Community involvement is also needed to protect the nesting waterbird populations. Of particular interest is the Common Loon (Gavia immer), a rare breeder in Washington and a sensitive species ranked as imperiled in the state. More Common Loon chicks have been produced on record at Lost Lake than any other lake in Washington. While Lost Lake has historically been a successful nesting place for Common Loons, the loon population is in jeopardy. Beginning in the 1980’s, lifelong area resident Roy Visser began observing nesting loons and recording their behavior. For fifteen years, Ginger Gumm and Daniel Poleschook, Jr. of the Loon Lake Loon Association (LLLA), with the help of Patti Baumgardner from the USFS, have conducted a study of Eastern WA loons, which has confirmed lead toxicosis as a cause of loon death at Lost Lake and as the cause of 39% of all loon deaths in WA State. According to the LLLA, loons most commonly take in lead by ingesting fish on an active or broken fishing line. Additionally, when loons scoop up pebbles from the bottom of the lake to help grind their food, they can swallow lead fishing sinkers. Terns, geese, dabbling ducks, swans, mergansers as well as small mammals can also be poisoned, and the lead moves through the food chain, affecting eagles and other predators. A bird with lead poisoning cannot keep balance, breathe or fly properly, adequately eat or care for young, and often dies within two to three weeks. Just one lead sinker is enough to kill a loon.
In December, 2010, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved restrictions on the use of lead fishing tackle at 13 lakes with nesting common loons, including Lost Lake. Please help spread the word that lead-free tackle must now be used at Lost Lake, and help others understand how important this is to wildlife. Lead is also toxic to humans; a piece of lead as small as a grain of sand is enough to poison a child (Centers for Disease Control, 1991).
Click here for the 2011 WA Common Loon data compiled by Daniel and Ginger Poleschook (Excel Spreadsheet)
Another waterbird of note that has traditionally nested at Lost Lake is the Black Tern, a Category 2 candidate for listing under the endangered species act, and a bird-at-risk on the Washington Gap Analysis list. According to the Seattle Audubon Society (2008), Black Tern numbers have "decreased since the 1960s due in part to the destruction or degradation of much of their breeding... habitat." You may see these black and silver birds swooping to pluck food from the surface of Lost Lake or foraging in flight as they seize flying insects from the air. In order to nest, the Black Tern needs habitat with extensive cover vegetation as well as open water. Like the loon, the small and graceful tern nests on floating debris or near the water, making the Lost Lake non-combustible motor rule a key factor for successful nesting for both species.
The recently reestablished beaver population in the Lost Lake wetland improves wetland function. Significant increases in the water storage capacity of the wetland caused by beaver activity will not only benefit the hydrology of the wetland and the nesting waterbird and plant populations, but will provide additional water for late season flows into the Myers Creek subwatershed.
Below: Beaver dams, built beginning in the summer of 2010, hold water back, making it available during late season flows.
A wide variety of amphibians find everything they need to thrive in the Lost Lake Wetland.
The wetland hosts a healthy population of the State Candidate Species, Rana luteiventris, the Columbia Spotted Frog. This species is abundant in the Lost Lake wetland, though statewide it is ranked by the Natural Heritage Program as “Apparently Secure,” meaning that while they are at fairly low risk of extinction or elimination, there is “possible cause for some concern as a result of local recent declines, threats, or other factors.”
What Can You Do?
If you enjoy fishing, you can use fishing weights made from non-poisonous materials such as bismuth, steel, clay, rock, ceramic and tungsten-nickel alloy. Non-lead jigs and other tackle are also available.
You can find these supplies locally in hardware and sporting goods stores. If you don’t see non-lead tackle, ask for it so the store managers know you care. Many people love to see loons and other lead-sensitive wildlife while they fish. Please pass this information along to others.
Wildlife Habitat Enhancements at the Preserve
With the help of many volunteers, OHA has been steadily improving the habitat for wildlife at the Lost Lake Preserve.