I think all will agree that in Erie, we had a mild winter. The Cleveland paper recently said this winter was the sixth mildest since 1895. I know it must be true because I only used my snow blower twice this whole season. The total snowfall on or near the lake shores this season was on the exceptionally low side this year. That’s one for the good side. While that is a statistic I love, many including the cross-country skiers and snowshoe fans that use Presque Isle in the winter, will score it to the bad side of the ledger.
On the bad side is the fact that with less snow to melt the water table will most likely suffer a bit. A wet spring could solve this problem. Presque Isle itself does not have to worry in this regard, because lake levels are running
higher than ever. In fact, I am planning a blog on the water levels and their effect on the park. Right now, if you were to try to walk the Gull Point Trail, I would advise taking a kayak. Harry Leslie. Presque Isle Park manager, and I were talking a bit about this. He could not remember a time when the overall waters on, and around the park were any higher than they are now.
That brings on one of the ugly facts of a mild winter. The combination of high lake levels and no ice dunes on the lakeshore has led to many problems. Take a look the pictures below and see what has happened to some areas where the storms have hit the hardest. Years of sand that was put on the beaches is now gone.
This year little or no ice formed on the lake. Harry mentioned that this year’s annual beach walk to estimate the beach damages and over-all conditions will take place earlier this year. He said that two years ago, they pushed the date back to late April, because on April 15, there were still large chucks of ice floating off shore. From my observations while walking on the beaches so far this year, it is a very good thing that we are getting a large amount of new sand this year. We are going to need it.
Another both good and bad effect of a mild winter is that with no ice on the lake, the beaches are littered with more debris than in most years. This is bad because the annual clean up job will be more intense and difficult. From a boater’s viewpoint, though, if that log is washed onto the beach, it is not floating in the lake looking for my boat or its prop.
The mild weather this winter also made life much easier on the park’s wildlife. The deer, coyote and foxes I have seen throughout the park this spring look very healthy and active. However, the bird migration seems a bit strange. The Robins arrived early, some even beating the Red Wing Blackbirds to the park. The ducks and other water birds were also early. Some, who normally stayed for a while on the park before moving on, barely made a two-day stop before leaving. In the water, the Crappie and other pan fish are biting now, which means their spawn will begin before the natural time. This may be bad, as the weed beds they use as protection will not have developed.
If you have visited the Lily Pond or waterworks areas of Presque Isle over the winter this year, you may have noticed that the normally inactive beavers on the park have had an active winter season this year. A number of fine trees were taken down by these tree chewing nuisances this winter. Now don’t get me wrong, I like beavers, but they do a lot of damage on the park. With such a mild winter, they did not hole up in their dens but remained fairly active; not very good for the park. A beaver in 20 hours can remove a tree that took 20 years to grow.
With a mild winter, warmer spring, and early budding of trees and other plants, we can expect the spring allergy season will start sooner and be longer this year. Experts are also forecasting an increased number of biting insects earlier and in much greater numbers, this year. Mosquitos, fleas, flies and ticks had an easy winter, too. Add to this the high water on the park, which will encouraging the mosquitos’ breeding, and you might consider an extra can of bug repellent this year.
Only after the summer season arrives can we fully gauge the good, bad and ugly results of a mild winter on Presque Isle; then again, we cannot do anything about it except learn from it. I am looking forward and expect to experience another great spring and summer on Presque Isle. See you on the park!!
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