Lower Erma Bell Lake
- Lane County)
(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985) Lower Erma Bell Lake lies in the forested plateau area encompassed by the Waldo Lake Recreation Area, a management unit of the Willamette National Forest. The string of Lower, Middle and Upper Erma Bell Lakes is a back-country destination visited frequently throughout the summer. The name Erma Bell is in honor of a National Forest Service employee who died in an automobile accident in 1918. This volcanic terrain north of Waldo Lake has been modified by glacial action which has left numerous pockets in the surface, many of them occupied by small lakes such as the Erma Bells. The glacially carved valley in which the lakes sit is occupied by the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Lower Erma Bell is a rock-rimmed, circular lake surrounded by a thick forest of Douglas fir and western hemlock. Middle Erma Bell Lake, located just 200 yards to the south, provides a noticeable primary inflow as water tumbles down the 100 foot difference in elevation between the two lakes. The lakes are stocked annually with rainbow trout and also support a population of native trout.
The data presented in this report pertain only to Lower Erma Bell Lake. It is quite deep for a lake this small. The bottom slopes down steeply, providing only a minimal amount of shallow water and very little growth of macrophytes. Concentrations of dissolved ions are low, yet somewhat higher than in other nearby lakes, for example, Mink Lake and Waldo Lake. Nutrients are low and the development of plankton is therefore sparse, although algal blooms have been reported in both Lower and Middle Erma Bell. Water transparency is excellent and the pH of the water is slightly acid, both characteristics of dilute, unproductive waters. There is some oxygen depletion in the stratified hypolimnion; however, by all other measures Lower Erma Bell Lake is distinctly oligotrophic.