Education and Awareness

One of the purposes of the Association is to provide useful information and raise local awareness on issues important to the environmental health of the watershed. This includes advocating for good policies and promoting responsible environmental stewardship.

We do this by maintaining a functional and informative website, publishing a timely electronic bulletin, and producing brochures and signage to draw attention to local measures to protect our watershed such as yellow buoys and mandatory boat washing.

The Association is always on the lookout for individuals with the communication skills to support our education and awareness activities. If you have these skills and are you interested in contributing, please visit the Volunteer section of the website.

Since 2012, the Association has been informing and educating its members about its work and watershed issues through its bilingual electronic bulletin, Shorelines. To subscribe to Shorelines, enter your email here:

To review back issues of Shorelines, click here:

Blue Sea Lake gets its name from the crystal-clear colour of the water and lies between the municipalities of Messines and Blue Sea. It has been a popular site for visitors for generations. Once, the Canadian Pacific Railway ran along its shores. Today, the railway bed is part of the Trans-Canada Trail and has been converted to a paved bicycle path popular with residents and visitors alike. The beauty of the lake and its surroundings have attracted a growing number of cottagers, many of whom have chosen to live here year-round.

The Association is committed to preserving the beauty and environmental health of Blue Sea Lake and the other lakes in the watershed. We do this, in part, by encouraging good environmental stewardship. Here are some practices that should be followed by everyone.

  • – It is vital to the health of the lake that the shoreline have proper vegetation to prevent erosion into the lake. See our note below on this subject. Make sure that your shoreline is properly vegetated according to the regulations established by the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and enforced by local municipalities.
  • – Do not use soaps, shampoos, or there cleaning products, including biodegradable ones, in or near the lake. They can contaminate fresh water and its marine habitat.
  • – Urine is also damaging to the lake and its marine habitat. Practice this rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t drink it, keep it out of the lake.
  • – Avoid launching fireworks in or near the lake. See our note below on this issue.
  • – Keep fires on the shore at least 10 meters from the lake. No fires are permitted on the ice in the winter.
  • – Follow the Québec fishing regulations when fishing on the lake.
  • – Do not feed aquatic birds such as ducks and geese as it increases the frequency of shoreline contamination.
  • – If you are renting your home or cottage to visitors, please make them aware of the information pamphlet the Association has prepared.
  • – If you are a boater, please follow the guidelines for boaters below.

Maintaining a proper band of trees, shrubs, and vegetation is one of the most important means of preventing erosion which  causes the premature aging of lakes and waterways. That is why, in 2009, the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau passed a by-law measure (MRC Interim Control By-law 2009-206) mandating the vegetation or re-vegetation of shorelines according to strict guidelines. The guidelines, which have been updated, also apply to any construction or other activity that might affect the stability of the shoreline, including maintaining a lawn to the edge of the water.

For the purposes of interpreting this by-law, the term shore refers to a strip of land bordering the aquatic zone from the high-water mark. Measured horizontally, that strip of land extends 10 meters (30 feet) where the slope of the shore is less than 30% or where the slope of the shore is greater than 30% but the shore has a bank that is less than 5 meters (15 feet) high. The width of this protected area is 15 meters where the slope of the shore is greater than 30% and the bank is more than 5 meters high.

These regulations are now enforced by local municipalities and apply when seeking a permit for construction near the shore. Be sure to consult your local municipality and familiarize yourself with these rules if you have or are considering the purchase of a shoreline property.

Recreational boating is popular on Blue Sea and many of the other lakes in the watershed. But boating can be a way of transporting invasive species from one body of water to another or contributing to shoreline erosion and the premature “aging” of the lake. Blue Sea Lake already has a serious problem with the invasive plant, Eurasian Milfoil, and this invasive species has spread to other lakes in the watershed. Visiting watercraft can easily bring other, even more dangerous species into our lakes and waterways, if responsible boating practices are not followed.

Accordingly, the Association strongly recommends that boaters adopt the following practices:

  • – Ensure that your motorized or non-motorized watercraft is properly washed before entering any lake in the watershed. Both Blue Sea and Messines have implemented mandatory boat washing programs which the Association strongly supports.
  • – Ensure that you have the proper licence and training from Transport Canada if you are purchasing a motorized watercraft for use on one of the lakes in the watershed.  Practice safe boating.
  • – Take note and avoid traveling through Eurasian milfoil beds with your watercraft. On Blue Sea Lake, these are identified with yellow buoys and signs. Keep away from these areas. The engines from motorboats especially can chop up and carry away stems from these plants where they can establish and spread to other parts of the lake.
  • – Keep a wide distance from the shoreline when traveling or towing a skier or tube with your motorboat and slow down when you approach. In addition to the other dangers, the wake created by a motorboat destabilizes the shoreline contributing to erosion.
  • – In particular, the Association strongly discourages the use of wakeboarding on the lakes in the watershed for these same reasons.

We know fireworks can be popular. But the Association has examined this question and has found that, in additional to the deleterious and harmful effects (noise disruption, fear and stress for domestic and wild animals, fire hazard), fireworks near the shoreline can leave harmful residue in the nearby lake or water body. We reported our research in Shorelines issue No. 23 (December 2015). We also surveyed our members in 2020 and found that 75 percent were opposed or strongly opposed to the use of fireworks near the lakes.

The Association keeps nudging municipal leaders to place limits on the use of fireworks and we know that’s not easy. In the absence of such restrictions, our position is clear: we think fireworks are harmful to the watershed and we encourage you to avoid using them.

Are you renting your place at Blue Sea this year? Are you a renter yourself? If either of these situations applies to you, or if you know renters who are new to our region, please take note and share with your renter friends this smart and informative pamphlet with helpful information on How to Maintain the Beauty of Blue Sea Lake and the other lakes in the watershed.

You can access the brochure here. You can also pick up paper copies at the Municipal Offices at Blue Sea and Messines or at local depanneurs.


Seasonal Tips

Whether you are a resident or a cottager, there are always things to do to keep your property and surroundings well managed and maintained. The same is true for for your local environment. Over the years, the Association has assembled some handy reminders that enable you to exercise good environmental stewardship while taking good care of your home or cottage. We call them seasonal tips.  Here they are. 

We hope you find them useful. We welcome any suggestions or comments.

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