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It came from beneath Deer Lake

Divers Ryan Berg, right, and Jeff Johnson bring half bags filled with trash from the bottom of Deer Lake’s public access area. In back is a diver named Bruce who carries in a “Limited Sight Distance” sign. - Jim Larsen/The Record
Divers Ryan Berg, right, and Jeff Johnson bring half bags filled with trash from the bottom of Deer Lake’s public access area. In back is a diver named Bruce who carries in a “Limited Sight Distance” sign.
— image credit: Jim Larsen/The Record

It came from beneath the sea — or more exactly, the mucky depths of Deer Lake, Clinton’s only freshwater swimming and fishing hole.

“It” was specifically a road sign, still bright yellow, warning drivers of “Limited Sight Distance.”

Wherever the sign was originally posted, the sight distance had to be much better than where it was found, deep under water at the public boat launch and swimming area. Its warning couldn’t have been more true, as Deer Lake doesn’t provide much visibility, even for those diving on a sunny day like Saturday.

The sign, likely tossed into the lake by some juvenile prankster, was one of the most interesting finds by the Salish Divers, a group of seven scuba enthusiasts who set out to give Deer Lake a good cleaning.

The environmentally-oriented dive was organized by Ryan Berg, 40, who lives in Granite Falls but grew up on Deer Lake and still owns a lot there.

“This is the lake that gave me my love of being under water,” Berg said after the dive. “I loved holding my breath and diving for crawdads.”

Berg was happy to see that the bottom of Deer Lake is still crawling with crawdads and the day’s discoveries included a crawdad trap and assorted fishing lures, which they gave to an appreciative area resident watching from a wheelchair.

The divers worked in water as deep as 45 feet in spots, filling  bags with 50-year-old tin cans, assorted paddles and debris, plus another street sign, this an old white one with black letters saying “Road Closed.”

Those familiar with the price of worms might get some idea of the age of the discoveries by another sign saying, “Worms, 5 cents.” Presumably, worms cost considerably more today. The sign was found off the dock owned by Curt Gordon, a Port of South Whidbey commissioner who lives on the lake.

The divers worked from approximately 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and it wasn’t easy pickings on the bottom of Deer Lake.

“You could reach your arm up to the shoulder in the muck and it probably didn’t stop there,” Berg said.

Apparently, that’s what happens when you haven’t cleaned for centuries.

Berg said the crew pulled a giant pickup load of material out of the lake, but all but one bagful was recyclable. Gordon said he’d take care of the disposal so they left it at his place and went home happy.

“I felt overwhelmed that we’d done something really great,” Berg said.

 

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