Rainbow Lake cyanobacteria bloom

Water pictured here in Rainbow Lake on August 24 shows visual evidence of a dense harmful cyanobacterial bloom. Laboratory tests of the water are pending.

A handful of lakes in the high country just to the east of Jackson Hole have again been documented with potentially dangerous concentrations of blue-green algae.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Health sent out word on Wednesday that the agency has issued recreational-use bloom advisories for the following waters: Brooks Lake, Pelham Lake, Rainbow Lake and Upper Jade Lake. All are located on the Shoshone National Forest, and they’re accessible lakes that are popular with hikers and anglers.

Swimming is not advised in water that’s experiencing blue-green algae, also called cyanobacterial blooms. Although sickness in humans from ingesting the toxic water is rare, the blooms are more routinely dangerous and even lethal for domestic animals, like dogs.

Cyanobacterial blooms are generally blue or green in color. They can blend in with the water itself, but also appear as small grass clippings, scum, floating mats or spilled paint on the water surface, according to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. Blooms can last for months, and are often associated with the warmer water in the summertime.

Results of laboratory tests that will indicate how severe the cyanobacterial blooms are at Brooks, Pelham, Rainbow and Upper Jade lakes are all pending. Those waters have experienced harmful blooms in the past, and at times they’ve been severe enough to cause fish kills.

Other relatively nearby waters with current advisories include Buffalo Bill, Boysen, Fontenelle and Viva Naughton reservoirs.

People can review advisories and report blooms at WyoHCBS.org.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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