Last week a friend of mine and I were out searching for Snowy Owls, since there were several reported sightings in the Braddock Bay area. After a couple of hours of searching, we found no owls. We walked along a boardwalk overlooking Braddock Bay where we saw all the usual cattails. It was early morning and they were backlit so we took a few shots.
They do look nice, glistening in the morning sun. They provide protection for birds and animals; beaver and muskrats rely on them for building shelter and as a food source, respectively.
I’ve never given much thought to cattails until I heard a subsequent report about continued funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It includes monies to remove a large part of the cattail stands along Braddock Bay.
It turns out they are an invasive species that displace many other plants vital to the eco-system. As is so often the case, we have fostered cattails with fertilizer run-off and maintaining low lake levels. The plan now is to raise the lake level 2 1/2 inches, which doesn’t sound like much, but will have a great impact on coastal residents during storm surges.
This is yet another example of how so much of our collective activity has unintended consequences.