Lake Ketchum Art Galleries

Life On a Lake
 (Our BLOG)

Dedicated to the Joys of Waterside Living


Blog 1, March 1-7, 2003

Blog 2, March 8-14, 2003

Blog 3, March 15-21

Blog 4, March 22-28

Blog 5, March 29-April 4

Blog 6, April 5-April 13

Blog 7, April 14-20

Blog 8, April 21-26

Blog 9, April 27-May 4


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From My Beach


Once a year, the lake monitors for Snohomish County get together—sometimes at somebody’s lake, sometimes at the Surface Water Utility offices in Everett, and compare notes. 

We are a remarkably dissimilar group that share a single interest—the biological welfare of the lake each of us lives upon. In our county, each lake is what is termed a lowland lake and has similar characteristics, the chief one of which is that it is apt to be inundated with phosphorous from nearby farms. The dairy farms are the worst, and the worst of the worst are those farms that raise milk cows. 

Lake Ketchum is one such lake and (I say this not proudly) has a phosphorous/nitrogen input that is four or five times as much as its nearest competitor. The growth of weeds and algae is so great that we must, reluctantly, treat our lake with a herbicide or else be inundated with one form of greenery or another from bank to bank. 

It is expensive to treat a lake, even a small lake such as ours, and to raise the money we have been organized into a local improvement district. We tax ourselves about $2 a front foot for our lakefront property, then hire a professional to spray the shore one or two times a year with stuff called Sonar, or floridone. 

This kills most of the weeds, including the beneficial ones, but doesn’t touch the green algae, which we learned last year was most likely Spirogyra. In fact, treating the lake for weeds may actually increase the amount of algae, which in excessive amounts may deprive the lake of the dissolved oxygen that is necessary to all life. 

Other lakes have problems different from mine. One—Cranapple—is small and deep, and has inadequate drainage. During the winter its height on the land may rise or fall by six feet. Homes and lands are subjected to flooding.  I always feel fortunate when I  hear about the plight of Cranapple, though I tend to be inadequately commiserated with on my problem with phosphorous super-abundance. 

It is a pleasant, cheerful group, though this year I was surprised by the amount of attrition. Some of the old-time monitors have moved away. Others have tired, I guess, of the amount of monitoring work that is involved and resigned. There were a number of “new hires,” or newly volunteered monitors, who seemed uniformly dedicated and eager. I liked them all immediately. 

We took time to compare notes, ask each other if the other’s lake was suffering from early algae problems, pin on name tags and peer a bit rudely at each other’s tag, immediately forgetting the new name we had been so eager to inspect. The program included a fine presentation on species of fish and the problems of managing them by the area representative from the state Fish and Wildlife. This was followed by the program’s director telling us about West Nile Disease, carried by mosquitoes from the bodies of dead birds, usually crows. It produces flu-like symptoms. Then a retired timber company executive told us about the exhaustive personalized monitoring program he had set up at his lake, Panther, on a site of a former camp. 

Perhaps he is trying to atone for historical environmental wrongs committed by the industry he spent his lifetime working in, or else he is a new “Green,” bored by retirement, and zealously dedicated to knowing and measuring his lake. His biggest accomplishment was taking nearly continuous dissolved oxygen (DO) readings throughout the year at many different depths, since Panther is several times deeper than most of the other lakes, including mine. 

He documented how lakes “turn over” in the fall, mixing different temperature stratifications and DO contents so that they all become the same, about the end of October, each year. It is quite a marvelous process and explains how lakes are refreshed in winter for the coming cycles of sunlight and growth.  All of our lakes undergo this process, of course, but we had not seen it so well explained and presented. 

The formal part of the meeting over, we settled down to more coffee and soft drinks, plus huge wedges of pizza provided by the county as our little reward. 

Enthused, renewed (as is the lake by turning over in late autumn), we settled down to more chitchat about lakes. Who says there is no free lunch?


In August my wife and I retired to the country from our home in Seattle; we owned riverfront property we intended to build on, but decided after a trial run in an old mobile home that we'd rather be on a quiet body of water, that is, a lake. The river was badly degraded, mostly by old logging activity, and the water ran clay-colored most of the year. That is, we could not count on having a clear river at our doorstep, and the attendant good fly fishing of old, during any month except mid-summer.

Our search began late in winter, and by spring we had closely examined a number of small (this was our preference) lakes in Northern Snohomish County in Washington State. One by one we decided against them, though each had its particular charm
either house or lake. Finally, a realtor we knew found a house he thought we'd like on a lake that was not known to us. When he described it to us, I immediately decided he was wrongit was not our kind of place. Mostly to humor him, we agreed to drive out to see it on a warm Saturday morning. It was new on the market, he said, and would be sold in a  matter of a few days. Ha, ha, I opined. We had heard that story before.

We saw it and fell in love it
both the lake and the house. The realtor was right. We didn't want to let it get away from us. The money was found and we bought it. The lake has seven species of fish, including rainbow trout. I was determined to catch all seven species, especially the last named, as quickly as possible.  And I did.

There we have been, on Lake Ketchum, ever since.


Same view as above, only from my house
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