The future will depend on active citizen involvement
Trails around Little Storm Lake, a bridge connecting one of Storm Lake's islands to shore and the development of environmentally friendly land management practices - both agricultural and for lakefront homes - are some of the areas explored in a comprehensive plan for the Storm Lake Water Quality Project.
It was prepared by Jeff Kestel, Iowa Lakes RC&D, and members of the community.
"Recommendations have been provided to preserve the natural character of the lake and surrounding watershed community, yet allow for safe growth of residential development and agricultural practices," according to the plan.
The plan summarizes basic facts about Storm Lake and its watershed and discusses previous improvement efforts to the lake. It also lays out a number of goals - some tied to the watershed and some to the lake and shoreline.
The director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources suggested to the Lake Preservation Association that it should develop a long-term plan laying out improvements for not only lake dredging, but other components of the Storm Lake Watershed.
The comprehensive plan combines those ideas under the concept of "sustainable development."
"Sustainable development provides a means to protect our environment, provide economic growth opportunities and enhance our society," Kestel writes in the plan. " This concept depends on the active involvement and participation of all citizens to find solutions to challenges, identify opportunities and create the type of society that meets our needs and those of future generations."
With that framework, environmental protection and economic development can be "mutually reinforcing," the plan says.
The plan lays out three objectives for sustainable development:
* Improve both development and management practices in the lake area.
* Improve the Storm Lake Watershed aesthetically and environmentally.
* Enhance the quality of life of residents and visitors.
All of that is part of a series of goals for the watershed, lakeshore and lake basin. With the basic needs identified, components can be further examined down the line. "Specific issues can be pulled from this plan to be given further study and action," the plan says.
A major area is increasing awareness of conservation practices and programs for both agricultural landowners and residential landowners - especially concerning the use of fertilizers and chemicals in the watershed.
The plan calls to increase agricultural landowners' awareness of conservation practices and programs, as well as increasing communication between ag landowners, lakeshore property owners and others.
The need to educate urban residents about run-off is noted, and to encourage lakeshore property owners about practices that protect groundwater quality.
Further recreational opportunities are listed in the plan, including the obvious one of dredging a significant portion of the main lake. Dredging a small portion of Little Storm Lake is mentioned in the plan to further its capability as a water quality filter to the main lake.
The comprehensive plan lists a goal of purchasing 200 more acres of land to be developed for public use, while developing a trail system around the lake.
A trail system around Little Storm Lake would also provide additional recreation opportunities along with an outdoor classroom setting on wetland ecosystems, the plan says.
Another possibility mentioned is implementing a new stabilization technique to make use of dredge spoil to expand the island nearest to the campgrounds, while connecting it by bridge to the Lake Trail. The plan proposes a handicap-accessible bridge that would still allow for boat traffic underneath.
Also, the plan looks at ways to use spoil material. A consultant has been brought in to discuss ideas, including making top soil or potting soil, creating construction blocks, and using it as a component to create other molding.
For more on the "Save the Lake" campaign or the LPA's comprehensive plan, check out the web site www.bvu.edu/goto/SaveTheLake/