Welcome the Summer Season

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

For years I looked forward to Memorial Day because it meant summer was unofficially here and I had the next three months to enjoy without worrying about my job. Although I really enjoyed my work dealing with school kids every day, by the end of the year, I was looking for a break. For many years, my wife and I took the family up north to Michigan where we had some memorable times. Later, the Michigan place went by the wayside, and we wound up living in a new place out in the country where we settled in to semi-retirement enjoying the surroundings. Time flew by, one summer at a time, and with each season change came other life changes, some good and some bad. Regardless, like it or not, I’m ready to great this special time of the year trying to look up, move forward, and enjoy life day by day. And, I’m not alone because a lot of people feel the same way.

Summer is vacation time. People by the millions take advantage of the outdoor recreational opportunities available across the country. Those in our area are no different. They boat, camp, fish, hike, picnic, swim, canoe, kayak, waterski, collect driftwood, and a few even do a little metal detecting. I hope I haven’t ignored any favorite outdoor activity, but I probably did. Unfortunately, there are always factors that seem to interfere with the freedoms we enjoy as we pursue our time outdoors. With thousands doing the same thing in concentrated areas, problems always seem to arise, some natural, some manmade. How we deal with these issues can make a good day turn bad in a flash.

Boating, for example, can be a hassle if the boating public doesn’t follow the rules and protocols expected from those on the water. When it’s party time, some believe that boating and alcohol do mix. That might be true if people drank responsibly, but that’s usually not the case. There are enough problems with alcohol on land. If you drink too much in your backyard and fall, you land in the grass. Pull the same stunt on the water and you could become a statistic or create some. Boat ramp etiquette is another issue that can turn a good day into a miserable one. No matter how good the facility, heavy traffic and inexperienced drivers can manufacture nightmares. The answer is simple. If you’re not able to back a boat in the water, avoid heavy traffic weekends or holidays. If that isn’t your choice, make an effort to learn trailering on days or evenings when ramp usage is minimal. Chances are that if you’re having trouble, some good Samaritan will offer to help…or not.

This year, Mother Nature has added a few obstacles to start the summer season. First, we have extremely high water at the moment and have had tributaries flooding silt and debris into the lakes for most of the spring. Running a boat at high speed can be exhilarating but not as exciting as when you hit a floating log or other piece of debris lying just below the surface. High water might mean more boating area, but a lot of that area might be filled with any number of obstacles waiting to destroy a boat or motor. Although caution might cramp the party style, practice some when on the water especially if you have lots of company. Be safe rather than being sorry.

As the season progresses, I’m wondering what effect the flooding will have on the algae problem at GLSM. The existing treatment trains are a great addition to the lake, but there is no way they can do their job with the amount of flooding we’ve experienced. Hopefully, the additional fertilizers added to the water won’t bring us to a tipping point and create conditions similar to that of 2010. That’s a concern I have every year as do most who experienced that catastrophic season.

Good or bad, summer unofficially starts this weekend. The state campgrounds at GLSM are full and the new swimming pool, splash pads, and other amenities make it a popular area. The new west swimming beach is coming along and has been dredged. Once the sand is spread and other cosmetic issues taken care of, many feel that the usage will more than justify the cost. All of the canal lakes provide outstanding recreational opportunities. For everyone to have an enjoyable time, all individuals using the facilities need to take a moment and look out for the other guy. Common courtesy and respect go a long way in making good times stay that way. Finally, as a side note, because of staffing issues, there might not be as many enforcement officers in, on, or around the water. They’re spread thin and I would assume not overly inclined to cut those who abuse the law any slack. Keep that in mind before you do something stupid. Hopefully, visitors to all of our area lakes will have a good time when they visit. Even more, it would be nice if Mother Nature cooperated and started to settle down a little bit. Enjoy the summer.