Salem Lake, A Hydrologic Modification
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This Earth Cache is only accessible by boat in order to experience this Earth Cache from a unique and fun perspective. It will take you out on Salem Lake, which was created by a man-made hydrologic modification.
Salem Lake Park allows kayaks, canoes, and small motorized boats up to 50hsp.
They have canoes and non-motorized john boats for rent April - October. They only allow 2 people per rental canoe per City Regulations.
Jet skis are not allowed on the lake.
Salem Lake is a 365-acre municipal water source reservoir for the city of Winston-Salem and surrounding Forsyth County. The reservoir was created by the original dam built in 1911 across Salem Creek. The third Salem Lake dam, built in 1931, is still in operation, holding back one billion gallons of water, or 30 percent of the city’s drinking water. The dam created a 365-acre lake. Surrounding the water sits another 1,400 acres of parkland, chiefly wooded.
The wooded area is a riparian zone, which is an interface between the land and a stream, river or lake. Riparian zones are significant because of their role in the hydrologic cycle, soil conservation and influence they have on aquatic ecosystems. Riparian zones occur in many forms including grassland, woodland, or wetland. These zones are important natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from excessive sedimentation, polluted surface runoff and erosion. Essentially, it is the watershed area. They supply shelter and food for many aquatic animals and shade that is an important part of stream temperature regulation.
Water is essential to life. Without it, the biosphere that exists on the surface of the earth would not be possible. Earth is covered by one of our most precious resources, water. However, almost 93% is locked in the oceans, toxic to humans and many plants and animals. How do we obtain fresh water resources then? Where does drinkable water come from? To understand, we need to turn to the Hydrologic Cycle.
One special characteristic of water is its ability to change state very easily under Earth conditions. It can be found readily on the planet in all of its three forms, solid, liquid, and gas. These forms also play a great part in the hydrologic cycle. Now, exactly what is the hydrologic cycle? The hydrologic cycle takes place in the hydrosphere. This is the region containing all the water in the atmosphere and on the surface of the earth. The cycle is the movement of water through this hydrosphere from the Earth to the atmosphere and back to Earth again.
The process begins with condensation. It’s when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses to form clouds. Eventually, when the clouds can’t hold the moisture any longer, precipitation happens. Then, infiltration occurs when precipitation seeps into the ground. This depends a lot on the permeability of the ground. Permeability is the measure of how easily something flows through a substance. The more permeable, the more precipitation seeps into the ground. If precipitation occurs faster than it can infiltrate the ground, it becomes runoff. Runoff remains on the surface and flows into streams, rivers, and eventually large bodies such as lakes or the ocean. Infiltrated groundwater moves much in the same manner as it recharges rivers and heads towards large bodies of water. From all this water, evaporation occurs changing the water into vapor in atmosphere.
Before human modifications, water naturally went through many different naturally occurring riparian areas before reaching waterways like creeks, streams, rivers and natural lakes. Man has since come along and made hydrologic modifications, working around this natural flow, and forcing water more directly into man’s desired waterways. Where the boundaries of a water flow path are close together, a dam may be built. The dam built on Salem Creek, creating a large reservoir, Salem Lake, is a hydrologic modification and is still a part of the hydrologic cycle. Depending on rain fall, the amount of water passing over the dam will vary.
Thank you for your interest in this Earth Cache and I hope you enjoy your day on the lake!
Developed by a Platinum EarthCache Master
To receive credit for this Earth Cache, you must paddle to the posted coordinates out into this man-made hydrologic modification to answer the following questions. The dam will be on your left. Answers via email only. Logs with answers posted in them will be deleted immediately.
The ONLY authorized place to launch a boat is from the Salem Lake Marina. Boaters must check in at the Fishing Station before launching their boat. Please observe hours of operation and all park rules!
1. Take and post a picture of yourself in your boat along with your GPSr with the Salem Lake Marina in the background. A portion of your boat must be visible in the picture.
2. What topographical features do you see around the dam? Why do you think the dam was built where it was?
3. Estimate the width of the dam.
4. Evaluate the current hydrologic cycle occurring on the day of your visit. What are the conditions?
5. What characteristics do you observe about the water in Salem Lake? Clarity, pollutants, surface conditions, etc.
The picture MUST be uploaded immediately after posting your log AND the answers to the questions MUST be sent within a reasonable amount of time on the same day as you claim your smiley. All logs not complying will be deleted without notice. As of 7-30-09, I will no longer send out reminder emails asking for the information.
[The dam will be on your left as you paddle out to the posted coords.]
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum