Woodland Beach Property Owners Association

Olympic Tornado Catamaran class Sailor  relaxing at Woodland Beach?

OUR CHANGING BEACH by: Linda Lockyer

We Woodland Beachers love our beach, and are concerned when we see it changing. We worry when the water levels are too high; we worry when they are too low. We clear away the sand that has blown into footpaths and covered walkways; we put up snow-fencing to collect the sand in front of our cottages. We either appreciate the green plants and shrubs that grow on the beach, or we hire a bulldozer to scrape them away. But what we must understand is that our beach is a living, dynamic, ever-changing ecosystem which was once, before development, a complete dune system.

During the past few years, the water level in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron has dropped dramatically, and the wide, flat area of wet sand next to the water's edge is much wider than it used to be. Since this wave-wash zone is now farther down, new plants (especially rushes and sedges) are beginning to grow here. Some people have this growth removed, but perhaps they should look more closely for hidden treasure such as blue iris or fringed gentians. This growth does in fact change the appearance of the beach, but its roots are holding the sand in place.

Where the loose, dry sand begins is the area of dunes. The vegetation here is a big, stiff species of grass, called American Beach Grass, (Ammophila breviligulata). Believe it or not, this is a rare species because the dunes where it grows are gradually disappearing because of human intervention. This grass has adapted to being buried by sand, and if covered, will grow again to the surface. It has long roots which stabilize the sand and hold the dunes together. Behind the grassy zone, is a higher area where shrubs like sand cherry, juniper, and bearberry grow. And let's not forget the insects, birds and other animal species that make the dunes their homes. Natural forces determine the constantly changing face of the dunes. Strong winds, shifting sands, proximity to water, wave action and ice build-up all contribute to making this a harsh and fragile ecosystem.

But the dunes ecosystem is threatened most by human activity. We love the water and the beach, and our heavy use is detrimental to the fragile ecosystem. ATV traffic is the worst, but even foot traffic tramples plants and destroys roots. To protect the dunes and keep our beach the way we like it, we need to think before we act. Perhaps we should think twice before we scrape away the vegetation. Why not plant beach grass and help the dunes renew themselves? Spread the blanket in an area where there is no grass. Try to keep the kids from running up and down the dunes; play on the open sand instead. Let's designate paths and stick to using them. We can also encourage Tiny Township politicians and staff to comply with the “Environment First” policy as stated in the Official Plan. “The public and private beach areas in the Municipality are considered to be an important natural resource which should be carefully managed to ensure that its use does not have an impact on the environment and adjacent residential areas.”

If we all act together now, we can protect our special resource, our beautiful and fragile Woodland Beach, so future generations will be able to love and enjoy it as much as we do!




One of the biggest concerns of property owners in the area of Georgian Bay are the rapidly declining water levels. Read about some of the causes & find out what is being done as well as listen to an interview with Mary Muter, Chair of the GBA Air & Water Environment Committee by following this link to the Georgian Bay Association. www.georgianbay.ca