Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Lake water bubbling, oxygen flowing

Wick's World

 


Within the first five minutes of a thawing shoreline, the chances are near certain a dozen geese flying in a military style V-formation will skid across the ice and claim the lake for their breeding grounds. Maybe I am slightly exaggerating; it could take six to seven minutes before they appear. This happens each year as regularly as pheasant hunting season in South Dakota.

I like to think of my feathered friends as real snowbirds without RVs, not the ones living in trailer parks in McAllen, Texas. I hope it’s the same flocks of last year’s birds returning to their summer homes this year. As we are living in an era short on facts, I will call this pure conjecture from a romanticist. For all I know, each lake is occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis. I may never see the same birds twice.

It’s different with the cardinal that greeted me at 6 a.m. with its morning melody. This family of cardinals lives in my back yard year-round and has become very friendly at the bird feeder. We are usually blessed with new baby cardinals each spring.

Yesterday, we attended a neighborhood meeting for our residents with lakeshore property. Our lake was one of two in Dakota County funded to “clean up” the water. This water quality project is the result of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing that designated our lake as impaired by too much phosphorus. The presenter stated that 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes probably qualify for this designation. We are very fortunate to have the chance for lake restoration back to the days when it was abundant with walleye, bass, sunfish, crappies, northern pike and other fish besides the bullheads that now dominate our polluted waters.

This spring, two specialized filters will be installed to reduce up to 80 percent of the phosphorous flowing into the lake. The second part of the project is the application of alum to the entire lake to reduce the phosphorous already contained in the lake’s sediment.

Not only will our lake once again have its water clarity restored, we have also been given the opportunity as a neighborhood to join efforts and resources to further enhance our lake. We can add plants to the shoreline and stock the lake with a choice of fish species that will eventually overtake the less than palatable bullhead. In addition, the neighborhood will install and monitor an aerator to keep the water bubbling and the oxygen flowing during the frozen months.

This will require neighborhood cooperation. Our meeting last night was well represented by residents from all sides of the lake, most of whom agreed to support the project. Since this lake has no public access, the cost of an aerator and its supplies, along with the cost of planting and fish stocking would be paid by the lakeshore’s willing residents. Property owners who do not wish to support the project cannot be forced to pay. They will, however, just like their neighbors, reap the benefits of a clean, fish-filled lake. The only difference is their neighbors will be paying for their share. (Sound like a political sound bite?)

It appears we have enough interested lakeshore owners who are willing to divvy up the expenses so we can once again make our lake a desirable, pristine fishing lake. For a mere one-time cost of $200, with an annual maintenance fee of $30, this small investment is miniscule compared to its potential return — not only in the enjoyment of a cleaner lake, but the increased property value. A landowner’s 10-year investment of $500 will most assuredly result in a property value increase many times this amount.

Personally, I feel anyone who doesn’t agree with the project shouldn’t have to pay for it. After all, isn’t this how democracy works ... kind of? Besides, what would we call it, forced fishing? In my humble opinion, you can still fish and swim in our lake all you want. Just keep it clean.

Thanks to Dakota County for giving us the blessing of cleaning up our lake. To Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes with 40 percent impaired, it seems like we have 4,000 to go.

 

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