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Mark Daul: On the back porch, or out front on the sun porch

Thu, Jun 1st 2017 06:40 pm
Record-high Lake Ontario waters have also resulted in flooding in the lower river, as seen in this recent photo of the Youngstown boat launch.
Record-high Lake Ontario waters have also resulted in flooding in the lower river, as seen in this recent photo of the Youngstown boat launch.
By Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
When I was putting my Sentinel story together today, I wanted to sit on the sun porch in the front of the house so I could watch my land wash away. This is due to the extremely high Lake Ontario water levels the IJC has been telling us is only 2 inches above normal levels. (No kidding, that's what we were told.) I opted to sit in the rear of the house; no distractions.
 
News reports from the IJC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will only tell you what they want you to know, but the real truth is what you learn by living on the lake. That is where you will find the truth.
 
I could go into a whole diatribe and tell you about when all this high water started in the 1950s up to today. I know; I have lived it and my mother, father, brother and sister have lived it, too. We actually had a real beach back then until the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam on the St. Lawrence River was built for the special interests. A person could walk that beach from east to west as far as they wanted.
 
The dam started operating in 1958 (named Plan1958 then quickly updated as Plan1958DD) to provide hydropower, and to make St. Lawrence river passage easier for large ships. Naturally, the lake level rose regardless of shoreline owners (riparian's) rights. Us riparians lost hundreds of millions of dollars of property, homes, cottages, etc., over the next few years.
 
The Moses-Saunders dam started operating in 1958 to provide power and make it easier for commercial ships to ply the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes. It would allow for easy passage through the river of large ships by raising the water level behind it through a series of locks downstream.
 
Now, for the past few years, when the IJC and Corps wanted to bring the lake level up with the cock-eyed idea of Plan 2014, to accommodate bigger and heavier loads on those ships, and the demand for more hydropower. Then, ecologists jumped in and told the world the higher water levels will help the muskrat populations, amphibians, the birds, swamplands, etc. - all will prosper again regardless of shoreline property owners' demands.
 
What many news reporters and people don't realize is Plan 2014 has been in study and discussion for the past 16 years. I'll bet all the commissioners who had this pipe dream are either deceased or retired. You need to realize, when the plans like this are dreamed up, first, you need a study of the original study. Then, after that study, a discussion. Then another study is required to study that study, and this one took 16 years! That's called, "study the study delay." This was after meetings with ship owners, power brokers, marina operators, and now ecologists to save the muskrats.
 
If you want a laugh, the IJC said Plan 2014 will lengthen the recreational boating season, because it will give us longer lows, and higher highs at the beginning and ends of the season. Meaning, at the start of the boating season, the highs will start earlier and the lows will extend past Labor Day. With this, there is salvation for boaters who don't want to tick their lower motor units on a rock.
 
In another week or so, we'll be past Memorial Day and into June, and only the diehard fishermen will risk putting their boats in the water. All area boat launch ramps are dangerous and unsafe to use right now. If the water is above the sides of the launch ramp, you had better bring a stepladder so you can climb up and step down into your boat. Bring boots; you'll need them; too. Oh, bring a first aid kit in case you slip on the underwater concrete pier and crack your head open.
 
Tidbits
 
√ OK, I'll climb down from my podium, and tell you something else more related to our wonderful, free, wide-open outdoors. Last week I told you about the Baltimore orioles showing up after their migration trip back north, and saying the Hummingbirds will soon follow. The day I sent my article in to The Sentinel, my wife spotted a hummer flying right past my empty hummer feeder. I quickly went and made some sugar water for it, put it out and watched. A couple hours later, one bird, then another, stopped to have a fill-up. It just seemed like they were early this year for some reason, and I didn't expect them so soon.
 
√ By now, I suspect all migrating songbirds are back here and doing their thing. The swallows are all back digging their nesting holes in the now-exposed sand veins along the banks of Lake Ontario. And believe me, they have more choices this year than they ever did, because of the high water levels are eroding so much of peoples' properties.
 
Even the carpenter bees are showing up. Bob Reese told me his wife spotted one and had to email me: "Carol saw a carpenter bee out back. I promptly jumped up and hung the traps up. In the time it took me to hang the two downstairs on the gutters, we had an occupant in the upstairs one. Twenty-two hours later, there are eight carpenter bees in the bottle!"
 
So get your traps ready!
 
√ As sure as I sit here, the cormorants came back in hoards, and it seems there are more of them this year than last year. Hundreds and hundreds have settled down more than once, right at my waterfront, and started gulping down shiners and other shiny, unlucky fish. The seagulls circle around above them, waiting for the scraps and the wounded the cormorants leave behind. I can only imagine cormorant numbers all along the shoreline of the lake. Seagulls never dive for their meals; they eat the scraps and leftovers that are on top of the water.
 
√ According to a recent New York State Department of Environmental Conservation release, "Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experiences in any community."
 
Just do it. Get outdoors, but don't leave the camera behind. (Nor the kids.)
 
√ Turtles are on the move in New York. According to the DEC, "In New York state, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as they migrate to their nesting areas. It may take more than 10 years for a turtle to reach breeding age, and they lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, so the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local population."
 
Turtles are on the decline, and if you see any trying to cross the road, safely stop and help it on its way. Do not turn her around; she can get confused. Keep her traveling in the same direction. She is looking for some soft or sandy soil to deposit her eggs. Pick her up by the outside edges of the shell, or slide a floor mat under her and drag her to the side of the road. When you knock on St. Peter's door, you won't need a password. Just walk right in!
 
I think St. Peter will give you an award if you take a kid or someone else fishing, too. Now is the time of year they are biting really well. Have the kids pick their own worms - they are free!
 
Questions, comments, suggestions? Email Mark [email protected].

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