Park official: No sign that low Buckeye Lake harms rare bog


ON CRANBERRY BOG, Ohio (AP) — The unusual, shrinking bog surrounded by central Ohio’s Buckeye Lake doesn’t seem to have been harmed by the water being kept low there for over a year while work began to replace a deteriorated dam, staff from the state Department of Natural Resources said this week.

The fragile, roughly 10-acre Cranberry Bog has been shrinking for decades as the freshwater lake and waves encourage natural decomposition. When officials decided to keep the water low starting last year, natural resources officials and others worried the bog might stick out above the lake level if it couldn’t compress enough.

Visiting on Tuesday, the program administrator for the department’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Jeff Johnson, and its chief botanist, Rick Gardner, watched water squish around their boots as they walked and concluded the bog seems to be only a few inches high. They spotted no sign of significant deterioration, they said.

On the surface, there are patches where the moss on which the bog is based looked too dry, but Johnson attributed that to a recent lack of rainfall. They said the bog’s namesake plants appear healthy, as do the carnivorous pitcher plants and the grass pink orchids blooming bits of rosy color amid swaths of leafy greens.

One caveat is that much of the bog’s health depends on the acidic environment in its unseen underside. Johnson said it’s tough to guess how much longer the bog might last because there are too many factors, including changing water levels and storms and erosion that could pull it apart.

“I think the goal right now is just to maintain it as best we can, try to promote it as long as we can, and see how long it’ll stay out here,” Johnson said.

The restricted-access bog, owned by the state and managed by the Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society, is a remnant of glacial movement thousands of years ago. When the 4.1-mile earthen dam was built in the 1830s to create a reservoir, the bog mat rose and became surrounded by the water — the opposite of what usually happens. It’s designated as a National Natural Landmark.

J-me Braig, who runs the historical society, said she remains concerned about the bog’s long-term health and the possibility of trees rooting in the lake bottom and ripping the bog mat when the water rises.

Officials have agreed to let the lake fill more this summer to accommodate boating if the weather cooperates, but that hasn’t happened so far.

By sometime in 2019, the state plans to have replaced the nearly 180-year-old dam, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded is at risk of failing.

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Find Kantele Franko at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/kantele-franko.

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