Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

Wishing You an Ecologically Safe and Healthy New Year

These are the key activities and topics being addressed by the Highland Lakes Ecology Committee in 2013. The committee meets on the second Thursday of every month in the Lake Room. These meetings are open to all members of HLCC and we also encourage participation and presentations by other experts from outside the Club membership.

This year we plan to focus on the following topics which pertain to the improved ecological health and safety of our lakes and watershed areas:

  1. Managing the Canadian Geese population
  2. Encouraging better septic system maintenance by all homeowners
  3. Reducing storm water and chemical runoff into the lakes and watershed
  4. Reducing the likelihood of introducing invasive species

Here are some of the suggested ways in which each of you can contribute to our success.

Canadian Geese

As you probably know the club staff takes various actions to reduce the number of geese residing in and around our lakes and they will continue to do so. Unfortunately, our club and privately owned properties provide an attractive habitat for these beautiful, but highly polluting and stubborn creatures, and consequently they are not very cooperative in finding new residences. Under NO circumstances should you intentionally feed the geese, and since they prefer to graze and defecate on green lawns which surround lake front properties, it is also important to modify your landscape to make it less attractive for them. You can do this by minimizing the size of your lawns by replacing some grass with natural ground covers and by planting bushes directly along the waterfront. The added benefit is less grass to cut and fertilize (with phosphate free fertilizers, of course). You could also build an almost invisible goose fence by installing monofilament fishing line across most of your lakefront border.

Septic Systems

Some of our neighboring lake communities have instituted ordinances that require homeowners to pump their septic tanks on a regular basis. Also, as many of you have probably observed, it’s difficult to sell a house in Highland Lakes if you haven’t recently replaced and/or routinely maintained your septic system. We therefore encourage all of our members to have their septic systems inspected and pumped regularly. Routine pumping will save you money in the long run and will minimize damage to your private property and the lake environment. The Ecology Committee is inviting septic system experts to attend our meetings to provide guidance and explain system alternatives. The first such presentation will occur at our next February 14th meeting. For additional guidance on septic systems, see a “Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems.”

Minimizing Runoff

This is a never-ending and challenging task in our community; however, there are several things we all can do to minimize the impact on our lakes. As mentioned previously, planting bushes and reducing lawns along lakefronts will help by absorbing some of the runoff which typically contains nutrients, chemicals, bacteria, grit, and salt all of which damage the water and increase the need for us to treat the lakes with other chemicals. You also can attempt to redirect storm water runoff using various techniques commonly used on sloping trails. The Ecology Committee will be using these techniques to minimize runoff at selected locations along our lakes. If you would like to learn how to do this, please join us at our meetings and as we do the work at these locations. Other major sources of damaging runoff are paved driveways and parking areas. Impervious asphalt driveways often provide an easy path for contaminated water to rapidly enter the lake. In addition these driveways are often sealed with toxic chemicals which we encourage you NOT to use. Coal tar based sealants should NEVER be used since they contain high doses of a carcinogen known as PAH.

Stop Invasive Species

You may have noticed the new invasive species sign (Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers) at the Clubhouse boat ramp. More of these signs will be installed at club owned boating access points along our lakes. The goal is to increase member awareness of the need to carefully inspect and clean your boats and trailers when entering and leaving the lake. There are several types of invasive species already in our lakes, but there are others that are even more dangerous, which we MUST avoid by following the guidelines posted on these signs. The Ecology Committee has been supporting the distribution of leaflets that depict some of the species which we need you to help us identify and report to the club office if you see them in our lakes or on our boats/trailers.

Have a safe and healthy year!
Bob Reffelt, Ecology Committee Chairman

 

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