by Jim Schwartz
IN THE MORE THAN 40 YEARS that we have been summering here, never have we experienced the prolonged warm lake water temperatures we have this past season. When our dock goes in (early May) I have since 1982 been dangling a thermometer at the end of it, just off lake bottom (about 4 feet deep), and monitoring the temperature daily until the dock comes out in late September or early October. Typically, our routine is to begin swimming when the water temperature reaches 65 degrees and remains at that level or higher (usually late June or early July). As fall approaches and the temperature drops below our benchmark we hang up the swim suits for the season (late August or early September).
THIS YEAR THE WATER TEMPERATURE hit 68 degrees on June 9 and remained above 65 degrees through August and into at least early September (this was written September 5; water temp.: 75 degrees and rising). That time span is not unprecedented. My log book records eight other years when temperatures reached 65 degrees in early June and remained there until as late as mid-September. And my data show four summers (1983, 1987, 1989 and 1999) when the thermometer inched into the 80 degree neighborhood, topping at 82 degrees, holding for a day or two, then skidding back into the 70s. This past summer, however, I had lake water readings 80 degrees or above from July 28 until August 10, with a high on August 1 of 86 degrees. Are there other Ten Milers out there who have kept similar records? If so, I would be delighted to hear about your experiences. (In the interest of full disclosure, I changed thermometers this year and have found that my new instrument records about 2 degrees warmer than the old. Even allowing for that difference, however, no other year since I began taking readings in 1982 comes even close to matching 2001 for this nearly two-week period of unusually high lake water temperatures.)
WHILE I'M ON THE SUBJECT of abnormal temperatures, evidence continues to mount that global warming is indeed real. The August 20 edition of TIME Magazine reports that Lonnie Thompson, a world-renowned glaciologist, has been for years involved in a unique field of research: he is clambering up the world's highest mountain peaks to retrieve ice cores before their glaciated "crowns" melt away. A particularly startling statistic: Kilimanjaro, the storied African peak, has 80% less ice cover today than it had in 1912, and a third of that loss has occurred within the last 10 years. Thompson estimates that Kilimanjaro may lose its ice cap entirely by 2020. In Peru, Thompson's team found enough evidence atop Mount Quelccaya to speculate that it may suffer a fate similar to that of Kilimanjaro, also by 2020. Thompson is blunt about what is happening: the world is warming and it is foolish to pretend that it's not.
IN THE UNITED STATES geologists are studying how warming is affecting Glacier National Park. Back in 1887 the park hosted 150 glaciers. The number now has plummeted to only 50. The scientists' conclusion: glacier melting is primarily the consequence of human influences. Geologists consider Glacier to be the best place in America to track warming trends.
WHAT IS THE DOWN SIDE of mowing your lawn to the water's edge? Well, for one thing it makes certain that nothing will impede the flow of nutrients from your property into the lake. And, if you fertilize your lawn with any regularity the concentration of harmful nutrients will increase. The best management practice is to plant and nurture a buffer strip between your lawn and the lake shore, a 10- to 15-foot wide strip of native plants and grasses that will act as a filter, soaking up nutrients and reducing the rate of storm water flow as well. If you need some guidance on what to do and how to do it, buy a copy of "Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality," available at any DNR office, or consult your local County Extension Office. Both are excellent sources of information on what works best for lakeside properties.
NOW THAT OUR BLUE enhanced 911 signs have been installed at County expense, the responsibility for maintenance and/or replacement has shifted to the property owner. If your blue sign or post is damaged or needs to be replaced, contact the County Highway Department to order a new one, but at your expense. Signs and posts are $4 apiece and the property owner is responsible for pickup and installation. Green (street) signs, on the other hand, are the responsibility of the Highway Department.
ONE WAY OF ENCOURAGING BOATERS to clear your dock or swimming area by a safe margin is to anchor a reflectorized marker buoy indicating what you consider to be the appropriate outer perimeter (not more than 1200 feet from the shore). To do so legally, however, you must first apply for a permit from the Cass County Sheriff's office, pay the $5 fee (it covers a two-year period), affix the assigned permit numbers to the buoy and put it in place. Buoys must be removed by October 1. Until recently, no fee was assessed, but that policy has changed.
TEN MILERS ARE JUSTIFIABLY PROUD of the lake's clarity (20' to 22.5' most of this summer), but the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's annual transparency report lists two lakes, Hunter and our neighboring Portage, as having better average readings in the year 2000. Hunter reported a 27.5' mean and Portage 24'. Ten Mile? 23.2'. -O -
by Larry Urbanski, Co-Chair