The beauty of Lake Erie

Growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania, the lake was always in my backyard. Recently, my environmental investigation class took a trip to where the Cuyahoga River dumps into Lake Erie just west of downtown Cleveland. Specifically, the newer path that was dredged for the river in recent years.

Waves breaking across the barrier wall at Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH. November 3, 2019. Madison MacArthur

In this class, we continue to talk about the Cuyahoga River and the importance it plays in ecosystems it touches as it travels south and then north in its loop through Northeast Ohio. The river continues to bring stories to our attention from the towns it touches to the animals it houses.

Lake Erie is the final destination point for the Cuyahoga River, where it comes to an end in the cycle and joins the waves that shatter across the rocks.

Photo of the Cuyahoga River near The Flats in Cleveland, OH. November 3, 2019. Madison MacArthur

Lake Erie faces environmental dangers just as badly as the river, pollution continues to poison the water systems. However, Lake Erie also faces dangers beyond Cleveland’s claim of its shores.

Presque Isle is a peninsula that is the location of a state park in Erie, PA that continues to hold events and local attractions for visitors and locals alike. In recent years, the continuous rise of water levels over the seasons led to the discussion of whether the peninsula will become an island at some point.

Driving down Presque Isle in March, before the spring thaw brought waters up to the road’s edge, covering the roots of trees and lapping at the roadside. March 28, 2018. Madison MacArthur

Presque Isle continually needs to be replenished with sand as the earth is continuously worn away naturally. Other elements that accelerate the process could lead to one of the largest environmental impacts since the 1970s, the last time the peninsula separated from the mainland.

There’s a restaurant called Joe Roots Grill, named for the hermit who lived on Presque Isle in the 1800s, which closed in early October this year. I still can remember the story on the back of the menu that ended with Joe being forced off the peninsula because of health issues and dying away from the park he loved. The last line said that Presque Isle is continuing to slip away in search of the man who walked her shores; it’s a poetic thought but one with very real consequences.

Lake Erie sunset during the end of summer. August 5, 2015. Madison MacArthur

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