A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Tess Flynn-Belles, Natural Resource Specialist, Bradford County Conservation District
Psst… hey you… yeah, you. The one wrapped up on the couch in that new blanket you got for Christmas from Grandma Tilly. It’s me, the pond out back. I know it’s cold out here, believe me! Have you looked at me lately? I have a giant sheet of ice and snow covering me. I KNOW cold! That doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a lot going on underneath it all. I’ve still got plants that are photosynthesizing, and fish are still swimming around doing their thing. There are also a lot of fun activities that you can use me for in the winter as well. Maybe you could layer up and come out and visit me for a little while? You’d be helping me and my friends out big time.
I know, I know it’s cold out there and in the winter months, most people think that “pond life” just takes a break. But really, there is still a lot going on. Aquatic plants are still producing oxygen, but because of the reduced levels of sunlight, they use more oxygen than they produce. This can cause some major stress on fish populations because they must compete with the plants for oxygen. One trick that you can use to help the plants and fish out is to remove any snow covering on the ice. This will allow for more sunlight to shine through, giving the plants more to use for photosynthesizing. You can also try drilling some holes in the ice, too! This will allow air to reach the water surface and oxygen to dissolve into the water column. This will help my fishy friends out and reduce the chance of a winter fish kill if the ice stays on into the early spring months.
Speaking of my fishy friends, one fun activity that you can use me for in the winter is ice fishing. If you’ve never tried, it’s buckets of fun… especially if those buckets get filled up with some tasty perch. I smell a fish fry!! A word of caution first, please. It is good practice to check my ice depth before you start walking on me and drilling holes. Generally, 4 inches of ice is safe to walk on and ice fish from. But, beware, ice thickness can vary over one body of water, so maybe bring a spud with you to chip away at the surface a bit in different locations. Oh, I have another idea! While you’re waiting for those tip up flags to fly, gather up some friends and family and get a game of hockey going. You don’t need skates or hockey sticks or a puck. Just use what you’ve got laying around. Brooms, shovels, tennis balls, soccer balls. Just a friendly game to get some exercise and enjoy the winter weather. And if you don’t feel like fishing or playing hockey, you can come for a visit and just observe nature. If there is a layer of snow on the ground, it is a good chance to get familiar with the tracks of any critters that are walking around. You never know, there might be a sneaky bobcat visiting me that you’ve never seen.
As much as winters in the Northeast can seem to drag on and on, there are ways to make that time more enjoyable. Taking advantage of me when I’ve got my hard top on is a good way to do it. You can help the plants and fish by providing them with some well-deserved sunlight and oxygen and help yourself out by getting outside for some fresh air. So put your layers on and come out for a visit, please. I miss you. You can even bring Grandma Tilly’s blanket for extra warmth, if you want.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District