Getting the Drift on Cayuga Lake

Driftwood and other debris at Stewart Park in Ithaca, NY

Accumulated debris at Stewart Park along the shore of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY

It’s quite a mess, isn’t it? Logs, branches, other plant material, and trash often wash up to the shore at Stewart Park at the south end of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY following heavy rains and flash floods in the watershed. Fall Creek and Cayuga Inlet, the two largest streams entering the lake (with the exception of the Seneca River at the extreme northern end) are channelized through the city and shoot their flood-fed pulses of muddy, debris-laden floodwaters into the lake at the farther end of the scene depicted here. Prevailing winds from the west (the horizon) tend to push floating material to the southeast corner of the lake, making a mess at what might otherwise be a nice beach.

This probably explains why the very aggressive invasive aquatic weed hydrilla has recently been found in this area, formerly thought to be confined to Cayuga Inlet where eradication efforts have been working well. This opens up a whole new dimension to the battle to keep this plant from taking over all the shallow areas of the lake and spreading to the entire Finger Lakes-Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. Find out more in this week’s current episode of Walk in the Park TV, showing here online and this morning (Sunday, 9/8/13) at 10:30 a.m. on Ithaca’s public access channel 13 (or 97.3), and again finally on Tuesday, 9/10/13 at 8:00 p.m.