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NATIONAL PARK “SMOLENSKOYE POOZYORIYE” (SMOLENSK LAKE AREA)

НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ ПАРК «СМОЛЕНСКОЕ ПООЗЕРЬЕ»

National Park Smolensk Poozyoriye (Lake Area)

National Park Smolensk Poozyoriye was opened in 1992 for preservation of unique natural and cultural complexes and for research and stable usage of the renewable natural resources for nature protection, recreational, educational and cultural purposes.

It is located in the north-eastern part of Smolensk region on the territory of two neighboring regions: Demidovsky and Dukhovshinsky. The geographical location is: 55.21‘– 55.46‘ north latitude, 31.29‘– 32.18‘ east longitude.

By its configuration the territory of the park is almost a perfect rhomb. The maximum length from west to east is – 55 km; from south to north – 50 km. The geographical center of the park is located near Glaskovo village. In the north the park borders Tver region.

The space of the park’s territory is 146,237 hectares: 80% are forests, while 20% are agricultural fields, turf moors and numerous scenic lakes and rivers.

The administrative center of the National Park is located in Przhevalskaya village, 120 kilometers away from the region’s capital. On the territory of the park there are five drive-in entrances: two from the western side (paved) and three from the eastern side (unpaved).

The territory of the park is characterized with extremely significant variety of relief. Here, along with rare and interesting forms of relief common to marginal facies (hills, ridges, kames, osars etc.) typical to Valdai zone of glaciation, morainic and undulating planes, flat glacier-lake lowlands occupied with water basins, meadows and swamps are widely spread. The height of some of the morainic hills reaches 25-30 meters, or even 40 meters. Their biggest stretches are located between the Chistick and Rytoye Lakes, south and west of the Baklanovskoye Lake near the Sapsho Lake.

Rare marginal facies also include a ravine named “The Devil’s Gully” (near Ageyevshina village) where on a relatively small depth Mikulinskie inter-glacier sediments can be traced.

For the territory of the national park moderate continental climate with warm and humid summer, moderately cold winter with stable snow covering and distinct transfer periods is typical. Western transfer of air masses predominates.

One of the characteristics of the national park’s territory is presence of 35 big and small lakes of glacier origin, every one of which is unique in its own way.

On the territory of the national park there are no big rivers; usually they are rivers of the third and fourth or lower categories related to the basin of the Western Dvina River. The main rivers of the park are: Sermyatka, Vasilievka, Skryteika, Dolzhitsa, Polovia and Serteyka. The biggest river of the national park is the Yelsha River flowing into the Mezha River – the first big high-water tributary of the Western Dvina River. The basin of the Yelsha River occupies more than 80% of the park’s entire space.

Upper sphagnous bogs located on the park’s territory are of great value. The biggest ones among them are Vervizhsky, Pelyshev and Lopatinsky quagmires rich with berries. Vervizhsky quagmire is one of the biggest peat bogs of the Smolensk Lake area, in the center of which there are relict water basins (“oknischas”) – the Vervizhskoye, Paltsevskoye and Beloye Lakes.

The plant and animal world of the Smolensk Lake Area is multifarious.

On the territory of the park there is an interesting and peculiar section of virgin forest, which is the only area of preserved coniferous and oak woodlands in central Europe.

Around nine hundred species of vascular land plants grow in the park; 65 of them are in the endangered species list of Smolensk region and 10 – in that of Russia. In central Russia, this is the only place where growths of perennial Chiretta (Swertia perennis) have been spotted.

The fauna of invertebrate reaches up to two thousand species. For the first time in the history of the Russian fauna such species as Lumnaea fusca and Lumnaea dupuei were registered. Presence of these species of mollusks on the territory of the national park is national heritage in itself.

Fish fauna of the park includes up to 36 species of fish and fish-like vertebrates. Mainly it is representatives of the Carp genus (53-56%). Tchudskoye Lake cisco (Coregonus lavaretus maraenoides), creek trout (Salmo trutta morpha fario) are rare. Bull trout (S. trutta) and slimy sculpin (Cottus gobio) are included in the endangered species list of Russia.

There are ten species of amphibians and five species of reptiles, among which there are rare ones. They are fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina), slow worm (Anguis fragilis) etc.

Of 228 species of birds registered in the park no less than 185 species nest on the park’s territory; 67 species can be considered rare ones; 19 are included into the endangered species list of Russia. Recently stabilization and increase of the population of black storks, fish hawks, greater and lesser spotted eagles, snake eagles an others has been monitored.

The mammals are represented by 48 species: 6 of them are in the endangered species list of Smolensk region; 20 species are widely spread throughout the entire Russia. They are wolves, foxes, weasels, ermines and others. Typical steppe and forest-steppe species are represented by common voles, field mice, common hamster, European hare and others. Taiga species include least shrew, brown bear, bobcat, elk, flying squirrel and some others.

Well preserved magic land of Smolensk Lake Area not only has its own natural peculiarities but is also rich with cultural and historical heritage. 180 monuments of history and culture, some of which are of great scientific value, are located on its territory. They are numerous Neolith camps (14), sites of ancient towns (17) and settlements (14); burial mounds of Slavic Krivichi (32). The remains of one of the most mysterious ancient Russian cities that prospered from IX until XVII centuries on the trade route from the Varangians to the Greek – Verzhavsk – are also here. The history of this land has to do with the name of a great traveler, researcher of Central Asia N. Przhevalsky. In Przhevalskoye village (former Sloboda), in the restored mansion of the famous compatriot there is a museum telling about the life and works of the famous researcher and traveler. Mineral water spring “Sacred Well” is especially popular among the locals and visitors of the park. A church of XVIII century is restored in Przhevalskoye.

The abundance of monuments of war history allows to recreate the pages of war past of Smolensk land since the beginning of XII until XX centuries. Sites of fighting against Polish, Lithuanian and Nazi German invaders, defense constructions, partisans’ bases, common beds of honor and individual burials of defenders of our Motherland speak about heroism and self-sacrifice of our nation in different periods of its history. Both regular army and people’s volunteer corps always stood up to give battle to the enemy. In Przhevalskoye village, one of the cultural and historical centers of the national park, there is the Museum of Partisans’ Glory. Its exhibition tells about the partisans’ movement in our region, about people who heroically fought in the enemies’ rear.

On the territory of the national park there are no big rivers; mainly there are rivers of 3-4 or lower classifications pertaining to the basin of the Western Dvina. The biggest river of the national park is the Yelsha River flowing into the Mezhza River – the first large tributary to the upper flow of the Western Dvina. The basin of the Yelsha occupies more than 80% of the entire park’s territory. Only the far south and its western part belong to the basins of the Gobzin and Polovya Rivers accordingly. A small part of this territory along the western border belongs to the basins of the Serteyka and other small rivers flowing into the Mezha.

The main river of the south-west of the national park is the Polovya with big tributaries: the Brus and Demyanka Rivers. Being joined to the Petrovskoye, Rytoye and Baklanovskoye Lakes, the Polovya River is characterized by high level of water from its very beginning.

The headwaters of some rivers are lakes. The Yelsha River flows out of the Petrakovskoye Lake; out of the Schuchye Lake – the Dolzhitsa, out of the Dgo – the Elzhitsa, out of the Rytoye Lake – the Polovya River; out of the Baklanovskoye Lake – the Brus River. High rising of water in spring and in summer and autumn high waters do not occur on these rivers that often; in the middle periods traffic of water is higher than in other rivers.

The clarity of the water of the rivers and specific hydrological regime facilitates development of water tourism – recreation near water sites. For tourists on canoes who prefer rowing down quiet plain rivers water tours are organized along the Yelsha and Polovya Rivers with accommodation in set-up camps. Meals are provided right in the field on coals. The cost of the tour also includes a canoe, a life vest, a tent and bonfire equipment.

The lakes of the national park are the most valuable natural complexes as far as their recreational capacity for tourists is concerned. They are used for all kinds of recreations as in winter time so during the summer.

Of all the lakes in the park of the biggest interest is a group of water basins located in a big pre-glacier hollow separated by massive esker ridges. Among them are the Chistick, Big and Small Stretchnoye, Mutnoye, Dolgoye, Glubokoye, Krugloye Lakes. Almost all of them are characterized by highly expressed individual peculiarities.

For instance, the Chistick Lake has regular groundwater alimentation and almost completely lacks surface catch of water. The lake on every side is surrounded by sand ridges closely nearing its banks.

Absence of surface alimentation is an extremely rare phenomenon for the lakes of the north-west of the country. In this regard the Chistick is unique.

The surface of the lake is 57 ha; the maximum depth is 24.5 m.; the average – 9 m. In its origin the hollow of the water basin is thermokarst; in classification the basin belongs to mesotrophic kind with some characteristic of oligotrophy.

The transparency of water in the Chistick throughout the year does not get lower than 4-6 meters. The scenic landscape, cut-through relief of the basin’s bottom, clear water attracts fishermen and lovers of diving fish-hunt. Even though the lake is not that famous for abundance of fish, big species of pikes, perches and eelpouts can be met here. Altogether there are 10 kinds of fish in the lake. Along the lake’s banks there are four stations for picnic recreation.

The Rytoye Lake adjoins the Chistick Lake from the western side. It is characterized by scenic, comfortable for tourism, banks and is one of the most fish populated lakes of the park. The square is 178 ha; the maximum depth is 20.4 m; the average being 6.7 m. By its origin the hollow of the basin is very complex; by classification the lake belongs to mesotrophic type.

Until the opening of the National Park, local amateur fisher-men had some fishing and melioration activities on this lake; a boat station worked. The Rytoye Lake has been characterized by a high number of fish. Mostly they are from the carp family (bream, roach, redfin and silver bream). Totally there are 16 kinds of fish inhabiting the lake. At the present time, the majority of fishermen visit this lake.

Along the banks of the lake there are four stations for picnic recreation, one tent camp and 11 stations for long-term rest.

The biggest water basin of the park is the Sapsho Lake. Its square is 304 ha; the maximum depth is 15.6 m, the average one is 7.0 m. In the past the lake was very rich with fish; pike-perch was part of its fish fauna. As a result of human activity and poaching the number of fish in this lake significantly decreased, and the lake lost its popularity among the lovers of fishing. Good food resources make it possible to increase population of fish in the Sapsho Lake and use it as a gem of fishing tourism. There are 19 species of fish in the lake.

Forest-grown islands stretch along it as a caravan of ships. Its banks are modestly comfortable (altogether there are 7 sites for picnics and 2 sites for long-term rest); here you will not feel yourself lost on the edge of the world.

The most fish-filled basin of the national park is the Dgo Lake. The square is 234 ha; the maximum depth is 16.0 m, the average – 5.2 m. By its origin the hollow of the lake is a rut of glacier’s burrowing.

The Dgo Lake is rich with fish; especially one should note abundance of big population of breams, roaches, pikes, eelpouts and redfin perches. Altogether there are 15 species of fish dwelling in the basin.

The Dgo Lake is stretching for almost five kilometers from north to south. The relief of the bottom is flat; there are three islands, on one of which there is a monument of pagan culture – a sacrificial stone. On the right bank, in the central part of the lake there are around 50 burial mounds of the Slavic Krivichi.

The Dgo Lake is popular among the lovers of fishing; however, lack of good transportation access holds back the stream of fishermen. On the banks of the lake there are 6 spots opened for long-term recreation.

The deepest lake not only of the national park, but of the entire Smolensk region, is the Baklanovskoye Lake. Its square is 221 ha; maximum depth – 28.7 m, average – 8.2 m. The relief of the bottom of the basin is good for fishing. There are about four sandbanks of around 0.5 to 2 meters deep, stone ranges, and wide sand-lime reaches. All this makes the Baklanovoye Lake attractive for tourists and fishermen.

The core of the fish fauna are roaches and perches presented basically by quickly growing deepwater morph (incidents of catch of species of 1-1.5 kilograms are not rare). Altogether there are 19 species of fish registered in the lake. Abundance of pike, perch and orfe, makes the lake popular with lovers of spinning.

On the bank of the lake in a scenic, remote from settlements place, there is a visit center of the national park (formerly a very popular recreation base); a boat station also operates there. Along the banks 8 places for long-term rest and a tent camp are located.

The Balkanovskoye Lake is joined by a strait with the Petrovskoye (Lososno) Lake. The square of the latter is 94 ha; the maximum depth – 16.4 m; the average – 7.4 m. Fish fauna in general is similar to that of the Baklanovskoye Lake being different by a bigger population of bream and a lesser number of perch. Altogether in the basin 134 species of fish dwell. On the southern and northern banks one site of recreation is opened on each.

On the bottom of the Mutnoye Lake significant deposits of lacustrine sediments are found that have balneal characteristics and are used for treatment of those resting in Przhevalsky sanatorium. The fish fauna of the lake is not that multifarious (only 9 species of fish populate it) but some species of pikes, breams, tenches reach up to impressive sizes. The banks of the basin are swamp-like, and there is no boat station on the lake, so fishermen need to bring a boat of their own.

In the south of the park three big lakes must be noted – Bukino, Rzhavets and Poganoye.

The Bukino Lake is located in woodland, far away from villages and roads. The lake is shallow; in summertime it is halfway overgrown with white lilies. The most popular time for anglers should be spring and autumn fly rod fishing for pike and perch, summertime catch of predatory fish using bait fish and ice fishing in the beginning and end of winter.

The Rzhavets and Poganoye Lakes are located at the foot of ancient settlement of Verzhavsk. In its quantity the fish fauna of these basins is similar to that of the Bukino Lake.

Several lakes are included in the preservation zone of the National Park.

The Loshamye and Big Stretchnoye Lakes differ by high transparency of water. In the Loshamye 7 species of fish can be caught, while in the Big Stretchnoye because of acid reaction of the atmosphere (рН during the year varies from 4.5 to 5.5) only one species can live – perch.

In the lakes of carstic origin – the Dolgoye, Krugloye, Glubokoye and Gniloye Lakes – two species of mollusks can be found  (Lumnaea fusca and Lumnaea dupuei), presence of which on the territory of the entire Russia was found only in these basins.

In the center of the shallow Vervizhsky peat bog there are residual water bodies – the Vervizhskoye, Paltsevskoye and Beloye lakes. Each basin is unique in its own way. The Paltsevskoye Lake stands out because of its high transparency of water, and only perch lives there. In the Vervizhskoye Lake transparency of water is on the contrary not high, but 6 species of fish live in it. The biggest population in this lake is of the white crucian carp, and its most peculiar characteristic is the presence of big ruff (up to 200 grams). The Beloye Lake is uninhabitable, and fish cannot live in it.

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