Trails: Groomed Tuesday. Excellent condition.

At Crossroads at Big Creek , we present  an astronomy program called ” Water World”   for  children on school field trips. Like the astronomers at NASA, we use the term ” Goldilocks Zone”, explaining that the Earth is not too hot, not too cold….it’s just right….. just right for water to exist as a liquid. And that is good, because as far as we know (or, at this point, can even imagine)  liquid water is required for life.

News reports about   chemical contamination in West Virginia and drought in California convince us that water is precious. But this brutal winter, we have come to appreciate  the miracle of  liquid water. All it takes is a frozen pipe or a backed- up septic system to make one realize how much we depend on clean water. We drink it, cook with it, bathe in it, flush away waste with it.  And we so look forward to summer when we will use liquid water for swimming, boating,  and fishing.

We have been reminded that when water freezes, it expands. While this is not good in a pipe or water main, it is very good for our lakes.  When water becomes ice, it  increases in volume, so  it decreases in density. Consequently, ice  floats.  This truly is miraculous. In a lake, when the ice floats, it forms a cover on a lake, but the most of the water remains  liquid.   Below the surface, life goes on…slowly…but it goes on.  Not only that, but the ice acts like a lid, preventing evaporation.  Some researchers have expressed the  hope that this may actually help  increase our lake levels, not only  because we have lost less water this winter, but also because  the lake will be cooler this spring and  summer, so evaporation will be reduced.

A solid on the surface of  lake is good,  but solids on the bottom of the lake?  Not so much. We all know that plastic debris is a problem.  Recently, a team of researchers with the 5 Gyres Institute  found large quantities of round, plastic  grains of polyethylene and polypropylene on the bottoms of the Great Lakes. Called “micro-beads apparently look like  fish eggs and bottom-feeding fish, mistaking them for their natural food,  are  consuming them.

According to a news story on Interlochen Public Radio, “A team of scientists spent the last two summers trawling the Great Lakes looking for “micro-plastic” pollution.

“Eighty percent of the plastics that we pulled out of the Great Lakes in 2012 were little particles that were less than a millimeter in diameter,” said environmental chemist Sherri Mason.  “And 60 percent of those were these perfectly round spherical beads of plastic, and those are the ones we suspect are coming from these consumer products like facial washes, bodywashes, toothpaste.

“Mason teaches at the State University of New York at Fredonia. She says further research is showing that the plastics are migrating into the food chain,  “The impact it’s having is a much bigger question, and one that’s going to take longer to answer,” she said.

There are many big questions, such as what do the chemicals we put in our lakes do to the health of wildlife and humans. And that is the question explored in  the video: Living Downstream which is based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, PhD.

On Wednesday, March 12, at 7:00, the Door County Environmental Council will presents  Living Downstream in the lecture hall of the Collins Learning Center. The film chronicles  how Steingraber and others opposed the industrialization of the pristine Finger Lakes region, which, like Door Count, y is a tourist area  known  for natural beauty.   This  film describes  the year in which Steingraber  attempted to  break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.  The program is free and open to the public.

Liquid water is arguably the most valuable substance in the universe, but it’s also fun to play with. Saturday morning, Crossroads will bring back one of our most popular family programs. WATERFEST invites kids to play with water. …and in doing so, they will learn many of the quirky attributes of this remarkable substance. The program is free and open to learners of all ages, and participates will receive a free WATERFEST tee-shirt (size Youth-Medium Only)

If the snow is still in solid form, Friends of Crossroads will continue the Winter Recreational Equipment loans on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. If the temperatures approach the melting point or wind chills dip into the danger range, this program will be cancelled. Check our website, www. crossroadsatbtigcreek.org to check on ski trail and snow conditions.

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