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Residents Discuss The Future Health Of Five Island Lake

April 10, 2018
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

by Jane Whitmore

A review of projects proposed for improving Five Island Lake were topics of discussion at a meeting of the Five Island Lake Restoration Board last week.

"This is all just a study to help the lake. Everyone is concerned they're going to drain the lake," said board chairman Jeff Stillman. "In my opinion, that's one of the last things that would ever happen."

Board member Gary Koppie added, "We need to resolve the rough fish population before we do anything else."

Emmetsburg residents Dan Cooper and BT Buhrow, and City Councilman Mike Hermansen attended the April 4 board meeting.

Questions came at the heels of a meeting of the Watershed Advisory Committee (WAC) and Technical Advisory Team (TAT) Committees at a meeting held March 20 at The Shores.

FYRA Proposals

FYRA Engineering has coordinated a plan with suggestions on how to clean up and protect the watershed. Goals include reducing the amount of algae, increasing water clarity, enhancing the ecological health of the lake, and modification of the outlet structure.

Proposals include: hiring a watershed coordinator, rough fish management, outlet structure modification, and shallow vegetation and lake level management.

Lake Board members discussed the rough fish population in Five Island Lake.

Gary Koppie told the board that the DNR routinely has crews come into lakes to remove rough fish. He noted that some crews are offered additional incentives to stay longer and remove more pounds of rough fish.

Removal of rough fish brought another thought to the table: removing the dredge pipe from behind Fifth Island.

"We need to get the dredge going and get the pipe out from behind Fifth Island, to be able to get behind the island (for rough fish removal)," said Stillman.

Koppie noted that the lake bed is undulated because of dredging, providing a lower space for rough fish.

Conferring with dredge operator Tim Bunda, Stillman said it could take two to three weeks to get the dredge started, blow the mud out and get the pipe taken apart in sections before move the pipe sections to shore. The work will be done this Spring.

"It's not going to be a cheap deal," Stillman said.

Councilman Mike Hermansen questioned what the cost of removing the dredge pipe would be. He later estimated a cost of $9,000 to $10,000 with Bunda and two assistants doing the work.

Stillman said there is cash on hand of dredge money.

Stillman also stated that the future of continued dredging is in doubt, pointing primarily to lack of funding. He also stated Emmetsburg would have to obtain new permits from the DNR if dredging is to continue.

City Administrator Travis Cooke concurred, stating the city would have to start with a whole new permit process.

"I am excited to hear about the momentum to help clean up and protect the lake," said Dan Cooper. "I'm disappointed about the future of dredging, though. If we need a permit and the DNR isn't in favor, we're at their mercy."

Cooper also mentioned Lost Island has provided an incentive to crews removing rough fish.

Modification of the concrete dam on the north end of the lake is another project under consideration.

"Modification with fish screens would stop the rough fish from coming back up," said Stillman.

Having slats in the dam would allow for a draw down early in the season to promote growth of aquatic vegetation. If this process was repeated for a few years, the aquatic plant life would help reduce the phosphorus. Most of the shoreline that would be exposed would be on the North end of the lake.

"I'm relieved you're not going to drain the lake, but I am concerned about a draw down," said BT Buhrow. "A working dam would be a huge benefit."

Discussion was held on two other potential projects: a rock levy on the North end of the lake, and the possibility of a watershed coordinator.

"I like the rock levy shutting off the North end," said Stillman. "We could run our trail across to the island. That would be one way to bring people to Emmetsburg."

Dave Rouse agreed, noting a hard barrier would do a lot of good things.

Board member John Davis spoke of a hard trail project in a wildlife lake area in Wisconsin that is highly successful.

The possibility of a part-time watershed coordinator was also discussed. Stillman noted there is a person interested in filling that position.

"At the FYRA meeting, they suggested a watershed coordinator to work with Silver Lake and Lost Island Lake, in addition to Five Island Lake," said Rouse. "Maybe the county would be able to help finance the position."

He added, "If we don't do anything, our lake will continue to depreciate."

 
 
 

 

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