SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE

by · May 16, 2014

Give Mother Nature A Chance To Work Her Magic.

By Rick Wigmore

Photo of a very large Bull Frog at Musselman's Lake. The Lake's frog and turtle population has been making a comeback in recent years.

Photo of a very large Bull Frog at Musselman’s Lake. The Lake’s frog and turtle population has been making a comeback in recent years.

I had an interesting conversation with longtime resident Bob James on Earth Day. Between the two of us there are over one hundred years spent at the Lake. Bob noted he had never seen such an algae explosion in the spring with which I concurred. We will definitely monitor this situation to see what happens as the rooted weeds begin to grow again.  We got to talking how the Lake report and Dr. Hutchinson has really pointed out that our Lake is in a good place and maybe that’s more due to us not reacting to environmental trends and depending more on nature to take its course.  At the MLRA we always receive plenty of resident advice and the biggest one by far is for a weed harvest. But now Dr. Hutchinson has pointed out in his recent report that there is a constant war going on between algae and rooted weeds in the Lake. If you harvest the rooted weeds you stand a chance of not only ruining fish habitat but tipping the balance of power from rooted weeds which are basically harmless, to algae of which some varieties can be toxic to pets and swimmers. There is proof of this phenomenon. “When do we have the most trouble with algae?” The early spring and late fall is when we see algae blooms and this corresponds with the lack of rooted weeds which die off late fall and return late spring.  We also talked about Phoslock which at one time was touted as the panacea to too many rooted weeds. Lake Wilcox launched an aerator on their lake with great fanfare as the answer to weeds and stagnant water and ended up with a red bloom problem. It seems the older you get, the more you realize these so called short term solutions seem to always lead you to a problem you never had before.

Image http://www.lifehack.org/

Delicate Balance
Image http://www.lifehack.org/

Probably the greatest example of leave well enough alone and let nature take its course occurred right here at Musselman’s Lake in the Spring of 2009 with the “great crappie die off”.  If residents knew that crappie, an invasive bait fish probably introduced to the lake by ice fishermen, was knocking the stuffing out of the bass population there would have been a large hue and cry to do something. As it was, no one knew. Then one day we woke up to thousands of dead and floating fish. After the initial shock, we investigated and lo and behold the fish were all crappie. No bass, no pike, no sunfish just crappie. Mother Nature had sent a virus that just attacked the crappie population and in one fell swoop put the whole fish population back in its proper balance. Mother Nature can do a much better job of managing the environment without man’s interference in its delicate balance.