June 5, 2012


I was floating the Huron river last weekend in one of the Cool Voyager Canoes. At the helm of the Canoe was Nature Center Naturalist Kevin. A very knowledgeable individual in his field, but even more so in what is his Park and natural world of observations.

One of the first things I noticed was how low the river was. I mean a few feet low. I understand that the river like other rivers, lakes and streams have seasons of high flow and low water levels, so I asked Kevin why we where seeing such low water levels at such an early time in the year. Although he was not absolutely certain why, he did answer quickly. There was not enough snow melt and rains in early Spring to fill the lakes and ponds that feed the river. So we where already seeing water levels that would be happening in late Fall.

I was concerned this Spring myself, when we just did not get all the heavy rains we should have and of course it was almost a snow-less Winter for S.E.MI.  I have been observing other things like the low water levels in the Huron river, all over S.E.MI. in almost every Park. Lake levels down to Fall water levels. Streams that would normally dry up by late Fall are already dry. Even some of the natural spring fed ponds are half their normal sizes and shrinking.

The lack of snow & Spring rains have not replenished the underground aquifers that feed many small ponds and streams through out the area. These in turn feed water and life to the larger lakes and rivers. It is of course a very interconnected system and life in the natural world.

A fact that I never forget is something told to me many years ago, and that is…..Nothing we humans consider “alive”, can be alive without water. That means even the smallest of microbes. All need the miraculous life giving nectar of WATER.

Nature has a way of making a limited amount of adjustments. Like the fact that many plants that bloom later in the year are  already blooming now. Birds who may nest in early summer, have already started their nests and layed their eggs. But it is the timing mechanism here that is of great concern. Just like our human society has many interconnecting features that all depend upon one another, so does the natural world.

If a bird has it’s young to early in the season, and that bird depends on the hatching of a certain insect species to feed their young at that time of season, and this hatch did not take place at it’s normal time, because of water levels in a forest pond, then it is a dramatic situation for the new youngsters in that nest.

When a flowering plant blooms much earlier in the season then it normally would have, due to water levels in the river nearby, and it is to early in that season to have the Bees, or insects that pollinate those flowers to be abundant and out in droves feeding on nectar and pollinating that species of plant, then that flowering plant just does not get it’s opportunity to reproduce or advance the species. That same plant maybe one of the food sources, later in the year for one of the local critters. It will not be there for that critter, as one of it’s sources of food and survival.

The “interconnectivity” of the natural world has always amazed me. The details, fine point relationships between plants, animals, birds, insects and the fauna is quite the balancing act. We humans who where happy we had such a snow-less Winter and not much rains in the early Spring, because it made our daily lives easier, have forgotten that we NEED these Winter snows and Spring rains. And NEED is the correct word here.

What will happen as we head into summer and Fall will be very interesting to observe. But that lack of water in the ecosystems, due to last Winter will also have many ill affects on just about everything in nature. Affects we may not see until next year or a few years down the road.

Look closely the next time you head our on the Trails or into one of our local Parks. What do you see that is different. It may not always be something that slaps you in the face, but rather, something subtle, or in some cases hardly noticeable. But what is it’s affect on the natural world as a whole.

WATER…..the one thing on this planet that EVERYTHING needs for life. Some life does not need sunlight, or even soil. But EVERYTHING needs WATER to live.


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