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The Lake Huron Centre For Coastal Conservation
Advocating Wise Stewardship of Lake Huron's Coastal Ecosystems

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Jul 28, 2015: A brief interview with Karen Alexander, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation about the Green Ribbon Champion Program in Ontario, Canada.


Front cover: Southern Georgian Bay, Shoreline Stewardship Guide - Dec. 2013 This Stewardship Guide is intended for all who have an interest and a passion for the beaches and bays, dunes and wetlands, bedrock and river mouths. It is focused on the area between Tobermory and Port Severn along southern Georgian Bay. >>> more

Dune Planting Guide 2010
South Georgian Bay Stewardship Guide
Lake Huron Shoreline Stewardship Guide (Self-Assessment workbook)
Dune Conservation means Healthy Beaches
Protecting Our Beaches
Beach Grooming - Position Statement 2011
Cobble Beaches
Cobble beaches factsheet
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Green Ribbon Champion

Introduction •  Program Summary  •  Program Support and Resources  •   Non-waterfront properties  •  Green Ribbon Champion Awards Program  •  Privacy Policy and Data Use  •  Benefits of the Green Ribbon Champion Program  •  Project Timeline  •  Resources

icon for Green Ribbon Champion Registration Form Register for Green Ribbon Champion! 

GREEN RIBBON CHAMPION  “Recognizing excellence in coastal stewardship”   Pilot Project for Tiny Township - Program Guide - 2014Pilot Project for Tiny Township
Program Guide 2014


Our Great Lakes beaches are special places, where people enjoy a unique ecosystem created over thousands of years through the action of wind and waves. These coastal dunes, wetlands and bluffs are important, yet vulnerable, features forming the character of our shores.

While it is important that people have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the coastal environment, it is equally important that the quality of our coastal ecosystems are not compromised because of overuse, or due to a lack of proper stewardship.  

Poor stewardship of coastal properties can destroy the very features that are considered valuable; features that attracted a person to the shore in the first place.

These costs can include: 

  • Poor water quality
  • Conflicts between shoreline users
  • Loss of beach use
  • Reduction in property values
  • Decline of aquatic habitat and species
  • Diminished recreation and tourism options

Care for our coastal corridor, (the ribbon of sand, vegetation and nearshore waters), will help toward water quality improvement, protection of biodiversity and the maintenance of the natural processes and functions that contribute to a high quality coastal environment.

Green Ribbon Champion is a shoreline stewardship and education program designed to provide advice, resources and support to shoreline residents in Georgian Bay.   

By engaging the local community in wise coastal stewardship the Green Ribbon Champion program will improve the health of Tiny Township beaches.

Wouldn’t it be great to understand how you can protect and improve the health of your beach?


Program Summary

Green Ribbon Champion begins by registering online.  Once registered, the Centre will visit your shoreline property and evaluate the health of the beach and dunes between the cottage lot and the water using standardized protocols.

The evaluation results are summarized and provided to the shoreline resident as a Beach Health Report.  The report will describe current conditions and provide recommendations on how improvements could be made to the property.   Some reports may indicate no improvements are necessary, in which case the property is eligible for a Green Ribbon Champion award.  Other sites may require extensive restoration beyond the capacity of this project.  In this situation, the Centre will seek to provide advice for the resident but will be unable, within the capacity of this project, to help restore severely degraded shoreline areas.  

Moderately degraded shorelines can see great improvements to beach-dune health by installing sand fencing and planting dune grasses.  If these actions are appropriate for the site, the Beach Health Report will pre-approve the resident for free beach restoration materials.  (Beach grasses may require some investment by the participant).

Beach restorations take place in the fall and will be implemented by the resident with support from the Coastal Centre. The Green Ribbon Champion program will repeat annually from 2014 to 2016.  The program has limited resources and will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Register early to avoid disappointment. 

It is highly recommended for residents to work with neighbours to restore larger stretches of shore.  Neighbours who choose to work together will be considered one site and will receive one Beach Health Report.  

Coastal Centre staff will be providing support and resources to participants throughout the summer and fall seasons.


Program Support and Resources

  • Beach Care Tool-Kits will be available electronically, or in print form. Printed kits will be provided during the Beach Health evaluation/site visit.  Beach care tool-kits will also be available at the Tiny Township municipal offices in Balm Beach.

  • Educational Videos will be posted to our website in July. Videos will help Green Ribbon Champion participants with the implementation of recommendations made during the site visit.


Streamed live on Jul 28, 2015: A brief interview with Karen Alexander, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation about the Green Ribbon Champion Program in Ontario, Canada. Helpful resources and assistance for shoreline property owners in Tiny Township. Interview conducted by Carolyn Ellis, President of the Rowntree Beach Association.

A brief interview with Karen Alexander, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation about the Green Ribbon Champion Program in Ontario, Canada. Helpful resources and assistance for shoreline property owners in Tiny Township. Interview conducted by Carolyn Ellis, President of the Rowntree Beach Association.  To learn more or to register for the program, visit or you can call the Goderich office at 226-421-3029.


Beach-dune shorelines are the most diverse ecosystem in the Great Lakes Basin. They are also the most vulnerable to human pressures. This video introduces the topic of dune conservation and outlines some of the ways beach-dune ecosystems can be protected and restored.


There is a right and wrong way to design beach access through freshwater dunes. This video describes important considerations for creating and maintaining good beach access, including shape, size and orientation.


Sand fencing is commonly used to manage blowing sand on beaches along freshwater shorelines in the Great Lakes. Proper positioning and installation can make a big difference in how effective sand fencing is. This video outlines the principles of using sand fencing.


Marram Grass is the pioneer plant on a beach. It is a tough plant that is able to endure the harsh conditions of a freshwater shoreline. It is commonly used to restore dunes because of its ability to capture blowing sand and stabilize a dune. This video describes how to properly harvest and plant Marram Grass.


Invasive species are a constant threat to beach-dune ecosystems. Shoreline residents can do well to learn how to ID aggressive invasive species in their early stages so that the plant can be quickly removed before it establishes and takes over a beach area. This video introduces the topic of invasive plants on beaches.



  • Program Brochures are available by mail order for residents who would like to help advertise the program locally.  This may appeal to Beach Association Presidents as hand-out materials for community meetings.  Please contact the Coastal Centre to order brochures.

  • Private Presentations / beach tours may be requested by beach association presidents and scheduled in advance during periods of time when Coastal Centre staff are in the area.  Please contact Erinn Lawrie directly to discuss (226-421-3029).


Non-waterfront properties

Residents living away from the shoreline can still participate in the program by either working with their neighbours who do live on the shoreline, or by registering an access path that they would like to work on. If a non-beach front resident selects an access path, they must make sure both residents on either side of the path support the project by obtaining written permission.



Green Ribbon Champion Awards Program

The Green Ribbon Champion award is an outdoor sign made of recycled aluminum (9.5 “ by 12”) that residents can proudly display on the beach.

Beach Health reports are meant to provide simple and effective actions for landowners to improve beach-dune health. Implementing recommendations will take time and effort during the summer and fall seasons.

This commitment to improve coastal health deserves recognition. Green Ribbon Champion awards are provided to all residents who choose to implement recommendations, or where beach health is already preserved and protected.

Green Ribbon Champion is a symbol of environmental excellence, established to acknowledge, promote and protect the environment of privately managed rural beaches along Lake Huron and south Georgian Bay.



Privacy Policy and Data Use

Privacy policies and data use policies will be provided to all participants.  These policies state:

“the intent of the shoreline survey is to engage you in efforts to protect your beach. The survey data will not be used for any regulatory purposes.  Individual beach-front report cards will not be shared with anyone other than the registered applicant for that site.  The purpose of collecting data is to provide you with some simple actions you can take on the property to help protect the health of the beach and Georgian Bay.  Your property report is intended to provide recommendations only.  Landowners, and /or property stewards make a choice to implement recommendations; they are not required.” 


Benefits of the Green Ribbon Champion Program

Beach-dune ecosystems have evolved as a finely-tuned ecosystem over thousands of years.  The majority of time that dunes have existed, the shoreline was scarcely populated by people.  Therefore, dunes are not accustomed to the impacts we inflict on them.  When they are degraded due to such impacts, the long history of their development is lost and may not be replaced in our lifetime, or even our grandchildren’s lifetime.    

Many impacts to beach-dune ecosystems happen because of activities or alterations that interfere with natural beach processes that can lead to sand erosion, sand drifting and beach degradation. The Green Ribbon Champion program will provide support and educational resources so residents in Tiny Township can learn about ways to improve the health of their shoreline.

The program also provides support and materials so residents can restore moderately degraded beach-dune ecosystems in Tiny Township. Healthy dunes equal healthy beaches.

The benefits of a healthy beach-dune ecosystem are numerous and include:

  • Easy maintenance: healthy dunes prevent sand erosion and drifting.

  • Shoreline protection: the beach and dune system offers protection from storm waves. Protective sand bars result from temporary erosion of waves.

  • Improved water quality:  healthy dunes have a dense root network that serve as a buffer between potentially contaminated groundwater and the nearshore waters of the Georgian Bay. 

  • Health Benefits: healthy dunes help prevent wind erosion, which can expose wet sands containing bacteria and other organisms.

  • Extraordinary Beauty: dunes and their natural vegetation provide beauty unlike any other ecosystem in Ontario.

  • Socio-economic benefits: naturalization of the dunes can prevent the socio-economic loss that would result from the degradation of dunes and beaches.

  • Wildlife protection: dunes are home to an unusually large number of rare, native species.  A disproportionate number of rare plants exist here in relation to other natural areas.


2015 Project Timeline

Green Ribbon Champion will repeat annually from 2014 to 2016.



Coastal Centre

April – July 31

Browse online resources

Help advertise the program locally

Newly interested residents should register to the program

Last year’s participants should request another site visit to be re-evaluated; especially if they were unable to implement recommendations last year.

Update website with additional resources as they are available

 Collect registrations and requests for second evaluations from last year’s participants

Distribute Green Ribbon Champion awards achieved in 2014.

August 15-22

Accept beach health report and print resources during site visit; try to be available on site during the evaluation

Confirm what recommendations will be implemented

Complete site visits and beach health reports

Organize materials required, and pick-up / drop-off locations 

August - November

Implement recommendations

Access online resources

Take pictures of site before and after implementation and share with the Coastal Centre
Provide assistance as required 

December - April

Winter break!


icon for Green Ribbon Champion Registration FormGreen Ribbon Champion
Registration Form

Green Ribbon Champion is a newly designed program and is subject to change as the program progresses. Changes may be made to improve the success of the program. Feedback from participants will assist the development of this program.

This project was undertaken with the  financial support of:
Ce projet a été réalizé avec l’appui financier de:

grass plant 

Logo of 'the Coastal Centre' 

logo Township of Tiny
With support by the Township of Tiny


The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
76 Courthouse Square,
Goderich, Ontario, Canada
N7A 1M6
Coastal Centre Office: (226) 421-3029
Technical Office: (519) 523-4478
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