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General News · 31st July 2015
Christian Gronau
Hague and Gunflint Lakes did not develop the massive water-quality problem they experienced last year - though the first week of May did show a short-lived bloom, accompanied by some odour. The lakes are being monitored on a regular basis these days, but it would be foolish to assume the danger of noxious algal blooms is behind us.
Those members of the Cortes Community who know us, Christian & Aileen, will recall that we lived for 34 years at a place we called Swamp’s Edge : a beaver-created marshland, just north of Anvil Lake. Many years of intimate observations of the comings and goings of plants and animals of this wetland environment made for a happy and instructive life.
When circumstances forced us to move to less satisfying quarters, one of the first things we did was to install a small artificial pond next to our new home. It was the most rewarding change to the local landscape we ever effected.
The first year the pond developed conspicuous algal growth, requiring frequent manual removal of the stringy slimy masses. We introduced shoreline vegetation : Mint, Cattails and Tule (in that order from upland down into shallow water). Especially the Cattails were easily established and thrived immediately, spreading on floating root masses a couple of feet or so into the pond. We had observed these floating margins at Swamp’s Edge before : as the roots spread freely into the water, they directly remove nutrients that otherwise could lead to eutrophication of pond or lake and cause excessive algal growth. As a consequence, even the shallow parts of Swamp Edge’s Beaver Pond had crystal-clear water.
My suggestion to upland owners of Hague and Gunflint Lakes is to plant Cattails (Typhus latifolia) in front of their properties, wherever direct access for swimming is not needed. Plant so that the roots will be able to reach lake water. An additional benefit of planting in front of houses and gardens is that any potential fertilizer or septic run-off will be sponged up by the Cattails, before entering the nutrient cycle of the lakes. And did I mention that Cattail stands are the favourite nesting habitat for Red-winged Blackbirds ? Who does not love their jubilant song, heralding spring ?