Pond Lick Lake was considered for draining and abandonment. Now, maybe because of public outcry, a decision has been made to save the lake.
The lake still needs more saving. Its health and beauty are threatened. It is being polluted.
A proposal is to concrete-coat the levee to decrease the risk for dam failure and thus to decrease the risk to human life and property downstream in case of dam failure. The risk to human life is already very low; there is relatively little water in the lake now and the only two houses along Pond Lick are at the mouth of Turkey Creek, on the Turkey Creek floodplain. Turkey Creek is the main risk (also low) for flooding those two houses. Concrete-coating would do very little to further lower an already low risk.
Concrete-coating would be very damaging to the health of the lake by killing all the fish and other aquatic life with a year of draining while work proceeds. In addition to fishermen, student classes from Shawnee State University visit the lake to study aquatic life. There are three species of turtles including the rare Musk Turtle. There are newt salamanders, dragonflies, rare sedges and beautiful water lilies.
A big issue is the cost of this unnecessary work on the levee. A 2012 private engineer report estimated $1,760,000. For what little would be gained, and for so much that would be lost, this amount of money would be a waste and misuse of public funds.
The health of the lake is being damaged by sedimentation, a physical pollutant. Check dams to catch the silt are no longer being cleaned out and maintained. Logging on the watershed is increasing the erosion runoff, increasing the sediment. The latest logging bid (Contract No. 1321 for March 6, 2013) is to cut 37 acres on the Rock Lick tributary on the hillside just south of the lake. Two of the three cutting units are clear cuts which leave zero trees to protect the soil.
The hillside north of the lake is within a burn unit and is subject to possible prescribed fire which burns protective ground leaves and materials thus increasing the effects of erosion. That hillside is also available for timbering.
Sedimentation is a physical pollutant to the lake. Even more important to every visitor is the visual pollution from any logging or burning actions.
Pond Lick Lake is a beautiful lake; scenic, pretty, lovely, peaceful, quiet. People who stop there do so for many reasons. It’s a place to fish, photograph, and study, relax, unwind, renew, enjoy.
Everyone who drives by now benefits from the nice view whether it registers consciously or not. Should the far hillside ever be logged or burned, then that ugly view would definitely jar the aesthetic sense of those driving by or stopping by.
The concept of view shed, the concept of visual aesthetics as a value to humans, these are not being taken into account in the management plans for actions around Pond Lick Lake.
Logging on Rock Lick would leave a long-lasting, visually polluting scar on the hillside. The bid calls for removing 4,265 trees. During the logging period there would be audio pollution from chainsaws and skidders and haul trucks.
So, just because Pond Lick Lake is still alive, that does not mean it will be allowed to be healthy and beautiful. It still needs saving from the destructive, polluting actions from the state.
Shawnee State Forest belongs to everyone, not just loggers. Everyone needs to tell Forestry and elected legislators what they want - health and beauty for the forest as well as health and beauty for Pond Lick Lake.
Barbara A. Lund, member of Save Our Shawnee Forest