us great and wholesome wild moments of being in a remote watershed where we can find peace and solitude. Why this certainly does represent a great way to commune with nature as well as take in a deep breath, it also is something that can create very serious problems for those very same watersheds we come to enjoy.

“Did I do that?”

Without careful forethought, these weekend trips are the direct cause of transplantation of non-native “invasive” species like Millfoil and Zebra mussels (Search online for more information on these invasive species) to name a few. This happens without our knowledge as they can simply hitch a ride on our boats and equipment and it happens all the time. The problem comes when these species arrive in a new habitat and have no natural predators. They often out compete the native species and put some of our precious plants and fish species directly in harms way.

“Love hurts”

For so many that love of a remote destination turns from a weekend adventure to a quest to purchase land and build a home, often we do this right on a lake where we can simply create our own private dock- hey no need for that long drive to the country. In time these lakes become completely enclosed by private land ownership and important plant and tree species are removed to make way for lawns. Wildlife that could formally access the vital habitat of the watershed, is now threatened by the same people who came up to enjoy being with the wildlife in the first place. Ironic when you think about it. Satellite images are a great way to look at urban sprawl from a “big picture” point of view .In fact, when you look at remote areas this way, it’s very easy to notice the ring of homes often completely surrounding a body of water.

“Solutions”

Yes, there are solutions. It’s all about the same thing, “caring” for that remote watershed but in this case we need to employ a little wisdom and care enough to start thinking about the long term health of the watershed. It’s simple really! Inspect your boating equipment and remove “any” plant material. Look for snails and mussels along the hull and motor if you have one and then do the same “every” time the boat is coming out of the water, and “before” it goes back in. This simple step could very well help protect the same remote watershed that you love to visit in the first place. Instead of clearing land around a lake to build a summer home, perhaps thinking of another solution to your getaway needs might be better. If you want to actually live their, consider the idea of looking for a home near but not actually on the water. Instead of clearing forest land right at the watershed and building a brand new home, consider renovating an existing one nearby. In the end of the day you still end up with what you were after however there was no further impact to that remote area, little steps really do make a world of difference!

Mark Fraser

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