Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bike Week 2014

Bat Boat at Bike Week

Always a favorite with the kids, like me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No Leaf Dumping In The Lake!

As fall approaches and the deluge of leaves along with it, lakeside homeowners are often faced with the dilemma of what to do with all those leaves.  Many simply blow leaf piles down to the shoreline and into the lake, but this is not a good practice, and can lead to losing lake access privileges. Yes, lake access is a privilege, and one that can be revoked.  Although some may think it is silly to worry about any one home's impact on the lake, in reality it is the cumulative effect of everyone doing the same thing that adds up. Organic material such as leaves take a long time to decompose at the bottom of the lake where low oxygen levels slow down the decomposition.  What decomposition does occur is actually more harmful to the atmosphere as bacteria convert the organic material into methane, a very damaging greenhouse gas.  Aside from these concerns there is the quality of shoreline to consider as swimming in several inches of accumulated decomposing leaves (muck, as we call it) is unpleasant, as well as unsightly. It is not a violation of the Missouri Clean Water Law to dump leaves into the lake as a residential homeowner but businesses (commercial/industrial) can not.  Ameren "discourages" homeowners regarding dumping leaves in the lake or burning along the shoreline, and can revoke lake access privileges for "chronic violators".

"The Lake of the Ozarks already has sufficient nutrients and organic matter. A large amount of
organic matter, such as leaves that fall each autumn, makes its way into the lake naturally, and
any benefits (habitat or otherwise) to having leaf  litter in the lake are achieved through natural
processes. Any additional leaf litter may be unnecessary and even negative. Additionally, the
disposal of yard waste into lake waters can compromise the aesthetic and recreation experiences
of downstream residences. Routine or chronic violators of this policy are subject to enforcement
fees and/or suspension of shoreline permits."  - Shoreline Management Plan - Appendix B

Ameren also points out that the decomposition of large amounts of leaf material leads to depleted oxygen levels, releasing sulfur dioxide into the air, which is where that rotten egg smell comes from down by the dam sometimes. Also, a layer of leaves on the water prevents sunlight from reaching microbes in the water that process sunlight into vital nutrients that feed aquatic plants. The microbes themselves are food for small fish.

Okay, so a lot of leaves in the lake is bad. So what do you do with them?

Some may feel that burning leaves is environmentally unfriendly, adding carbon to an already carbon saturated atmosphere, but leaves, and other organic material are already in the carbon cycle and do not contribute to the increasing atmospheric load. If you do burn your leaves, please make sure you do it where the ashes will not run off into the lake. Also, make sure you call your local fire district for burn conditions.  If "conditions are not favorable" pay heed and do not burn or you might get a visit from some big red trucks.

If you still don't want to burn, you can shred the leaves with the right equipment and use it for mulch, but I don't recommend it, from a landscaping point of view. They can be used for compost as well, but honestly the amount of leaves is far too much for many property owners to handle. If you don't want to burn your leaves, than depending on how much you have to deal with, having them removed by a professional service is your best option. Just be sure they too are disposing it properly.