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DNR delays drainage of lake at PRAIRIE ROSE

Harlan News-Advertiser of Harlan, Iowa

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HARLAN - Plans to restore the water quality in Prairie Rose Lake made significant progress in 2008, but drainage of the lake has been delayed until next year.

Last year, the Prairie Rose Watershed Council was formed, soil saving treatments to the land got underway, and a diagnostic feasibility study providing a roadmap to cleaner water was completed. Lack of a dredge spoil site has forced the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to change the timeline for this project.

"The timeline for when the lake will be drained has been moved back to after the 2010 recreation season." says Bryan Hayes, fisheries biologist with the Iowa DNR. Hayes said they are working to identify a site within four miles of the lake that can be purchased or leased as a location to store dredge material removed from the lake bottom.

The restoration work at Prairie Rose Lake involves a two phase process with the first phase being the land treatments in the watershed around the lake. The second phase will address in-lake issues. Reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients reaching the lake is essential to improving the quality of the water. This project is actively conducting the watershed work necessary for long lasting water quality benefits.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to make improvements in the watershed. The Shelby County Soil and Water Conservation trict was awarded a grant funding watershed work back in the spring of 2008. Nearly 60,000 feet of terraces were rebuilt last year though this project. Best Management Practices (BMPs) including terraces, no-till, grade stabilization structures, grass waterways, and contour buffer strips are a few of the many practices eligible for cost share dollars.

In-lake restoration phase planned for Prairie Rose Lake includes both dredging to restore depth and a total fishery renovation to rid the lake of common carp. This work requires the lake to be drained. "Before the in-lake work can begin a spoil site needs to be located close to the lake," says Hayes.

Once the dredge spoil site is purchased, the DNR will lower the lake, eliminate the fish population, remove sediment, modify the spillway to prevent carp movement into the lake, and install fish habitat.

Prairie Rose Lake was built back in 1958 and was a popular state park fishing lake in west central Iowa many years. But over time, areas of the lake filled in with sediment, a carp population has not allowed aquatic plants to take hold, stirs up sediment causing algae problems and the fish population is out of balance. Crappies and bluegills rarely reach angler acceptable sizes.

"This is one of 35 priority lakes selected for restoration in the state and this project is similar to what we are doing right now at Green Valley and what was done at Lake of Three Fires," Hayes says. "Based on results from other lakes, a restored Prairie Rose Lake will be a better draw to people and provide economic benefits to the area."

"Before the Lake Restoration Program was established we could not have completed a project of this magnitude," Hayes adds. "Iowan's value good water quality and recognize that money invested in our lakes is quickly returned as we double or even triple the number of visits to a lake."

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Original Publication Date: February 6, 2009

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