When snow melts, salt applied to melt snow on sidewalks, roads, and parking lots can make its way to streams. Freshwater critters don’t like living in saltwater. Are we getting to a point where they’d have trouble? Not quite, the chronic levels of concern for Iowa is 389 mg/L of chloride, and this sample (from a creek near Ames High School) and some others in our area were just shy of that last weekend. But be mindful of how much salt you’re scattering if we get some more icy days this month–people often apply more than what’s needed for safety!
The Izaak Walton League’s Winter Salt Watch is a good way for people to check on water quality during the winter and learn more about the issue.
What else is being carried in snowmelt? Our lab tests from late February are showing higher nitrate and bacteria levels than January’s tests. Check back in mid-March and we’ll get that data organized.
In my first year as the coordinator, I have enjoyed traveling on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway and seeing the seasons change. I remember how wonderful it was to see the green grass emerge and the trees starting to bud. Then later in summer, due to timely rains, the grass remained green and the crops were maturing. This fall, everything seemed to be a golden color as crops were harvested and tree leaves began change color and drop.
Today the sun is out, but the wind is howling and tomorrow’s forecast is for SNOW! We all knew it would happen sometime and I guess we should be happy we have avoided it so far. I know as an Iowan, snow is inevitable. This forecast has me thinking.
Yesterday, I was asked to submit winter photos along the Byway for a marketing program. As I looked at the photos we have on file, I began to make peace with the approaching season. Winter can be truly beautiful. There was the photo of a cottonwood stand against a winter blue sky and the crisp new white snow. Reminded me of my childhood home and the cottonwoods in our yard and along the creek.
In another picture, an older barn and the newly fallen snow looked so quiet and peaceful. I could almost hear the crunch of the snow under my feet, if I were to walk towards the barn. Compare that to the photo of people skiing at Seven Oaks near Boone. There were people in the ski lifts and parents, children, and teenagers enjoying the day. Lots of voices, laughing, and shouts to each other would fill the air. I can imagine they will be sad when that season ends and the snow melts away.
Even the photo of a random snowbank makes you stop and think how does Mother Nature make such interesting sculptures with just moisture, cold, and wind? Compare that to the photo of the snowplow blowing through large drifts on the roadway. We rely on these public servants to keep us safe while we travel whether for business or pleasure.
And the photo of the Reed-Niland Corner, still open for business. Carrying on. Won’t let a little snow stop them from serving great food and sharing the story of the Lincoln Highway with visitors.
Snow is coming. It will happen. How will I enjoy it? You know, years ago I tried cross-country skiing in Canada. I really enjoyed it. I always thought I’ d like to try it here in Iowa. Hmm. This might be the year. I know of many county and city parks around me where skiing might be possible. I just might head to the outdoor store and get setup to do that!
Let me know how you are going to enjoy this season along the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway. Whether it might be ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or even joining me in some cross country skiing, share your experiences on our Facebook page. This Byway can be enjoyed anytime of year! It has so much to offer.