Lake Management Articles

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Lake Management – Best Practices

By D.Ernes – Lake Management Committee

We are all going through many new experiences as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone is  doing things differently, if at all. Our focus, as it should be, is on the health of our family, friends and neighbors. These should be paramount as we move through this historic period. As the days warm, and the trees and flowers bloom, we begin to look outside. And that includes our lake. While the situations may limit what we can do on a whole lake approach this year, we can still pay attention to the simple things that each of us can do to help protect our greatest asset. Over the years, the Lake Management Committee (LMC), has written many articles on topics that are important for our lake.  Here are a few examples of practices that can have a positive impact on our lake.

Fertilizer – If you must use fertilizer, use phosphorous-free and slow-release nitrogen products. Test your lawn first to make sure you use the proper types and amounts (this could also saves you money!). Don’t apply fertilizer prior to a major storm, as most of it will end up in the lake and not in your lawn!

Lawn maintenance – When mowing your lawn, do not blow the clippings into the street or, more importantly, into the lake. If you see your neighbor or a lawn service discharging clippings or debris (leaves, etc.) into the lake, talk to them and encourage them to use another approach. They can contact the LMC through the RRA office or our email address and we would be happy to discuss this with them if they wish.  Use the compost site which is the best location for your yard waste.

Landscaping projects – When doing a new construction or an upgrade to your lawn-scape, think of the lake. We have written articles on buffer zones and rain gardens that can be both attractive as well as help to reduce nutrient run-off into the lake. Make use of silt barriers as appropriate.

Pets – Remember to pick up after your pet both in your lawn and when walking them through the neighborhood. The waste can add nutrients into the lake and can also affect the bacteria – especially at the beaches.

Cleaning Products – This is the season to wash our cars, our boats and maybe the siding on our house. Some detergents will be detrimental to the lake. There is a list of “green” products on the RRA website that can do the job while being good to the lake.

Overall, think about what you do outside. What is in your yard, may end up in the lake, even if you do not live right on the lake. The watershed for our lake is very large, so everyone should think about this. Just remember – the health of the lake effects the health of our community.

BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE and STAY SAFE

When You Feed Geese

By Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

 The Canada Goose is one of the most beautiful animals in the world.  But in recent years, flocks of local-nesting or “resident” geese have become year-round inhabitants of our recreational areas, waterways, and residential areas, where they can cause significant problems.

When you feed geese, you convince them that Roaming Shores has a year-round supply of free, easily-accessible food – too nice a place to leave.  Thus some of these migratory birds have literally stopped migrating.  Winter food shortages used to induce their yearly flight south, but free food handouts from naive citizens and their guests–who think they’re doing the geese a favor–can short-circuit millions of years of evolutionary instinct compelling the geese to stay put.

In actuality, you aren’t doing the geese any favors when you feed them (or any other wildlife).  Bread and popcorn are incredibly harmful to both individual animals and entire populations.  Filled up on junk food, the birds won’t seek out the natural, protein-rich staples of their usual diet, leading to widespread malnutrition and wing deformity in goslings.  Further, biologically unsustainable population spikes lead to the quick spread of Enteritis, Aspergillus, and Avian Botulism, diseases that have killed scores of birds across North America.

Hand-feeding doesn’t just hurt birds.  Unwieldy bird populations are also potentially harmful to humans: goose feces contain E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Cryptosporidium.  Exposure to contaminated droppings can also cause Swimmer’s Itch and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.  Feeding (and pooping) usually occurs in the most accessible areas, making a mess of heavily used walkways, lawns, boat ramps, docks and parking areas.  In the Shores, goose poop is everywhere.  

The long-term answer is acting responsibly when we interact with our environment – do not ever, under any circumstances, feed a Canada Goose.  And if you see someone doing it, politely inform them that despite their good intentions, they are actually harming the animals by malnutrition, increasing disease vectors, and preventing them from migrating.  Be Lake Responsible.

Goosebusters: Good job so far!

By Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

I have begun to see goslings hatching out around May 1st.  We did a pretty good job neutralizing the goose nests that were located earlier thanks to the support and reports we received from many concerned residents.  Now and through June is the time to be vigilant in watching for goslings and begin harassing them the day they show up.  The longer you wait, the harder our job is to get rid of them. 

According to Geoffery Westerfield of the ODNR, harassing the goslings is very important for limiting the number of resident geese on our lake during the rest of the year.  Separating the goslings from their parents even for a short time is an effective form of harassment.  Geoffery advises that whenever you can, try to separate goslings from the adult geese by stepping between them shooing the goslings away from the adults by waving your arms and making loud noises (do not make contact).  “Don’t stop anywhere short of the geese leaving your property”, says Geoffery.  Simply chasing them to the water or the neighbor will not keep the geese off of your property (and is actually also counterproductive).  Geese will “shift” around the property, especially those without goslings.  Keep up the consistent and persistent harassment. Your goal is to send the message to the adult geese that your property is not a safe place to raise their young and to the goslings that Lake Roaming Rock can be a scary place.

June 1st is an important date.  Geese will begin to molt (i.e. lose their flight feathers) around June 1st.  If you don’t harass them off the property by that date, it becomes very difficult to remove them and you will likely be stuck with the geese till mid-July.

Geese excrement is a contributor to the E. coli levels in our lake.  In addition, it provides excess nutrients that feed the algae and weeds.  We love our geese, but a few less wouldn’t hurt either.  Thanks for being lake responsible!

 

Aquatic Weed Control at Private Docks

Roaming Shores Lake Management understands that aquatic plants can offer many benefits in our lake, and some native plant growth is essential in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.  However, aquatic vegetation can quickly turn into nuisance growth when invasive plant species, most significantly Eurasian watermilfoil, crowd out native species, and thus negatively impact enjoyment of boating, fishing, swimming, and beauty of our lake.  Watershed infusion of excessive nutrients over the past several years has exacerbated the problem.  Our Board of Directors has received many complaints from residents indicating that weed growth needs attention to help ensure the future of the lake.  After much research and review, the following program was approved at our Rome Rock Association meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Aqua Doc is a well-known, licensed, experienced, and reputable company based in Chardon Ohio.  It provides a variety of services throughout the state of Ohio including weed control for both private lake communities and the state of Ohio waterways, including the Metro Parks System and ODNR-managed waterways.   Aqua Doc has been approved to provide weed management services for any lakefront property owner who chooses to utilize their services for the 2020 summer season.  Please note this is the ONLY aquatic weed treatment permitted in our lake.  Private use of herbicides in our lake is prohibited and subject to a $1000 fine.

The services will begin in May and be repeated monthly during June, July and August.  Aqua Doc will provide a season cost quotation to each lakefront property owner based upon the length of their lakefront according to County real estate records.  Treatments are calculated out 30 feet from dock.  The nuisance weeds particularly targeted are those that are submerged and grow to form mats on the water.  Algae is not controlled by these products.  Contact herbicides will be used which rapidly breakdown into basic carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and are non-detectable after 24 hours.  They are approved by the EPA after 10 years of laboratory and field testing by both the EPA and a third party.  They are reregistered and tested every 15 years.  The products will be applied in low dosages and have been determined by the EPA to be safe for fish and humans.  There is no swimming restriction required after application of the products; however, Aqua Doc recommends allowing 1-2 hours of no boating or swimming in the area of application to enhance weed absorption and control effectiveness.  Because the products are contact herbicides, lot owners should not use the treated water to irrigate lawns, etc. for 72 hours after application.

We need a minimum of 50 residents to sign up for this service.  THIS IS NOT A TREATMENT FOR OUR ENTIRE LAKE!  Our lake is 550 acres.  Each 50 resident sign up averages .0006% of our total lake.  The agreement for this service will be between the property owner and Aqua Doc.  Aqua Doc will calculate the total cost for your specific lot in the manner listed earlier.  There is no additional markup, and any questions or comments will be between the property owner and Aqua Doc.  Please understand, this is not a magic bullet for our lake and will not address the algae issue.  It is only weed management and will continue to be augmented by utilizing our weed harvester for channel areas. 

An informational meeting originally scheduled for Saturday, April 4, was cancelled because of our Governor’s mandate.   In lieu of this we encourage all residents to submit their questions to the association office or email them directly to lake management at  romerocklmc@gmail.com.

You may contact the Association office to sign up for this service.  Aqua Doc is also sending letters to each lake front property owner informing you of how this will work and providing additional information.

We continue to focus on all aspects of a healthy lake including weed management, aquatic life, sediment control and water quality.  Additional programs and activities are being reviewed.  Thank you for your interest and your commitment to our entire lake community!  This program will be reviewed and evaluated at the end of this year to determine how well it worked for everyone.

We want to thank our Lake Management Committee for their efforts in finding effective, environmentally appropriate, cost effective ways to enhance and preserve the most important asset of our lake community, Lake Roaming Rock.  We also want to thank you, the members for your shared commitment to this same cause.

Addling Goose Nests

By Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are a modern success story for wildlife management.  At one time, numbers of Canada Geese were in decline.  However, time and the actions of various wildlife agencies have brought their numbers in Ohio to well over 100,000 individuals.  Unfortunately, this dramatic increase in population has resulted in some negative consequences including contributing to excess nutrients and bacteria in our lake which encourage nuisance weeds and harmful algae. 

Did you ever wonder how the geese that are congregating on our beaches and in your backyard are affecting the ecology of our lake?  Considering each goose can produce 1 to 2 pounds of droppings each day, and a typical Canada Goose may poop 28 times a day, it doesn’t look good for homeowners – or our lake.

By April we have seen geese pair up to select nesting sites typically found near the lake within direct sight of the water.  To limit geese production your Lake Management Committee notes these nest sites for a timely visit by ODNR-licensed individuals to addle the eggs.  Addling is a humane process to prevent eggs from hatching while encouraging geese to continue incubating their eggs and not renesting.  If eggs or nest are removed before the goose has satisfied the nesting instinct, it will simply build another nest and lay additional eggs.

Egg addling (through shaking, oiling or puncturing eggs) and nest removal are effective tools for reducing reproduction of Canada Geese in urban areas.  Association residents that discover goose nest on their properties or nearby recreational areas could report the sites to the RRA Office (440-563-3170) to arrange for egg addling.

You will be hearing much more about geese conflict management and damage prevention strategies from your Lake Management Committee this summer including some techniques to help keep them moving along out of our area. 

Love our lake and be lake responsible.

Canada Geese Timeline

By Richard D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee

Canada Geese are a valuable natural resource that provides recreation and enjoyment to bird watchers, hunters, and the public. The sight of the distinctive V-formation of a flock of Canada geese always brings a special thrill. Their calls herald the changing seasons. But in recent years, flocks of local-nesting or “resident” geese have become year-round inhabitants of our recreational areas, waterways, and residential areas, where they can cause significant problems.

Canada Geese deposit their feces anywhere the urge hits them. They too often like the same areas we do – swimming beaches, lawns, docks, and boat launches. During the day, a goose drops one pound of dung. In addition to contributing to E. coli levels in the lake, geese are also major contributors of phosphorus and nitrogen in lakes and waterways that encourage algae and weeds to grow rapidly.

In January and February migratory geese are moving through our area with some of the breeding age geese breaking away from the flocks in early preparation of the nesting season. These geese begin to pair up and separate themselves from the migratory flock. By March geese are paired and begin to set up nesting territories laying their eggs in early April and incubating the eggs late in the month. Goose eggs begin to hatch in May. In June adult geese begin their molting and, like their goslings, are unable to fly.

Flight feathers grow and mature on both adult and young geese enabling them to fly in mid-July. July is an important time of the year for us marking the beginning of our annual ‘Goosebusters’ campaign to harass the geese encouraging them to make their home elsewhere. Some geese find our lake too comfortable and safe and will, unfortunately, become “resident” geese forming flocks in August and September to stay for the season. Migratory geese move out of our area in October through December.

Your Lake Management Committee thanks you for your efforts last year reporting nesting sites and harassing geese to move them along. You’ve made a noticeable contribution to benefit our lake community.

Love our lake and be lake responsible.

What is a Lake Management Plan

By David Ernes – Lake Management Committee

You may have heard a lot of discussion lately on ‘developing a Lake Management Plan’. But just what is it? According to the North American Lake Management Society, “A lake and/or watershed management plan is a dynamic document that identifies goals and action items for the purpose of creating, protecting and/or maintaining desired conditions in a lake and its watershed for a given period of time.” No two plans are the same. In general they address some or all of the following issues – management of aquatic species, fishery, recreational activities and watersheds as well as protection of shorelines, and water quality. Many of these activities have actually been on-going since the creation of Lake Roaming Rock. You can read about some of those activities from Carolyn Tharp’s excellent history available on the RRA web site. These range from control of shoreline erosion by retaining wall requirements early in the life of the lake to the on-going dredging operations conducted by Dan Mullins and his team. There have also been a number of water quality studies done by several agencies over the years. This body of information allows us to understand many aspects of our lake from vegetation to sediment deposition to water quality.

So, where are we in this process? As in the past, the LMC continues to coordinate testing of the lake for bacteria and toxins. At the same time, the LMC, along with the Environmental Advocacy Club, are working with our consultants and other experts to investigate options to be considered for this plan, with the primary objective of a positive impact on the lake.

A management plan is not necessarily fast. When one is dealing with nearly 54 years of environmental and human impacts on the lake, it is not surprising that it will not be reversed in a few weeks or months. Also, every option has advantages and disadvantages and it is the balance that has the best chance for success. Just remember, we are talking about 2.5 billion gallons of water. With everyone working together, and understanding the importance of the process, we can move forward to ensuring that our lake is something to be enjoyed for years to come.

BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE

The Lake in Winter

By David Ernes – Lake Management Committee

A frozen lake is just one more sign that winter has come to Roaming Shores. It presents a frozen snapshot of the beauty of the lake that has an almost alien quality to it. A lake’s “winter” season is not usually associated with December 21st to March 21st, but is often based on the dates that the lake becomes fully ice covered. Once the surface of the lake is frozen, the entire ecosystem under the ice changes to cope with the colder temperatures.

The microscopic animals (zooplankton) and photosynthetic organisms (phytoplankton) produce thick-walled resistant cells, which allows them to survive until spring. Some species of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) can survive at the cold temperatures by become cannibals and consuming other algae species for food they will not get from the sun. It is unlikely that they will form blooms since the conditions are not ideal, although it is not impossible.

If the algae do not completely become dormant, they may actually produce oxygen, which would be beneficial to the fish, who also share this space under the ice. If not, fish normally seek the warmer waters under the ice and can survive as long as the oxygen levels in the water are adequate. They likely migrate to the sections in the lake that are the deepest, to have the best chances for survival. Since they are not warm blooded, their metabolism slows and their activity level decreases, requiring less energy to survive. This continues until the ice melts and the water starts to warm up again.

Aquatic plants can actually handle the winter better than their terrestrial cousins if they are protected under the water. The main body of the plant dies, but the roots can survive. Some will form nodules, which can store energy while they wait for the sun to reappear. However, if they are exposed to the cold air, they may dry out and even the roots can then freeze. Lakes who perform a winter drawdown use this behavior as a method to reduce nuisance plants.

The most important aspect of the lake in winter is ice thickness. Remember, it may look solid, but with 450 acres of surface area, conditions may differ from one location to another. Some residents may use “ice cutters”, resulting in open water even if the rest of the lake is frozen. If you do venture out on the ice, use extreme caution and don’t do it alone.

(Some information presented in this article was extracted from Lakeline Vol 34, #4 (2014))

BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE And HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON

Lake Management Survey Results

By David Ernes – Lake Management Committee

A few weeks ago, the Lake Management Committee (LMC) asked the residents of Roaming Shores to participate in an on-line survey. The purpose of this survey was to get everyone’s opinion on issues that may be of concern regarding the health of our lake. To date, we have received 279 replies. First off, we would like to thank everyone who provide their input to this survey.

Of the respondents, only 20% were from residents who do not live directly on the lake. In spite of this, over 70% of those living off the lake still use it for some type of activity. So the importance of the lake is not just a lakefront issue.

Of greatest concern to the respondents was the presence of algae and toxins in the lake. The degree of concern varies based on location and length of stay in the community. Overall, the responses are not dissimilar with those appearing on the news across the country. A recent article in the Plain Dealer discusses the link between farming and manure with the increased appearance of blooms. In response to this, Governor Mike DeWine is implementing a multi-million dollar program – H2Ohio – to address this situation in the western Lake Erie basin.

We are currently evaluating the results of the survey, along with the comments more than half of you supplied. This will take some time. Once completed, the LMC, in coordination with the Board, and external inputs, will be developing a Lake Management Plan. We will keep everyone updated as to the progress towards this end. And, we will need your help as we move forwards.

If you wish to see the results from the Lake Management Survey, a copy will be available on the RRA website. Again thanks to everyone who participated.

BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE

MetroParks Invasive Aquatic Plant Survey

By David Ernes – Lake Management Committee

The Cleveland MetroParks Aquatic Invasive Species Program involves an assessment of around 200 bodies of water in Ohio’s Lake Erie basin. Our lake was selected as one of those locations. We have received the final report titled “2019 Aquatic Invasive Plant Survey at Lake Roaming Rock”. The intent of this report was to review the results of a survey completed on June 17, 2019 that involved identifying the plant species detected at 15 sampling locations throughout our lake. To get a perspective on this, in 2010, EnviroScience did an aquatic vegetation study which involved 190 locations. The MetroParks study focused primarily on the marina and Plum Creek Cove to the north and several locations south of Fisherman’s Cove. The purpose was to identify the spread of invasive aquatic plants throughout the Lake Erie basin.

On an average, 4.5 different plant species were detected at each location on our lake, the most found at the marina. Those plants present with the highest frequency were Eurasian water-milfoil [EWM] and coontail, both present at 93% of the locations. These same species were detected in the 2010 study, but the EWM was present at only a low percentage (<5%). Eighteen different species of aquatic plants were detected overall, showing greater diversity than seen in 2010 (ten species). Of those detected in the current study, three are considered invasive (including EWM). Hydrilla, the most difficult invasive species to remove from a lake, was not detected. Very good news!

The report does include several aquatic vegetation management options. They include the use of grass carp, continuation of the use of the weed harvester, and chemical control. It was clearly stated that the MetroParks program is not intended to advise as to a recommended course of action.

The last part of the report discussed prevention of further invasive species becoming an issue at our lake. They mentioned the Ohio Clean Marina Program with a Clean Boater Pledge. These programs are intended to reduce the chance for “hitchhikers” from entering our lake from other locations. They also mention that some local aquatic plant nurseries have been found to be contaminated with invasive species that are then used in decorative water gardens or rain gardens. So, due diligence is highly recommended should you use your boat at other bodies of water or plan on intentionally planting aquatic plants around your property. More will be coming with regard to this important issue.

While not a comprehensive study, the report gives us some valuable information. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found here.

[If you have any questions on this study or other issues for the Lake Management Committee, we now have a dedicated email address. Send your questions to romerocklmc@gmail.com. We will get back with you with an answer.]

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Roaming Shores, OH
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