Mobile technology has created some new opportunities for citizen scientists to play an active part in research, especially with tighter budgets. Now a nationwide project is enlisting the public to gather up-to-date information on water levels.
Credit Hamilton Conservation Authority / via Flickr
The water levels in Lake Ontario have a significant impact on the economic and environmental viability of harbors in upstate New York and Canada. As a result, a proposed plan to change the management of those water levels has raised some concerns in waterfront communities.
While we like to assign value to weather conditions, such as considering a drought being bad, John Weeks explains that in nature extreme weather is simply part of a cycle. He discusses how it is the extremes in climate that determine what vegetation grows. Drought is a gift to some life and a distraction to others. Locally, dry years are extremely beneficial to pheasants and wetland nesting birds.
Inspired by the sight of a rail bird, John Weeks discusses local marshes. These "pea soup pastures" are growing drier and drier, destroying their complex and diverse life cycle. However, when the wetlands are replenished by rain, these ecosystems can recoup quickly.
The new water levels proposal for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario has garnered some criticism from a group of state lawmakers along the lake's southern shore. This week they asked the governor to oppose the plan.
Last week, Congressman Bill Owens came out in favor of the proposal and said he'd ask for Governor Andrew Cuomo's support. Both Owens and environmental advocates say the opposition's arguments aren't based on the facts of the new plan.