This photo of a Canada Goose swimming on the calm waters of Lake Edith was taken by Courtney Fauht, who entered it into the Lake Biodiversity Photo Challenge for this year’s annual Lake Biodiversity Photo Challenge, sponsored by Living Lakes Canada. | C.Fauht photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A photo really can show how much you love your lake. It can also help your favourite lake to stay healthy.

Living Lakes Canada is in the middle of its third annual Lake Biodiversity Photo Challenge, a facet of the organization’s National Lake Blitz.

The Blitz is a Canada-wide citizen science monitoring effort that helps participating volunteers understand how climate change and other impacts affect the health of lake ecosystems. 

“There’s so much packed into this program,” said Camille LeBlanc, Lake Blitz Program Manager. “People in Canada… they really love their lakes.”

Every year from May to September, volunteers collect temperature readings, take shoreline photos and record the water colour at their chosen lakes. They then submit their data which gets added to the Lake Observation Map.

It’s all about citizen science.

“I feel like we all have a soft spot for lakes in our hearts, but sometimes we don’t realize that they’re really fragile systems that are being threatened by impacts, like climate, invasive species, development and pollution,” LeBlanc said.

“The main goal of the monitoring program is to raise awareness around how these impacts affect lake health and the wider biodiversity and just providing people with the resources and an opportunity to be active stewards at their local lakes in a way that doesn’t require them to have a lot of scientific or technical experience. It’s really like an entry level point for people to steward their lakes through their observations.”

For instance, there are two entries for Lake Annette, one from May 19 that shows the below surface temperature at 15 C and the other from June 1 that shows the temperature at 13 C.

The photo challenge ties into that encouragement to “observe and record” your lake by offering an artistic venue for people to show their lake love.

“It’s just essentially the easiest way to take part in the program,” LeBlanc said.

“It’s really a celebration of lakes, and it’s become very quickly one of our favourite parts of the summer.”  

Living Lakes essentially opens the door for anyone and everyone to become involved in promoting lake health since many people don’t have the time to be lake monitors.

The contest runs until July 31 – Lake Appreciation Month – and it has already amassed more entries that it did for its 2022 edition.  

While Jasper National Park has more than 1,700 lakes, so far there is only one entry from Jasper.

There are four categories: Lake Landscapes, Lake Biodiversity, Lake Impacts and a Kids category. Judges will determine a winner from each category while the public also has the chance to vote on their favourite images, starting Aug. 1.

Prizes will range from LUSH Cosmetics to Kicking Horse Coffee products, Teadore loose leaf tea, Earth Rangers and a Float-eh adult-sized Loon Float (only for the Judge’s Favourite winner in the Lake Biodiversity category).

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 23, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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