This past weekend I traveled up to Lake Erie and Put-in-Bay. Along the way and while on South Bass Island I had the chance to talk to many farmers and the consensus was the same: The lake looks terrible, smells terrible and is just plain terrible.
It is a frightening thought to think that all of Lake Erie could be as bad as Grand Lake St. Marys. Even though that is not the case if you live, work or play in the Western Lake Erie watershed or basin; forget-a-bout-it, it’s toast.
Even though it was a very hot and humid August day, you would expect more people seeking relief in the cool waters this Great Lake provides. But that was not the case. I was totally disgusted with what I saw. (And this is from a guy who watched the Cuyahoga River catch fire and lived though the mercury-poisoned fish scare of the late 1960s.)
The activity this time of the year was way down. Very little fishing activity — either on boats or from the shoreline, and very few recreational activities, too. And when we arrived at Put-in-Bay via the Jet Express, I was shocked at the sparse number of watercraft docked there. A time when normally almost every spot in that port is taken and boats are on top of each other, the craft were remarkably few and far between.
The time spent on South Bass was fun — the activities were plenty — and what would normally be long lines getting into various establishments, many welcomed us with no cover charge and available seating.
My family had a great time. I know I did. But I couldn’t help but feel a check in my spirit regarding the lack of people and the possibility of greater loss if we don’t do something about this massive water-quality issue now seeping into our largest fresh-water resource in the state.
There was a distinct difference between the algae bloom at Put-in-Bay versus Port Clinton — but like the amount of Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian workers on the island, the bloom is just getting bigger.
The fishing industry has been particularly hit hard. According to Lake Erie locals, the perch have set sail for colder, cleaner waters and the walleye have moved farther northeast.
The wineries in that part of the state seem to be doing fine. Many of the crops including the grapes on South Bass have done well to provide their producers a great crop, and let me tell you the wine they make tastes great, as always.
Other field crops in that area look like the rest of the state — a potpourri of conditions that seem to represent what we are all anticipating: a very poor corn crop and maybe average soybeans.
So, while much of the farm- and agriculture-related activities and businesses my be suffering, some are doing OK. But, you would think with fewer people spending time on the islands the local establishments would lower their beverage prices, just a little (LOL). “Bostrovia, comrades!”
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is the owner of Wilson 1 Communications. He is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for over 30 years and the co-host and producer of “In Ohio Country Today,” a nationally recognized television show, and offers radio commentary and ag reports including locally for 92.1, the Frog WFGF Lima.