A Cautionary Tale Of Good Intentions
The recent history of Lake Pinehurst would appear to be a classic illustration of the law of unintended consequences.
As described in Wednesday’s front-page piece by Walter Bull, the 200-acre lake has always served as a tremendous recreational resource for those living around it — not to mention an enhancer of property values.
It also appeared to be pretty well-balanced ecologically. It even had a reputation, according to angler Jack Wood, as “the premier fishing lake in Moore County.”
It can be that again — with a little help in recovering from the aftereffects of some good intentions that may have gone a bit awry.
Began With a Weed
The problems began a few years ago with the proliferation of a troublesome aquatic weed that began as a minor pest but grew into extensive, choking mats that clogged shallower bays, making them all but inaccessible to fishermen.
The weed infestation also lowered oxygen levels to the point that it was stifling the growth of the smaller fish species that serve as food for the game fish varieties.
The invasive vegetation was thought at the time to be hydrilla, an aggressive species that originated elsewhere and may have found its way into American waters through its commercial marketing for home aquariums. But there now seem to be doubts as to whether the invader was hydrilla at all.
In any case, Pinehurst Resort, which owns the lake, responded to the problem by ordering the spraying of the weed with chemical pesticides. This was done with the concurrence of the homeowners’ association and was thought to be the right thing to do at the time. Or if that was not the case, we are unaware of any outcry from any quarter.
Harm to the Habitat
But the chosen treatment may have ended up producing new symptoms of its own. The feed-fish breeding grounds around the edges, formerly threatened by the weed, now suffered a different kind of damage.
We started to say that this damage was manmade, as opposed to the earlier weed problem, which was natural. But things are never that simple in our modern world. The problem weed, whatever it was, no doubt ended up getting established in the lake through some kind of human activity. So one problem built on another.
As a result of the spraying, there’s little for the bigger fish to eat, and the few that are getting caught these days are looking stunted and unhealthy.
A consulting company has now done a study and is recommending a combination of steps aimed at restoring a degree of balance. They sound sensible enough. Here’s hoping they can start as quickly as possible. As a quick fix, the village of Pinehurst plans to introduce more Christmas trees, with much help from volunteers.
Although it is too easy to point fingers of blame here, this does add up to a cautionary tale that reminds us all about what can happen when you start messing with Mother Nature.
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