Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Why Is Moreau Lake So Low?

After visiting that pretty Lake Bonita this week and noting that its waters were brimming right up to the shoreline vegetation, I began to worry about Moreau Lake.  Both lakes are part of the property belonging to Moreau Lake State Park, but while Lake Bonita seems just as full as it should be, despite low rainfall this summer, it looks as if someone has pulled the plug on Moreau Lake, allowing its waters to drain away at an alarming rate.  These next three photos, all taken within the last week, reveal how low the water has fallen, uncovering wide swaths of beach where once the water lapped almost up to the treeline.

It's not unusual for Moreau Lake's water levels to rise and fall rather dramatically, since it is what's called a "kettle lake," formed when the miles-thick ice sheet that once covered the region carved depressions out of the land as it retreated.  These depressions were filled with melting chunks of glaciers and have no significant inlets or outlets, so yes, this kind of lake will tend to vary in depth much more than, say, a springfed lake would do.  In the more than 40 years I've been visiting this lake, I have seen significant fluctuations.  But never have I seen the water so low.  And neither have state park officials, I learned, after reading a newspaper article in The Saratogian.

In a December 11 Saratogian article written by Paul Post,  state park officials expressed their concerns about why water levels are currently as much as four feet below normal.  Drought and beaver dams could be part of the cause, they allowed, but suggested that other factors, such as regional construction that impacts water tables could also be contributing to the problem.  The officials announced that a hydrological study will be undertaken this winter, led by State Parks Natural Resources Steward Casey Holzworth, with the assistance of staff from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

I wish them well, and I hope they find a problem that is capable of being resolved.  As this photo I took today of hundreds of Canada Geese swimming on Moreau Lake reveals, I'm not the only one who loves these beautiful waters.

I also love its beautiful shores, and truth be told, it has been delightful to be able to walk completely around the lake this year on broad sandy beaches. All kinds of interesting natural phenomena can be found on these shores, and this green-algae-covered log spiked with tiny fungi was one I found this week.

I wasn't surprised to find it, since I've been finding it here in the very same spot for more than five years, seemingly unchanged.  Well, the log has rotted away considerably, but the tiny fungus called Multiclavula mucida persists undiminished through all seasons and weathers, despite its small size and delicate appearance.  This fungus can only grow in the presence of green algae, which the rotting log it grows on has generously supplied.

Other treasures also can be found now out on these sandy stretches, such as these two clumps of deep purple leaves.  I am truly stumped to name them however.  So I just enjoyed their graceful beauty and lovely color.  Perhaps some of my readers recognize them and will inform us in a comment.

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

Fascinating fungi! Interesting about the lake. I look forward to seeing what happens in the spring.