Sea Scouts battle HABs with native plants

From left, Brian Meerman, Nate Cullinan and Jack Rodman prepare to plant Blue Flag Iris.

This summer with its record number of 90-plus degree days, the Bay Village Sea Scouts have sought ways to minimize the toxic blue-green algae which cause Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) to form in Lake Erie. If you are a boater or enjoy swimming in the lake, you have probably seen the dirty scum that appears on the surface of the water, particularly after a storm. Factors that contribute to HABs include: excess phosphorus from fertilizer, animal waste, warm temperatures and sunlight. 

One of the reasons that the HAB problem has escalated is because the severity of rainstorms has increased over the last few decades, according to a recently released report by Environment America Research and Policy Center. For example, on July 27, 2012, Bay Village had 1.2 inches of rain in just 15 minutes. With a light rain, fertilizer will soak into the ground, but with a heavy downpour, fertilizer is flushed off of lawns and eventually reaches Lake Erie in storm water runoff through the sewers and creeks.

To reduce phosphorus, a publication by Ohio Sea Grant recommends “maintaining native plants along the shoreline and in much of the watershed as possible. These plants are excellent filters of nutrients and are essentially maintenance free.” To this end, the Sea Scouts raised funds and purchased almost 100 plants of Blue Flag Iris, a native of the Ohio wetlands.

Iris versicolor, to give it its scientific name, has been planted by the scouts along the creek that runs through the Bay Presbyterian Church’s parking lot and along the shoreline at Spitzer Marina in Lorain. Ray Kinat, Executive Director at Bay Presbyterian, commended the scouts when he thanked them by saying, “We appreciate the concern the Sea Scouts are showing for God’s creation and are very thankful for their efforts.” 

The Sea Scouts will give a half-hour presentation at the Bay Village Green Team meeting, which will be open to the public on Tuesday, August 14, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., in the Bay Community House, 330 Cahoon Rd. The scouts will have available free seed packets of Blue Flag Iris.

This article is the second in a three-part series by the Sea Scouts. In the next issue of Observer, the scouts will give details and results of O’Tumbler, a wind-powered machine they have designed to add oxygen to the marine waters. The scouts are participating in an environmental competition sponsored by Interlux, an international yacht paint company. 

Richard Gash

Adult leader with Sea Scout Ship 41 andcan be reached at skipper@seascoutship41.org

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Volume 4, Issue 16, Posted 10:28 AM, 08.07.2012