Minutes for March 27, 2012 Meeting

Meeting Notes
March 27, 2012

Recorder: Brian DeLuca

Brian DeLucaGaret MungerBryan TothBev LarsonPhoebe MerrettKaren KoKaren SchurrSusan DeckerRichard FlemingGayle Garman

After introductions by attendees, Gayle Garman, President, noted that the Recording Secretary, Davis Patterson, was not able to attend and asked for a volunteer to take notes. Brian DeLuca volunteered and took these notes.

Karen Schurr, Treasurer, went over the income and expenditures since the last meeting, and reported account balances. FOGL accounts are at BECU. FOGL is 501(c)3 certified by the IRS and all donations are tax-deductable.

Announcements: Gayle reported

  1. Kevin Stoops, who works for Seattle Dept of Parks & Recreation (DPR) and has been a supporter of FOGL and great steward of Green Lake, has recently been promoted to Finance Director for DPR. Congratulations to Kevin, although his unwavering help and assistance will be greatly missed.
  2. At the request of FOGL, DPR saved some of the larger, straight branches from the large tree that was recently removed on the west (Aurora) side of the Lake. These will be used to separate the lake-side gravel path from the southwest “blackbird” restoration site. The logs will be half-buried along the perimeter of the path to make a natural curb and prevent erosion of the gravel toward the Lake. Because installation requires some excavation, DPR will do the work.The addition of gravel to the trail without anything to corral the gravel has resulted in the trail getting wider and wider, leaving less and less shrubbery and undergrowth at the shoreline for bird habitat. Gayle noted that the vegetation along the shoreline also captures some of the nutrients that would otherwise go into the Lake.Garet was concerned the tree had been cut down at ground level, and not left as a snag for woodpecker habitat, and wondered why FOGL had not been consulted.
  3. This winter unwashed gravel was added to the Lake-side path, and during the first heavy rain, a lot of silt washed out of the new gravel and into the Lake. Gayle recalled the Green Lake studies done before the alum treatment which showed that approximately half of the phosphorus entering the Lake was associated with soil particles.

Planning for the coming year:

Monitoring of water quality as part of the King County Small Lakes Stewardship (SLS) program has been done by Richard and Gayle for the last 7 years, from mid-May thru Oct. From kayaks, at a station where the Lake is deepest, they collect a water sample of about a half gallon, and measure temperature and water clarity. King County analyzes the water sample for nutrients that cause algae growth. Ben Hall and Scott McCready started doing this sampling last fall and Ben has agreed to do the sampling this summer, too. He would like to have a back-up person (who has a kayak).

Year-round weekly measurements of temperature and water clarity from the dock by the paddle-boat rental have been done by Jeannine Florance with help from Garet Munger and Laila Adams. These measurements are reported on the FOGL website and also to King County SLS. We need to get a new thermometer as one fell into the Lake. Jeannine could use another back-up for the weekly measurements, also.

Brian moved and the members voted to authorize spending up to $50 for two new thermometers. Garet and Bryan T. had suggestions for the purchase and are going to follow-up with Gayle.

Algae monitoring and testing for the toxin microcystin: FOGL purchased a kit to test for microcystin, the most common toxin produced by blue-green algae. Our test only indicates whether the concentration is less than, or greater than, the guideline of 6 ug/L; but the test results are ready in 12-24 hours. Samples taken by the county indicate the exact concentration, but it takes several days to get the results. Gayle has the kit and does the analysis. She would like to have a back-up and is willing to go over the details of the test with anyone interested. She noted the importance of looking for shoreline algae scums when walking the Lake and reporting them to FOGL and/or Sally Abella at King County. Photos of the scums are especially helpful.

Habitat restoration work parties on the first Sat morning of each month will resume April 7. Most of the plants that were installed last spring have survived, but both sites need weeding.   The objective is to restore nesting habitat for redwing blackbirds (southwest site) and pied-billed grebes (southeast site). Brian noted that he had seen more great blue herons this spring than before. The April 7 work party will focus on the southwest site and the May 5 work party will focus on the southeast site. For insurance purposes, DPR requires us to collect volunteer names, ages, addresses and hours worked. This is a good task for a new volunteer. FOGL work parties are from 9:00 to noon. An email announcement will be sent to the list, and Gayle will put it on the DPR website.

FOGL has had educational booths at the Cross-Lake swim and the Milk Carton boat races until last year, when we didn’t have volunteers to coordinate and work at the booths. The cross-Lake swim is the morning of the last Sunday in June and the Milk Carton boat race is all day on a Sat near July 4. Bev and Susan said they were interested and would check their schedules.

Monthly birdwalks led by FOGL volunteers have been suspended until further notice. It was noted that there is a greater variety of birds on the Lake in the winter, although in the spring we often have migrating songbirds. Green Lake in winter is good for beginning birders, because birds on the water don’t move around as much as those in the trees, the Lake is small so birds are easy to see from the trail, and ducks are in breeding plumage in the winter.

The group discussed the history of the Lake’s algae blooms and the alum treatment in 2004, and why it is important to keep monitoring the Lake. The alum combines with phosphorus, the primary nutrient driving the algae blooms, but because phosphorus continues to enter the Lake, the binding capacity of the alum will eventually be used up. The city does not plan for treatment of Green Lake. An emergency allocation of $1.5 million was made in 2004 for treatment. Brian noted whether the Lake is clear, or murky green and smelly; affects Park users, residents of the neighborhood, AND neighborhood businesses.

Also discussed was the difficulty in finding the right person to discuss an issue about Park management because DPR is organized by function; for example, gardeners, landscapers, groundskeepers, and swimming programs all answer to different people who are organized by city district, not by park, and no one is focused on the Lake. Green Lake is the only lake wholly owned by the City.

FOGL’s foremost initiative is to get DPR to assign someone to oversee and coordinate activities and land management in the Park who has the scientific understanding of how this affects the Lake. In 2006, FOGL was successful in getting a Lake manager added to the 5-year plan, for implementation in 2011, but the DPR Superintendant has changed, and the recent budget constraints have not helped. Karen Ko suggested we bring this up at one of Sally Bagshaw’s informal coffee meetings.

Richard also noted that it is challenging to have an impact because so many agencies have a role in the Park, for example, Seattle Public Utilities, Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Dept of Health, Washington Dept of Ecology, Seattle DPR, the Small Craft Center, and King County Dept of Natural Resources. Perhaps we could plan another meeting with all the agencies, such as we had in the fall of 2005?

Gayle adjourned the meeting at 9:05. The next meeting will be on April 24.