Searching for Salamanders at Old Nuke Site

  • Salamanders are a good indicator of wetland health. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Government workers are slogging around in man-made wetlands.
looking for salamanders. Back in the 1950’s, the United States government
selected a plot of land to be the home of its newest uranium processing plant.
Since the end of the Cold War, the now-closed nuclear processing plant has
been undergoing the long and arduous task of returning to its natural wetland
state. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tana Weingartner reports on the search for salamanders at the site, and why
their presence is so important:

Transcript

Government workers are slogging around in man-made wetlands looking for salamanders. Back in the 1950’s, the United States government selected a plot of land to be the home of its newest uranium processing plant. Since the end of the Cold War, the now-closed nuclear processing plant has been undergoing the long and arduous task of returning to its natural wetland state. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tana Weingartner reports on the search for salamanders at the site, and why their presence is so important:


It’s a cold, windy day in late March as specialists from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency head out to check their traps at the Fernald Nuclear Plant. The 1050-acre facility sits in a rural area just 18 miles north of Cincinnati. Although the EPA is in charge of cleaning up the uranium contamination here, today they’re on a different mission. Today they’re hunting salamanders.


“Salamanders basically are a sign of an established wetland usually, and in this case would show that we put a wetland in a location where salamanders need additional breeding habitat.”


In other words, Schneider says the presence of salamanders indicates the first level of success for these manmade wetlands. The wetland project is one of several ways the EPA is ensuring Fernald is properly restored to its natural state.


“Well, we’re looking forward to the day when we get the site cleaned up, and it can be like a land lab, and people can bring kids out here and do environmental education on the importance of wetlands, and it’s going to make a great contrast with what used to be here and the environmental contamination with the environmental benefit the facility is providing down the road.”


Today, the site is 70 percent certified clean, and officials expect to finish the cleanup by June 2006. Creating healthy wetlands full of insects, amphibians and salamanders is one of the first steps to success.


“So the method here is to set ten traps equidistant, hopefully, around the perimeter of the wetland. And they’re passive traps, whereby animals that are moving over the course of the 24 hours or so that the traps have been in, will bump into the traps and it’s a funnel that directs them into the center part of the trap, and they’re held in there until we release them.”


(splashing sound)


Schneider and his team laugh and joke as they pull the traps up by brightly colored ribbons. Train horns and construction noises mix with bird calls – one a reminder of what has been, the other a sign of what’s to come.


“That’s probably a one-year-old bullfrog there and then these big guys are dragonfly larvae and these other guys are back swimmers. Mayfly larvae and dragonfly larvae are both good indicators of high water quality.”


The third pond, or vernal pool, turns up 46 tadpoles and a tiny peeper frog, but no salamanders.


(truck door slams)


So it’s back in the truck and on down the dirt road to where several more wetland pools sit just across from the on-site waste dump. That dump will be Fernald’s lasting reminder of its former use. These pools are younger and less established, but they do offer hope. Last year, adult salamanders were found in the one closest to a clump of trees.


Each spring, as the snow melts away and temperatures rise, salamanders venture out in the first 50-degree rain to begin their search for a mate. Schneider had hoped warm temperatures in late February and early March prompted “The Big Night,” as it’s known.


“So, no salamanders today?”


“No salamanders today. I think we learned a little bit about the difference between wetlands that are three years old. We saw a lot more diversity in the macroinvertebrates, the insect population, than we have down here.”


Perhaps the salamanders haven’t come yet, or maybe they have already come and gone, leaving behind the still un-hatched eggs. Either way, the team will check back again in April and a third time in late May or June.


“And we have high hopes, high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes. That’s the kind.”


(sound of laughter)


For the GLRC, I’m Tana Weingartner.

Related Links

Invasive Fish Rears Ugly Head in Great Lakes

  • With its ability to breathe out of water and wriggle its way over land during dry spells, the media has dubbed the northern snakehead "Frankenfish." Its appearance in Lake Michigan is scary to scientists. (Photo courtesy of USGS)

A few weeks ago, a Chicago fisherman caused a stir when he found a northern snakehead fish. The discovery set off a frantic search to find out if yet another invasive species is threatening the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jenny Lawton has this report:

Transcript

A few weeks ago, a Chicago fisherman caused a stir when he found a northern snakehead fish. The find set off a frantic search to find out if yet another invasive species is threatening the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Jenny Lawton has this report:


Just before Halloween, the so-called Frankenfish reared its ugly head… filled with sharp teeth… in Chicago’s Burnham Harbor on Lake Michigan. And it’s still a mystery as to just how it got there.


Although the snakehead is arare item in some Asian cuisines, there’s a more common suspicion amongst local experts and hobbyists. That snakehead was probably a pet that outgrew its tank, and instead of the traditional farewell down the toilet, it was set free in Lake Michigan. Free to eat through the Lake’s food web.


Local pet store manager Edwin Cerna says that’s why he stopped selling the fish years before they were banned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. He remembers one day, when he was adjusting a tank, he accidentally got in between a snakehead’s lunch and its mouth.


“He bit me in the hand… made me bleed. It hurts. It’s got a nice strong jaw and that’s why it’s so dangerous because it can kill big fish, literally cut them in half. It’s almost like a big old killer whale, like a miniature version of it.”


But why on earth would anybody buy a vicious fish that can grow up to three feet long in the first place? Jim Robinett is with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. He says he’s a fish geek.


“I gotta say, as a little fish, when you first buy them, they’re really attractive; they’re neat little animals, but they eat like crazy. They’re voracious.”


Robinett knows not to be fooled by the little guys because what happens next is the perfect plot for a B-horror movie. He says the snakehead fish grows quickly, eventually eating everything in its tank. If it doesn’t die from overgrowing that tank, its owner might be tempted to dump it into a nearby body of water where it will keep eating its way up the food chain. Robinett says that’s the fear in Lake Michigan.


“They could potentially start picking off small salmon and lake trout, which is native to these waters here, they’re not real discriminating, they’ve been known to take things as large as frogs, some small birds, even small mammals that happen to get in the way there close to shore. They’ll eat anything they get their mouth on.”


Most hobby fish don’t last long in Chicago’s cold water. But the northern snakehead is different. The snakehead is native to northern Asia, and the Lake Michigan Federation’s Cameron Davis says that makes the fish feel right at home around here.


“It’s a lot like us Midwesterners, it just kind of hunkers down and… that’s part of the problem with the snakehead is that it can live under very extreme conditions. Which means it’ll out compete those other fish, and that’s a tremendous problem.”


Snakeheads have another edge on other species. The fish guard their eggs, giving their young a better chance of reaching maturity. But perhaps the most peculiar thing about snakeheads is that they can breathe. In addition to its gills, they have an organ that works like a lung and allows it to breathe air. It’s able to live up to three days as it uses its fins to wriggle across land in search of another body of water.


But looking down into the murky waters at Burnham Harbor, Davis says we shouldn’t run screaming yet. It’s not exactly a horror film scenario.


“I don’t think that the snakehead is going to come and grab our children out of schools and eat them or anything like that. But it is a problem for those of us who like to fish for yellow perch and whitefish and some of the things that make the Great Lakes so fantatstic, could really be threatened by this fish getting into Lake Michigan.”


Other invasive species cause an estimated 137-billion dollars of losses and damages in U.S. waterways each year. Cameron Davis says simply banning the local sale of fish like snakeheads hasn’t been enough to keep the Great Lakes safe.


“We’ve got to stop imports of these kinds of fish into the United States. We can’t protect the Great Lakes unless we’re checking these things at the door when they come into the country. It’s that simple.”


Davis is pushing for the passage of the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act. The bill would allocate a total of 174-million dollars to develop new technology for identifying and eliminating the invaders if and when they arrive.


So far, local authorities ahven’t found another snakehead near the banks of Lake Michigan, but Cameron Davis says the initial find just proves how hard it is to regulate what comes into the country’s largest body of fresh water.


Standing on the dock at Burnham Harbor, Davis looks out over the dark waters and shakes his head.


“It’s just an indicator that we’re in a race against time right now. Let’s hope that if there are more than one out there, that they haven’t hooked up.”


If they have, he says, it could truly be the stuff horror movies are made of… at least, for the other fish in the Great Lakes.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Jenny Lawton in Chicago.

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PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM TAINTED FISH (Short Version)

Health and environmental agencies are struggling to find the best way to alert people, particularly women, about the risks of eating too much sport fish contaminated with toxic chemicals. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Health and environmental agencies are struggling to find the best way to alert people,
particularly women, about the risks of eating too much sport fish contaminated with
toxic chemicals. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


Some states cut budgets, including money for publishing fish consumption advisories.
It’s curtailing the efforts of health officials to tell families that children and women of
childbearing age should severely restrict their intake of sport fish.


Most sport fish contain levels of pesticides, PCBs, and/or mercury high enough to
cause neurological and mental developmental problems in children. Barbara Knuth
is a professor at Cornell University.


“Budgets are limited and until the time when resources are made available through state
governments, through EPA, even through foundations to fund both communication efforts and
evaluation and testing of those efforts to improve them, I think it’s still going to be a struggling
effort.”


Knuth says relatively small investments in information now could prevent great costs to
society and children’s lives later.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

The COMPLEXITIES OF ISSUING FISH ADVISORIES (Part I)

  • Fish is healthy food, but contamination from pollution means people should limit the amount of inland lake and river fish they eat. Photo by Lester Graham.

There are three major questions often asked when considering the environmental health of a body of water. Can you drink the water? Can you swim in it? And… can you eat the fish? Often the answer to the last question is very complicated. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has the first report in a two-part series on the fish that ends up on your table:

Transcript

There are three major questions often asked when considering the
environmental health of a body of water. Can you drink the water? Can you
swim in it? And… can you eat the fish? Often the answer to the last
question is very complicated. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
Graham has the first report in a two-part series on the fish that ends up on
your table:


Mark Ford goes fishing almost every weekday. This day, he’s at a small
marina off of Lake Michigan. He’s carrying several rods and reels and a
couple of tackle boxes with him to an old dock…


Lester Graham: “Now, what do you fish for?”


Mark Ford: “Right now, whatever bites on the hook. Basically, I fish for bass,
catfish, walleye.”


This day, he’s just testing some new gear…


“Set my drag. Too loose.”


When Ford got his fishing license, he also got a guide telling him that the fish
he eats is contaminated. All inland lakes have some level of contamination
which could include pesticides, PCBs, and mercury.


Ford has a pretty good idea about what to do to reduce his exposure to the contaminants when he eats the fish..


“Yeah, first thing you want to do is cut off all excess fat to get away from a lot of the chemical
pollutants that’s not in the actual meat of the fish. That’s where most of the chemicals lie, in the fat. So, you cut that off and get to cookin’.”


Ford’s preparation is a good start. Trimming the fat will reduce exposure to PCBs and
similar compounds that are stored in fatty tissue. And just cooking the fish reduces some of the exposure to contaminants. But if a contaminant such as methyl mercury is present in the flesh of the fish, no amount of rinsing, boiling or frying will change that.


Unfortunately, many anglers are not as well informed as Mark Ford. A study in Canada
found a lot fishers don’t understand the contaminants or what to do about them. They judge
whether the fish is safe to eat by how well it fights on the line… by the color of the
flesh… or by the clearness of the eye. None of those things is an indicator of whether a fish is contaminated by toxic chemicals.


Alan Hayton is with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. He says how much fish are
contaminated depends on the body of water. A ban on PCBs in manufacturing
has helped, although there are still decades worth of the pollutant in some lake
sediments. Agricultural pesticide restrictions and bans have helped reduce
contaminants in some other lakes.


“Well, if you want – are fish getting better or worse? Certainly over the years,
when you look at the Great Lakes, there’s been a considerable decline in the level of
contaminants in fish. Many of the inland lakes, both in Ontario and elsewhere – not
just around the Great Lakes, but elsewhere – there’s mercury in those fish. Mercury
concentrations don’t appear to be changing. They seem to be quite stable.
So, we find that in quite a high proportion of the inland lakes there are some consumption
restrictions.”


Mercury remains a problem because as coal-fired power plants release mercury
into the air… it’s brought down into watersheds by rain. There the problem is
complicated in some areas by any number of factors, including some bacteria that transform
simple mercury into the more toxic methyl mercury.


So, some bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes, have lower levels of some
pollutants, but some other contaminants are just as bad as ever. To complicate things
even more, some fish are more contaminated than others.


Faith Shottenfeld is with the New York State Department of Health.


“You know, it’s complicated because it’s going to vary from state to state, from body of
water to body of water and from fish species to fish species.”


Shottenfeld says that makes getting the message to anglers all the more difficult.
States are trying to figure out how to get the information to the people who eat
the fish, but there are very few general guidelines.


“So, I think that the best way to work your way through the complexities
is to really have a dialogue with somebody who understands the advisories and can
help you figure out what you need to do.”


But generally speaking, eating smaller fish, and limiting sport fish meals from local lakes to about once a week for men and once a month for women helps.


Angler Mark Ford says he’s not worried. He says to him, the health benefits of
fish offset the health risks of the contaminants.


“A month, I’d say I eat about twelve to 15 pounds of fish. I eat a lot of fish.
I like fish. Fish is healthy for you, too. It’s low in cholesterol if you cut the fat away from
it. It’s good brain food. That’s scientifically proven. And, if you prepare it
right, it tastes good!”


And Ford says he’s healthy. But experts indicate it’s hard to say what long-term
exposure to the contaminants in sport fish from area lakes will mean to human
health. They caution that children and women of child-bearing age should severely
restrict their intake of sport fish because the contaminants can damage the
development of fetuses and children.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

The COMPLEXITIES OF ISSUING FISH ADVISORIES (Short Version)

  • States are struggling with ways to warn people, especially women of childbearing years and children, about the hazards of eating too much sport fish contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Health officials are trying to get the word out about contaminants in sport fish. But the issue is complicated. So, it’s difficult to give people an easy answer on how to reduce the health risk. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Health officials are trying to get the word out about contaminants in sport fish. But the
issue is complicated. So, it’s difficult to give people an easy answer on how to reduce
the health risk. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


Sport fish contain contaminants such as PCBs, pesticides, and mercury. But the amount
of contaminants in a fish depends on the body of water, the species of fish, and
even the age of the fish. So, there are very few general guidelines. That makes it difficult for
health officials to tell people what’s best for them.


Faith Shottenfeld is with the New York State Department of Public Health. She says safe
consumption levels vary.


“For some fish, a meal a week, a meal a month. You certainly can talk in general
about eating smaller fish because as you move your way up the food chain, you
know, the bigger fish eat the little fish so they get more and more and more chemicals,
but there are some examples of smaller fish that are highly contaminated.”


Shottenfeld notes that children and women of childbearing age are at more risk
from ill effects of the contaminants in fish than men. She says the best bet is to talk to someone
who’s familiar with your state and area’s fish consumption advisories.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM TAINTED FISH (Part II)

The people most at risk from contaminants in fish often don’t know it. Different chemicals found in fish from many inland lakes, including the Great Lakes, can be harmful to human development. State governments issue fish consumption advisories that recommend limiting eating such fish. In the second of a two-part series on contaminants in fish… the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports that not everyone learns of the advisories:

Transcript

The people most at risk from contaminants in fish often don’t know it.
Different chemicals found in fish from many inland lakes, including the
Great Lakes, can be harmful to human development. State governments
issue fish consumption advisories that recommend limiting
eating such fish. In the second of a two part series on contaminants in
fish… the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports that not
everyone learns of the advisories:


Horace Phillips likes to fish. He can often be found casting a line into a
lagoon off of Lake Michigan on Chicago’s south side. He says he and a lot of
his fishing buddies know about the fish consumption advisories, but he doesn’t
think he eats enough to matter…


“Sure, it’s always good to know, but, as I say, I’m not consuming that much fish.”


That’s because Phillips gives away much of the fish he catches. Like a lot of
anglers, he enjoys the sport, and shares what he catches with friends and
relatives. He doesn’t remember getting a fishing guide when he got his fishing
license, but the retailer was supposed to give him one. It not only outlines limits
on the amount of fish an angler can take, but also includes recommendations
on how much fish he should eat in a given month.


But Phillips says he thinks he learned about fish contaminants from the
newspaper. He never really thought about passing on the warning to people
with whom he shares his fish.


“I suppose the same literature that’s available to me is also available to them.”


But often the people who prepare the fish or who eat the fish don’t have a
clue that there’s anything wrong with the fish.


We should note here that fish is nutritious. It’s a good low-fat, lower calorie
source of protein. Eating fish instead of higher-fat and cholesterol laden foods
is believed to help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure,
diabetes and several forms of cancer. Pretty good food, fish.


But some fish contain PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls – believed to cause
cancer. Chlordane, a pesticide, has been found in fish. And methyl mercury is
found in some fish. These chemicals can cause serious health problems,
especially for children and fetuses. They can disrupt the systems that
coordinate the nervous system, the brain, and the reproductive system.


Studies have shown women store some of these chemicals in their
fat tissue until they become pregnant. Then, those chemicals are passed
to the child they’re carrying. Studies have indicated that of mothers
who ate three or more fish meals a month, those with the highest exposure
gave birth to children with health problems.


They had significant delays in neuromuscular and neurological development.
Those children continued to show short-term memory problems at age four… and
significant reduction in IQ and academic skills at age seven.


Barbara Knuth is a professor of Natural Resource Policy and Management at
Cornell University. She says given the health concerns with eating too much contaminated fish, the information about restrictions needs to be more widely distributed.


“Where we need to focus effort now is not so much on the angler, but we need to be focusing
on the people with whom they’re sharing those fish, the women, their wives, mothers
of childbearing age, women of childbearing age, children, because that’s where we now know,
scientists now know – who are studying this – where the real health effects are.”


But where to start? After all, the fish might come from a friend… it might be at the deli… it could be on the plate at a local restaurant. There are no rules requiring a notice that fish is from a lake, or the ocean, or farm-raised. So, how do you get the word out?


One federal agency is working to get the information to those at highest risk by going through their doctor. Steve Blackwell is with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.


“We’ve taken on trying to reach health care providers that are serving the target
population, the most at-risk population of women, children, pregnant women and reach those
groups such as OBGYNs, family physicians, pediatricians with this information to help raise
awareness within that group that serves the at-risk population to try and make sure that they’re receiving the message and they’re not telling their patients something different from what the patients may be hearing outside that realm.”


Whether the doctors are actually passing on the concerns about contaminated fish is a
whole other question. But assuming they are, there’s still another concern. Many of the women who are most at risk might not see a doctor until the day the baby is due. Poor women… the very same women who might rely on fishing for a good part of their diet… might not be told
about the risks.


And so their children are born into poverty… and the added burden of chemicals that can hurt their development. Blackwell says reaching those women is something the federal government cannot do alone.


“You want to reach those people through local leaders, through churches, through
institutions that aren’t medical.”


And that’s best done, Blackwell says, by local government, not the federal
government. But state budgets are strapped. And, in some cases, states are
reluctant to raise awareness of an issue that they really can’t fix. A source within
a state agency told us that an higher-ranking official indicated to
him that he didn’t want to assign a full-time person to work on fish contamination
awareness alone because it would send the wrong political message. Another state stopped publishing fish consumption advisories as a budget cutting move… that is… until local reporters exposed that particular budget cut.


In short, warning pregnant women and women of childbearing age about the dangers of
eating too much contaminated fish and how that could damage their children’s
intellectual and physical development has not gotten enough attention yet to become a
political priority.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

Too Much of a Good Insect?

It’s no secret that the Great Lakes are cleaner than they were 25 years ago. But some of the wildlife that’s rebounded because of the cleaner water is causing some problems for people who live near the lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Paul Cox explains:

Transcript

It’s no secret that the Great Lakes are cleaner than they were 25
years ago. But some of the wildlife that’s rebounded because of the
cleaner water is causing some problems for people who live near the
lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Paul Cox explains:


(sound of waves and seagulls)


It won’t be long before a sleeping multitude awakes in the Great Lakes.
Millions of mayfly larvae have been burrowed in the muddy bottom of the
lakes. Soon, they will rise, take wing and fly off in search of a mate.


Often, they end up on shore. There they get on everything.


Breck Coombs has seen them invade the car dealership he manages in
Port Clinton, Ohio on Lake Erie.


“I have bugs all over the whole building. It’s almost like you’ve got to
have a second set of clothes when you come into work a lot of times.
You sit down and they make a big mess on your clothing. It’s pretty bad.”


During mayfly season his workers have to wash every car in the lot every
day so the bugs and their droppings don’t mar the paint.


The mayor in Port Clinton is Tom Brown. He says since the mayfly has
been increasing in population the insect has caused some bizarre
events. The way he describes it, it sounds as though it’s like living in an
Alfred Hitchcock thriller. He remembers once getting hit by the bugs
while he was at a drum and bugle corps competition.


“We were watching the show and all of a sudden I looked to the sky
and I saw a black cloud. The mayflies came onto the field, they began to
swarm. I was covered with mayflies from head to toe.”


Aside from the mess they make, the mayflies are – for the most part –
harmless. Fred Snyder is an aquatic biologist with the Ohio State
University Extension Service. He says the mayfly is a bug with no bite.


“Mayflies do not have working mouths. This is a mouthless insect. It has no stinger.”


But Snyder says the mayfly is still something of a nuisance because they
don’t smell very good.


“One evening just coming back into town I noticed a very,
very disagreeable smell. The place stunk. Sort of like dead fish, but
different. But very strong.”


And… the sheer numbers of the mayflies are a problem because the
insects not only fly by the millions, they die by the millions.


Mayor Brown says when that happens… the dead bugs can be a bit of a
hazard.


“When they were heavy we had signs on the streets: ‘Slippery, mayfly hatch.’
And there were a couple of accidents from people sliding around on those mayflies.”


As you might imagine… millions of smelly, messy and dead mayflies are
bad news for any town… but especially so in a tourist town such as Port
Clinton.


But biologist Fred Snyder say the mayflies are also good news. The huge
mayfly population means the lake is environmentally healthier.


“Mayflies have a high need for oxygen. So when you find
good numbers it tells you that the oxygen level in the water is very
good.”


It’s not always been that way. Pollution in the lake took its toll. Oxygen
levels dropped. And the mayflies almost disappeared by the 1950’s.


Dr. Carl Richards, with the Minnesota Sea Grant program, says the
presence of organisms such as the mayfly can be a better indicator of
the lake’s health than testing for polluting chemicals.


“It’s often very expensive and difficult to measure chemicals.
And the ultimate reason we’re interested in chemicals is because of
the organisms. It’s the fish, the birds and the plants we’re concerned
about. So the idea is if the fish and the birds and the plants are
healthy, then the environment must be healthy.”


And a recent federal grant will help scientists look further into the
connection between the health of organisms such as mayflies and the
environmental state of the Great Lakes.


Lake Erie near Port Clinton is not the only example of rebound in the
mayfly population. There’s also been a sharp mayfly population increase
in the waters immediately near Erie, Pennsylvania.


It’s not only good news for the mayflies. It’s good news for fish too.
Some fish feed on the mayfly larvae. So, with more mayflies, there’s
more food for fish.


But, people still have to deal with the annual mayfly onslaught. In
places such as Port Clinton, that means trying to find ways to reduce the
invasion. One thing the city does is turn off streetlights and ask
residents to turn off as many exterior lights as possible in hopes of
attracting fewer bugs during the peak season.


The mayflies that do make it ashore and die are picked up with street
sweepers and composted. In fact, the city got a grant to build the only
licensed landfill in the U.S. for mayflies. There, they compost the
carcasses. Biologist Fred Snyder cooked up the recipe.


“It’s basically sawdust that is mixed about two to one with the
mayflies that are picked up by the street sweepers and brought to
the composting site.”


After several months the mayfly compost is used for gardens and lawns
all over town.


(sound of waves)


Now, Mayor Brown is trying to convince the townspeople to look beyond
the nuisance factor and embrace the mayfly as the standard-bearer for a
cleaner lake.


“We even came up with a theme: Come to Port Clinton where
your dreams may fly.”


It might not offer much comfort to those afflicted by the annual mayfly
invasion… but hey, it’s catchy.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Paul Cox.