Bogged Up (Not Down)
BUCKEYE LAKE – It was Lakewood High School junior Jocie Appleman’s first experience with Buckeye Lake’s unique Cranberry Bog. “I didn’t expect it to be spongy,” she said. The bog, basically a giant floating mass of sphagnum moss, is the perfect place for her environmental science class to study ph levels and how the bog’s acidity compares to the lake water surrounding it.
“The bog is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem found nowhere else,” said Lakewood science teacher Lindsey Fawcett, whose class had a beautiful day for a field trip May 12. “It’s a great place to show students how humans can directly impact an ecosystem and just how fragile the natural balance of nature really is,” she said. “It gave students a chance to make observations about something completely unfamiliar to them.”
The class project stemmed from a presentation by Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow ( BLT) Director Sharon Spahr; the Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow Watershed Group is a partnership of individuals and organizations dedicated to improving water quality in the Buckeye Lake Watershed. “ We wanted the students to learn more about environmental issues in their community and what better place than Buckeye Lake?” said Fawcett. “Sharon came into our class and told us about what BLT was and how the quality of the lake had diminished over the last few years, although it’s still a beautiful lake and it doesn’t have the issues that other lakes are experiencing.”
Fawcett said her students have learned about “eutrophication” and how farm fertilizer run-off can affect lake ecosystems. “We’ve also learned about pollution in general and conservation of our ecosystems,” she said. “We want students to come out of this class having learned to be environmentally friendly citizens.”
The students concluded that the bog is more acidic than the surrounding water. “ We learned previously that bogs are acidic in nature because of the unique plant life there,” said Fawcett. The Cranberry Bog has many unusual plants for this area, including meat-eating carnivores like the Pitcher and Sundew plants (Spahr explained that these plants’ roots can’t derive enough nutrients from the moss, so they capture insects to supplement their diets) and colorful orchids. “Students also saw the impacts of the heavy rains we’ve been having lately and just how deep the lake had gotten,” said Fawcett. “Most of them are used to seeing the lake only a few feet deep.” Some measured the lake depth to be five to six feet.
Fawcett said her partnership with BLT began when Spahr emailed Lakewood High School, wanting to involve students and staff in data collection for the lake. “I asked Sharon if she would do a presentation as a guest speaker in our class,” she said. Spahr presented a history of Buckeye Lake and explained algae issues plaguing it and, far more seriously, other Ohio lakes. She said students and staff may become “qualified data collectors” and Ohio EPA certified to take water quality data and samples to help track the lake’s progress. Fawcett said she and three students were trained and certified. Spahr secured funding for the field trip and Fawcett said she and a student plan to help BLT collect data throughout the summer as qualified data collectors. “We’ve already planned to continue the class presentation and field trip next year,” said Fawcett. “I imagine our involvement (between Lakewood Schools and BLT) will continue to grow. BLT helped me by illustrating that environmental issues can happen right here in our community.”
Fawcett said her class’ theme is that everything is connected— humans impact the environment and the opposite is true. “I think BLT is the perfect example of this,” she said. “Schools are the best place to start to accomplish BLT’s goal. They want the community to become involved in keeping Buckeye Lake an enjoyable place for future generations.”
Fawcett believes her students are beginning to understand the importance of the environment and local ecosystems. “My hope is that they take care of the lake and spread the message about how important it is to be aware of our impact on the lake and surrounding environments,” she said. “I hope that students are proud of their community and where they come from and therefore want to take care of it. Our students are the future of this community.”