Dredge hits bottom after 150,000 yards of silt
Little Storm Lake wetland preserve may be getting a facelift thanks to the efforts put forth by the Storm Lake Improvement Commission, the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Julie Sievers of the DNR reported to the Lake Improvement Commission Monday that after meetings between the Corps and the DNR, the Engineers "would like to do a wetland restoration on Little Storm Lake."
"This is tremendous news," Sievers said. "The Corps will start by doing a study, which we hope will turn out to be a full study of the wetlands so we can have it restored."
Sievers told the commission that a big reason the Corps is interested in the project is the fact that "we've done watershed work and are cleaning the lake. That shows we're working at restoring our lakes."
Sievers said that the Corps told her the little lake was similar in many ways to a current project the Corps is working on at Ventura Marsh in Palo Alto County near Clear Lake.
"Because of the similarities in the two areas, the Corps wants to have that team work on Little Storm," she said.
It will take a few month to get the funding in place, Sievers said, but the cost share would be a 65-35 percent split. The Army Corps of Engineers would consider the assessed value of the land and marsh to be the county's and city's 35-percent contribution.
"We will not have to transfer the land to the Corps," Sievers said. "There will be no transfer of ownership. I doubt if they want it anyway."
She said the Corps has $5 million in grants for projects like the little lake's restoration.
The plan, Sievers said, would be to remove sediment and encourage native vegetation in the little lake, making it an even better filter for the big lake. She said the Corps also would try to keep rough fish from infiltrating.
"They also will be looking at ways to manage the water level in both lakes," she said. "We'd like to see Little Storm Lake maintain a constant water level. This may mean pumps and dams."
The Corps and the DNR will be setting up monitoring stations to monitor water turbidity, phosphorus and nutrient levels and water flow. This will begin as soon as the ice is out and will give the agencies involved an entire ice-free season to monitor the lakes interactions.
In other business, the commission heard from treasurer Patti Moore that the Lake Preservation Association had given the commission $160,000 from its fund-raising efforts.
John Call reported that the dredge should be finished for the season but had, since Aug. 1, brought up 150,000 cubic yards of sediment, leaving a rather large hole on the bottom of the lake according to Gary Lalone.
"We hit rock," he said. "The natural bottom, probably the first natural fish habitat we've had. So we're getting down there and getting the sediment out."