WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett for the 12/3/2014 Aitkin Independent Age
TREES AND LAKES
There are some new terms that lake people are learning with the help of DNR Fisheries. When a tree on the shoreline falls into the lake it offers a new opportunity. By leaving it in place the fallen tree provides shade and a place where a web of aquatic life can thrive.
This “Woody Habitat” is sometimes called “Woody Debris” or “Fish Sticks.” It becomes a place where a number of fish species are attracted. So the message from fish biologists is let these trees remain in the shallows. Their existing roots will hold the soil in place on shore. And you are building up your fish population. The trees and branches we leave in the water serve as a dock for turtles and kingfishers.
WALKING ON ICE
The early onset of cold weather saw the lakes freezing early. By mid November most of the Aitkin Area lakes were iced over. Without snow cover you could walk out and see the depth of cracks in the ice and look under the surface. When sunlight and temperature changes expanded or contracted the ice cover the lake began booming like a huge kettle drum. The sounds of the lake echoing around and around is one our winter pleasures.
Every year we hear warnings about the necessary thicknesses of ice for walking and skating, for driving ATVs or trucks. I like to wait until I can be certain that ice near shore is solid. With cracks and upwelling and pools of sludge, the idea of “safe ice” can be an oxymoron for snowmobiles after dark.