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Nature gives . . . and takes away PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:46

Lake Michigan is rising, thanks to nature, which is a better steward of the Great Lakes than man, even though it’s taking away some of our beaches

When Port Washington’s south beach was opened to the public several years ago, a sign advising “End of Public Beach” was posted at the south limit of the beach. The sign was placed at the base of the bluff about 25 feet from the water’s edge. Today, lake waves lap at the sign post. The sign didn’t move; the lake did.

    The shrinking of Port Washington’s public beaches is a graphic measure of the remarkable rise of the Lake Michigan water level in 2014. The lake is 14 inches higher than it was one year ago. The Army Corps of Engineers Lake Survey estimates it will rise another inch by this time in August.

    This is a good thing, of course. In recent years, Lake Michigan was literally wasting away, to the point where in the winter of 2013 it reached the lowest level ever recorded. The Great Lakes are the world’s most important source of freshwater; the fast falling of their water levels represented nothing less than the loss of a precious resource.

    Yet even good things can come with consequences. Disappearing beaches and shore erosion come with high water. Port’s gorgeous north beach is less gorgeous this summer because it is about half of last year’s width. And the south beach can’t be walked on with dry feet when the surf is up, a reminder that in high-water times of the past the beach south of the power plant pretty much ceased to exist. Waves crashed on the clay bluffs and what beach remained was made of stones instead of sand.

    One of the coldest winters on record, which blocked evaporation of lake water by covering more than 90% of the surface of the Great Lakes with ice, followed by a cold, cloudy, wet spring, account for this summer’s higher water. No one knows whether this is a trend, but there certainly is room for the water to rise: The lake level is still below its long-term average and is more than 3 feet lower than the all-time high recorded in 1986.

    This year’s water-level jump caught the Lake Survey and other lake watchers by surprise, which reminds us that humans don’t get to decide how high or low the lake goes. They can influence it, as the Army Engineers did when they flubbed a dredging project by creating an enormous outlet at the foot of Lake Huron that lets Lake Michigan-Huron water gush into the St. Clair River. The outlet accounts for several inches of lost lake level each year, and must be fixed, but compared to nature’s effect on the volume of water in the lakes, it’s small stuff.

    It’s a good thing humans can’t regulate lake levels. Judging from their performance in the aspects of the Great Lakes they can control, they would surely mess it up. Even after efforts to limit pollution by sewage and industrial effluent have been largely successful, non-point pollution continues to foul lake water. Water quality at Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan beaches is among the worst in the nation. And among the worst of the worst is the lake water at Harrington Beach State Park in rural Belgium, a result mainly of agricultural runoff.

    You wouldn’t know the water off the beaches has high levels of E. coli by looking at it, because it is crystal clear; in fact, shockingly clear, probably clearer than at any time since melting glaciers filled the lakes. Researchers have reported seeing the bottom of Lake Michigan with the naked eye from vessels floating in water 100 feet deep.

    The pellucid water is the result of filtering by invasive saltwater mussels. First came zebra mussels in the ballast water of ocean going ships, and nothing was done to stop them. And then came the bigger, more destructive and now more numerous quagga mussels, which also have had a virtually free pass to the lakes. The creatures clarify the water—every drop of water in Lake Michigan, scientists have said— by sucking the plankton out of it. The destruction of this food source has all but eradicated one of the most important human-food fish in Lake Michigan, the yellow perch.

    The mussels are still coming, perhaps soon to be followed by the next big invasive threat, the Asian carp that ecologists say could wipe out the surviving native species. While the monstrous fish mass behind a likely-to-fail electronic screen in the Illinois waterway, the fail-safe solution—closing the outlets of the Chicago canal system to Lake Michigan—gets nothing more than lip service.

     We may have some gripes about the way Mother Nature handles the ups and downs of the Great Lakes, but compared to how humans are dealing with their part of management of the lakes, she’s doing just fine.


 
Henry Klingelhoets PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 19:13

Henry F. Klingelhoets, 91, of Harbor Club in Port Washington, died Monday, June 30, at Aurora Medical Center, Grafton.

Visitation will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, at Eernisse Funeral Home, Cedarburg, followed by a brief service at 7 p.m.

Burial with military honors will be at Wisconsin Memorial Park on Thursday, July 10.

Memorials are suggested in lieu of flowers.

 
Now it's our game too PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 14:53

Seeing U.S. citizens reveling in the excitement of the World Cup is a blow to soccer deniers who can’t abide Americans enjoying a sport we didn’t invent

Isn’t it nice to see how Americans have joined the rest of the world in enjoying the sport of soccer with our enthusiastic following of the World Cup?

    To most of us, maybe, but to others the fact the World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and Portugal was the most watched sporting event of the year here not counting NFL games is a cause for worry. Pundits who seem to be members of a soccer deniers club see it as a sign that soccer is threatening the American way of life.


    The Wall Street Journal ridiculed World Cup soccer as a sport undeserving of having American fans on the grounds that players on some teams are known to fake injuries. The editorial did not mention the fact that faking injuries is so prevalent in American professional football that the NFL has had to threaten teams with fines, suspensions and loss of draft choices to control it.


    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s conservative columnist, Christian Schneider, weighed in with an amusing claim that U.S. sports fans are turned off by soccer because “it doesn’t conform to our values of equal opportunity.” See, he wrote, it’s not fair that a team that dominates play and doesn’t give its opponents opportunities to score usually wins. Or something like that.


    The headline over that column read, “Why soccer hasn’t caught on in America.”


    Hasn’t caught on? That may be part of the deniers club manifesto, but it has no relationship with reality. In the less than 40 years since a concerted effort was made to introduce American children to soccer, it has become the second most played sport by children and youths.

    More than a game, American youth soccer has grown into a culture that captivates broad sectors of communities with the enjoyment of watching boys and girls develop stamina, skills and appreciation of team play in what is probably the most athletically demanding of all ball sports. It’s all on vivid display in the cities and villages of Ozaukee County.

    Fed by this ever-growing “farm club” of soccer players starting in the primary grades, high school and college soccer is thriving and Major League Soccer, the professional game in the U.S., has acquired millions of fans, passing hockey to become the fourth most popular pro sport.

    Is soccer going to displace pro football as America’s favorite spectator game? Of course not. The brand of football played by large people covered with pads is our game and we love it. Nor is soccer likely to surpass baseball and basketball any time soon. The point is—it’s here and there is plenty of room for it in this big country with eclectic tastes in sports.


    To the folks in the soccer deniers club, that’s a problem because, unlike the big three sports, America didn’t invent soccer. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with 250 million players in more than 200 countries, but it’s not American, and elevating it to a major American sport is seen as a threat to what nationalistic types like to call American exceptionalism.


    As was painfully obvious in the Milwaukee newspaper column, some Americans have trouble understanding soccer. Maybe that’s because what the rest of the world calls football (or futbol) has so little in common with the American game of that name. A pro soccer game consists of 90 minutes of playing time. That’s real time—the ball is in play and players are running, tackling, kicking and heading for an hour and a half. Minutes are added at the end of each half when needed to make up for the time that play is interrupted for injuries or other reasons. In comparison, the actual playing time of an average three-hour NFL game is 11 minutes. It’s not surprising there’s a culture gap.


    Many American kids have no problem crossing that gap. They’re the ones who are wearing jerseys emblazoned with the names Ronaldo and Messi and others in the pantheon of the world’s greatest soccer players and watching World Cup games and knowing exactly what’s happening on the pitch.


    Soccer deniers wring their hands over Americans following 200 other countries in enjoying soccer. The rest of us can be happy that we’ve finally learned to appreciate the world’s sport.


 
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