Donít Mess With Mother Nature, She Strikes Back

Recently someone posted a picture taken from the air of the Cuyahoga River emptying into Lake Erie in Cleveland that was taken back in 1967. The picture shows the Cuyahoga River as a rust colored river spreading a rust colored plume into Lake Erie..

I remember the days of fifty years ago very well. You wouldn’t dare eat any fish caught in the Cuyahoga River or in Lake Erie off Cleveland. You couldn’t swim at any of the beaches near Cleveland on a hot summer day unless you wanted to place your life in danger. In June 1969, Cleveland gained national attention when the Cuyahoga River caught fire and destroyed a railroad bridge. But that 1969 fire wasn’t the first or the largest fire on the Cuyahoga River. A fire in 1952 was much larger and did more damage.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lake Erie was declared “dead” and became the butt of comedian’s jokes. The once booming Lake Erie fishing business was dead and people were afraid to eat any fish caught in Lake Erie.

At the same time, I also remember the smog alerts that were frequent in Cleveland back in those days. Smog alerts were very common in late summer and fall when cold air aloft trapped particulate matter and pollutants near the ground. There seemed to be an orange haze over the industrial valley and into many residential sections of Cleveland. I remember being at a public hearing on air quality standards where an old man dumped a large can of soot on the table of the board telling them that it was taken off the side of his house downwind of the industrial valley.

Also during that period, many raptors were scarce and some were considered endangered. Bald Eagles, the national bird and symbol of the United States were placed on the Endangered Species List. Hawks were scarce as well. This was because the use of the pesticide DDT caused their egg shells to be very thin and led to nesting failure. The United States and Ohio were in danger of losing a lot of our natural wildlife.

Then in 1972, a couple of things happened that had a very large effect on Lake Erie as well as the nation. In 1972, congress passed and President Nixon signed into law the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the bill establishing the Environmental Protection Agency empowered with setting regulations on pollution and enforcing those laws and regulations. Those acts plus an increased awareness by the public on the environment helped turn the corner on pollution and the destruction of our environment. In addition that same year the United States banned the use of DDT.

Fast forward more than forty years to the 2010s. Lake Erie is much cleaner. The Lake Erie commercial and sport fishing business is booming. Lake Erie perch and walleye are popular dishes in many restaurants. The Cuyahoga River Valley between Cleveland and Akron is now a national park (and one of the most visited). Smog alerts are rare and some years pass without one being issued.

In many places along the shores of Lake Erie Bald eagles are common sights. Hawks and other raptors are common sightings along our roadways and fields. We have made a lot of progress since the “good old days” of fifty years ago. Now it is possible to swim on the beaches near Cleveland on a hot summer’s day.

Sure we have problems with Lake Erie such as the algae blooms in late summer that rendered Toledo’s water supply unfit to drink a few years ago. There are problems with invasive species not native to the Great Lakes region such as the Asian carp that could threaten the Lake Erie ecosystem. But if we could solve the problems we faced fifty years ago, I am very confident that we could solve those problems facing us today.

But perhaps the greatest danger to the Great Lakes and the nation is coming not from industry or some foreign government. It is coming right from our own government in Washington DC. The budget submitted by President Donald Trump to congress calls for drastic cuts in key programs that protect our Great Lakes and environment. Among them are the ending of the Great Lakes Restoration Project that provides money for cleaning up of the Great Lakes and monitors pollution on the Great Lakes. The budget of the EPA has also been slashed and one congressman has introduced a bill that calls for the elimination of the EPA.

Another very bad budget cut is the elimination of the Sea Grant Program that funds studies on the health and ecology of the Great Lakes. Those studies measure progress in cleaning up pollution as well as how to deal with the problems facing the Great Lakes right now. Together those budget cuts could have devastating consequences for those living along the Great Lakes.

These short sighted budget cuts MUST BE STOPPED! There is a song by Pat Dailey, that goes “the Great Lakes are a diamond on the hand of North America. Brightly shining jewels rolling to the sea”. Lake Erie is perhaps the greatest natural asset to Ohio and certainly to Cleveland.

My undergraduate degree is in ecology and one of the things that I learned was that it is not nice to mess with Mother Nature because Nature always strikes back. 

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 2:42 PM, 05.02.2017