Lake Management Articles

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History of Concerns About Water Quality, Erosion, or Dam Safety 1966-2016

RRA Member Carolyn Tharp compiled a report on lake management to highlight moments during the first 50 years of The Shores when lake management and concerns were mentioned. This report was approved to be posted here on the website at the Sept 5th meeting of the Board of Directors. It is linked below and is also listed under LMC Reports on our Lake Management pages.

Algal Toxins and Pets

By D.Ernes – Lake Management Committee

Some of you may have seen the recent articles in the paper and on the news about pets (mainly dogs) dying after exposure to algae in lakes and ponds. I want to relay some information I have found on this issue.

First, the articles are talking about exposure to toxins that can be released from cyanobacteria [CB], which most people refer to as blue-green algae. As an organism, CB has been around as long as water has been on earth. It is present in a great many lakes in Ohio including ours. But why is this an issue with dogs?

Unlike us, dogs cannot read beach warning signs, or e-blasts and have no issues drinking water that has green swirls in it. The EPA website says “When in doubt, keep pets out”. Additionally, dogs (and other animals as well) may be more susceptible to the toxins that may be present. The most common toxin, microcystin, can cause liver damage that can be fatal in dogs. Here are some things that you should know.

1. This is not something new. There have been reports of animal deaths related to ingestion of lake water as early as 1878. It has become very visible in our 24/7 news environment.

2. Symptoms of exposure include: diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, weakness, seizures and breathing difficulties to name a few. If you notice these symptoms, take your pet immediately to the vet. Exposure can be fatal after a few hours to several days depending on the size of the pet and the quantity ingested. There is no cure, but treatments have been shown to be successful.

3. The Veterinary Merck Manual indicates that the greatest effect is from ingestion of a concentrated bloom. The amount of water ingested that can be fatal can vary from a few ounces to several gallons. For those of you with a health background, it states that the toxins have a steep dose-response curve where as much as 90% of a lethal dose can be ingested without measurable effect.

I have been unable to find any references regarding exposure limits for pets to toxins like there are for humans. So, if you see that there is a bloom on the surface of the water (often seen in the early hours of the day), keep your pet away from it. If they go in, don’t panic. Just get them out, rinse them off and keep an eye out for symptoms. If you send them outside, make sure they drink clean water before they go out, so that they are not thirsty. Have clean water available to them when they are outside so they are not tempted to drink from the lake. Take care of our furry friends and …


Got Weeds?

By Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

Last month’s “Love the Lake” article discussed that, while aquatic vegetation (“weeds”) can be burdensome and unsightly at times, it’s important to understand their importance to our lake’s ecology.  Weeds help to control or reduce the algae in the water and provide a smorgasbord of baitfish for the fish. 

Our RRA Maintenance crew works hard to cut the weeds in our lake’s channels.  However, there are times when you need to clear the weeds from your dock area so you and your guests can swim, or when they interfere with your watercraft.  You wonder what you should do about them.  There are several tools available that may make the job easier.  Consider the following:

  • Weed cutters:these are designed to cut the weeds near the water bottom so they may be raked or gathered.
  • Weed rakes:these are designed to pull loose or growing weeds toward you so they may be removed.
  • For those of us pressed for time or not up the physical task, there are several contractors in the area who would be happy to do the job.

It is important to gather and remove weeds cut from the lake so as not to contribute additional nutrients (decomposing weeds) into the lake.  Also, uncollected cuttings may root elsewhere and compound your weed problem.  Collected weeds can go into your compost bin or be disposed of at the Village compost site.

An Internet search using key words such as “lake weed rakes” or “lake weed cutters” will yield many different tools at various price levels, but most will cost from about $70 to $200.  Your Lake Management Committee has no specific product recommendations, but you can check out the following YouTube videos to get an idea of the different types of products and how to use them:

Weeds are something we have to put up with for the short time they become a problem so we may enjoy our beautiful, chemical-free lake.  With no weeds, harmful algae could become dominant and that is a condition very hard to reverse. 

Love the lake and be lake responsible.

Bryozoans or Frog Eggs?!

by R.D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

Several residents have asked me “What were those strange, jelly-like, blobs stuck to my dock this summer that look sort of like frog eggs?”  They are actually aquatic animals known as bryozones, a name that literally means “moss animal”.  Bryozoans are fairly common in lakes and streams and form colonies of gelatinous mass attached to submerged tree branches, docks, pilings, etc.  Each colony, sometimes growing to the size of a soccer ball, is made of many individual creatures called “zooids” which are microscopic creatures with a mouth, digestive tract, muscles, and nerve centers. 

Freshwater bryozoans are harmless, though they occasionally clog water pipes and sewage treatment equipment.  Bryozoans eat microscopic organisms and are eaten by several larger aquatic predators, including fish and insects.  Snails graze on them, too. Like mussels and other filter feeders, bryozoans gradually cleanse the water as they feed. The good news is that their presence usually indicates good water quality.

Bryozoans are filter feeders, sucking algae, bacteria (both good and bad), and decaying organic material out of the water, which benefits water quality.  The bryozoans that are so visible in summer will disappear as fall progresses.  At that point, they produce survival pods that contain a single zooid.  Zooids in the pods can survive long periods of dormancy, including drying out and freezing.  They start reproducing new colonies if and when the conditions are right.

They’re weird, and not the prettiest of things, but do these bryozoans mean any harm?  The simple answer is no.  Bryozoans are beneficially removing unwanted organisms from the water, so elimination of them would likely be detrimental to the aquatic environment.  I generally leave the colony to do its thing.  However, if you just can’t stand to look at it or if they frighten your guests when showing off our lake, manual removal is probably the best solution. 

The good news is that if these guys thrive in our lake, it’s a good indication that we have a healthy, organic lake environment.  For more information about bryozoans see  Love the Lake!

Keep Geese Moving

By Geoff Westerfield –Assistant Wildlife Management Supervisor, ODNR Division of Wildlife

I hope you are enjoying your summer goose free.  If so, your Lake Management Committee has done a great job limiting the harmful effects of goose droppings this year.  If not, now is the time when adult geese are spreading their new wings and the goslings are taking their first flights and it is a perfect time to return back to heavy harassment with the geese.

Geese are currently going through a “shift” looking for the spot where they are going to spend their time until the Fall so now is the time to be vigilant in chasing the geese off the property.  As I am sure you have heard me say before, the key to being goose free is doing the right techniques right at the right time of the year.  Below I provide a refresher of these techniques for this time of the year:

1)  Never stop short of the geese leaving the property.  Doing so can actually be detrimental to your program allowing the geese to feel like they “won the battle” by still being allowed to use your property even though they were harassed making it increasingly harder to harass them.

2)  If there is water on the property, always chase the geese away from the water.  Water to geese is safety and you want to remove any places where they feel safe in order to be effective.

3)  Look for places to chase geese where they can feel trapped such as thick shrubbery, fences, corners of buildings, walls, etc.  Making them feel trapped will give them a much more effective feeling of vulnerability which will help tremendously in keeping them from coming back to your property.

4)  While any bangers, screamers, lights, decoys, sprays, motion sprinklers, etc. should have been sitting on the shelf not being used over the last few months, now is the time to pull those back out and again begin using them.

5)  The two times to focus harassment efforts is at sunrise and sunset when the geese are going to/from feeding areas.

6)  Stay consistent with your harassment.  You don’t want to send mixed signals to the geese.  The goal is to make them understand loud and clear they are not welcome on your property.

7)  Once you get the geese flying, stick around for a few minutes to see if they are doing a big loop and coming back.  If they do this you should be yelling at them as they are coming back waving your hands to keep them in the air.  If there is a pond they are going to land on, throwing some rocks or sticks to make splashes on the water works great to keep them from landing on the water.

Following these tips will ensure you get rid of the geese quickly to allow you the rest of the summer goose free till the next “shift” on September 1st.  

Recreational Impacts on Lake Health

By D.Ernes – Lake Management Committee

One of the main activities on our lake during the summer months is boating. Arguably, it is one of the main reasons to own property on or near a lake. If you have gone to recent Board meetings and the Annual meeting, boating safety has been a major topic of discussion. This is mainly directed to the increased incidence of boaters and other powered watercraft users ignoring the no-wake areas. But there is also a negative effect of boating at fast speeds in no-wake areas on the health of the lake.

As the lake depth becomes shallower, such as along the shore or in the coves, the action of the propeller can stir up the sediment on the lake bottom. This can increase the turbidity of the lake and release more nutrients to the lake surface, which can increase the likelihood of algal blooms. It can also disturb the plants and animals who may reside along the lake bottom that are vital to the lake. It can take up to 24 hours for the sediment to resettle on the lake bottom. The literature states that turbulence from a propeller can reach up to 10 feet below the water surface. This can reach even further, and with more energy, with wake boats. In addition to this, most of the lake-front properties have retaining walls, which are effective at reflecting the turbulence back out into the lake, and cause more mixing if one is speeding too close to the shore.

Some wake boats can have another impact. Depending on the design, they may lower the rear of the boat by injecting lake water into a ballast. If one moves this type of boat from another lake to ours without flushing these ballasts, it is possible that invasive species of plants, and animals can be introduced into our lake. This is what happened in Lake Erie with the zebra mussels from cargo boats.

So, obeying the no-wake zones in the coves and within 75 feet of the shores is a good idea. It makes it safer for those who may use kayaks and paddleboards as well as swimmers. It also helps to protect the health of the lake.


Hard Water

By: Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

As cold temperatures slow the metabolisms of all living creatures, winter lakes such as Roaming Rock Lake exhibit reduced rates of photosynthesis and respiration. In temperate lakes covered by ice, water temperatures are about 4˚C (39˚F) top to bottom except at the very top where ice forms between 0˚C (32˚F) and 4˚C.  The unique properties of water molecules make ice less dense than water, so it floats on the top of the lake, allowing fish and other life to remain alive below.

Ice can become so thick that little light penetrates to the water below. Photosynthesis, already slowed by the cold temperatures, ceases to take place altogether in the dark water limiting weed and algae growth.  The ice also separates the lake water from the atmosphere so that no direct diffusion of oxygen can occur.  Although fish and other organisms need very little oxygen when water temperatures are so cold, oxygen may entirely deplete, resulting in a winter fish kill in some lakes.  Our fish population’s health is helped by significant water flow from our many tributaries.  The oxygen-enriched water flows under the ice all winter.

As always, Love the Lake and Be Lake Responsible.

Landscaping Options – Buffer Zones

By David Ernes – Lake Management Committee

In many cases, lakes located in areas away from human development tend to be clear and clean. However, once humans build homes, and construct docks, the natural state of the land is disturbed. In the 2007 National Lakes Assessment, a study of thousands of lakes across the continental US, lakeshore habitat change was the number one stressor for a lake’s biological condition. In the 2012 Assessment, habitat changes, coupled with increasing phosphorous are major stressors. When we replace porous soil with impervious concrete or asphalt, or remove local plants and trees and replace then with lawns and open spaces, we eliminate nature’s ability to keep bodies of water clean.

So, what can be done? You may have heard the term “buffer zones” or riparian zones. This is an approach where the area between a lawn and the lakeshore is modified by planting bushes and other plant materials that will reduce erosion and filter run-off before reaching the lake. There are numerous articles on the Internet describing the types of plants that are most beneficial and are beyond the scope of this article. In many cases, plants are selected that are natural for the area, to prevent non-native plants from growing out of control and causing a greater problem.

As one travels on our lake, you can see that almost all lakefront properties are unique. The slope of the land, the shape of the shoreline, and the proximity of our neighbors all make for unique situations. Not every situation can add a buffer zone at the shore. However, that does not mean that you cannot help. If one is thinking of making changes to their lawn and shoreline, take a look at the area. Can you use a rip-rap (use of rocks for shoreline control of erosion) instead of a retaining wall? Are there open areas next to your dock that you can have plants run up to the shoreline. If you have a steep slope, can you have a buffer zone before the slope that can filter run-off and prevent the edge from eroding. Think before removing large trees near the shore.

And, you don’t need to just be on the lakeshore to use this approach. Many lots back into a field, creek, ditch, culvert or drain. Run-off from all properties, not just lakefront, eventually winds its way into the lake. Keeping a buffer at the edge of the lawn can help to keep the nutrient levels in check.

There are numerous examples on the Internet where this approach has lead to an improvement in water quality. The Wisconsin Lakeshore Restoration Project is one example. The Portland Water District has a brochure titled “Lakes Like Less Lawn”, which outlines their program for environmental landscaping. So, if you are looking to make changes to your landscaping in the spring, consider the design and see if you can include bushes, trees and other plant material to improve not only your lot but the lake as well.


Leave Your Garden Messy

By: Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

I’ll bet you’re the kind of gardener who cuts down all old plant stalks, rakes up every frost-burned leaf,and makes your garden bed tidy each fall.   No?  Well if you are there are good reasons to change your garden maintenance schedule and wait until spring to spruce things up. 

Trees, ground cover, butterflies, birds, and other creatures that enjoy our gardens all summer need us to work on a four-season schedule.  If we make things too neat, we eliminate much of the food and shelter our plantings could provide in winter, when some creatures need them most. 

Summer’s flowers shrivel into seed heads that feed gold finches, chickadees, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, and sparrows in the cold weather while stalks and grasses provide havens for beneficial insects in hibernation.  Decomposing plants and leafs fertilize the ground for next season’s plantings and prevents oil run-off.  In addition, dried flower heads and stalks poking out of the snow make for a pleasing site adding color and structure to the landscape.

A single bee balm head holds between 80 to 110 energy-packed seeds for backyard birds.  Other plants, such as goldenrod, aster, and coneflower also produce abundant seeds. Annuals such as zinnias and black-eyed Susan’s, too, are a “feast on a stick” for birds.  Many kinds of native bees, such as bumble-bees, mason bees, and leaf-cutter bees, overwinter in the garden clutter.  Many butterfly species benefit from the not-too-neat approach, some overwintering in piles of leaves, other in natural cavities.  Leaves hold butterfly chrysalises and beneficial bugs such assassin bugs and ladybugs which need layers of leaf litter to survive the cold.

“Leave your garden messy” is the new mantra for gardeners who take the year-round prospective.  There’ll be time enough in the spring to do the cutting and clearing that make way for spring and summer blooms.  In fact, the messier the garden in winter,the more wild things we’ll see next year.

As always, Love the Lake and Be Lake Responsible.

Yep! It’s Here Again!

Winter brings slippery streets,parking lots and sidewalks.  Follow these tips to maintain safe surfaces while reducing the use of road salt that can damage our lake as well as environment. Excess road salt damages local surface waters as well as groundwater, vegetation, and infrastructure.  

Most ice is formed by the pressure of foot and vehicle traffic – so shovel early and often!  Clear the snow before applying any kind of salt/deicer.   Deicers are substances that melt ice or prevent its formation.  Road salt (sodium chloride) is the most common choice, but it doesn’t work well below about 15°F, no matter how much of the product is used.  Use just one pound of road salt per 250 sq. ft. of pavement.  One pound fills a typical coffee cup.  Overuse doesn’t improve effectiveness.

Salt should be scattered across the surface, with about three inches between granules.  If leftover salt crystals are still visible after salt has been applied, then you’ve used too much.  Sweep up the leftover salt and re-use it, or dispose of it in the trash.  Remember all salt applied in the winter will wash into our lake during the spring rains.  Switch to other deicing agents on very cold days, or apply a little sand in place of salt.  Sweep it up later to reuse throughout the season.

Remember shoveling is the most effective way to prevent ice buildup.  Minimize the use of road salt by paying attention to temperature and weather conditions to ensure you’re using the right substances and methods to manage snow and ice.  As always, Love the Lake and Be Lake Responsible.

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Roaming Shores, OH
September 19, 2019, 12:30 am
real feel: 55°F
current pressure: 30 in
humidity: 84%
wind speed: 7 mph E
wind gusts: 9 mph
sunrise: 7:08 am
sunset: 7:26 pm
Forecast September 19, 2019
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