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Year One of Restoration Effort

By Staff | Dec 9, 2010

RUTHVEN Key steps in a $1.2 million, two-year project to improve the water quality and restore the fishery at Iowa’s fifth largest natural lake are underway. Lost Island Lake on the Palo Alto-Clay County line has suffered from poor water quality caused in large part by an enormous common carp population, and from its connected wetlands that are not working properly.

The renovation project began last winter when the commercial removal of rough fish began. Lost Island Lake was seined six times in 2010, removing 320,000 pounds of carp and buffalo. Jim Neighbors, 62, who lives on the shore of Lost Island Lake and has been part of the leadership of the Lost Island Protective Association, said he hopes to duplicate that success in 2011.

“We are already seeing the water clarity improving,” Neighbors said.

The restoration plan calls for 75-percent reduction in the amount of carp and buffalo in the lake.

Contractors are installing culverts at five locations that will serve as barriers preventing carp from entering the wetlands connected to Lost Island Lake to spawn. The culverts will have a feature to control the water level in the wetlands allowing the DNR to lower the water to promote winter fish kills and vegetation growth.

The restoration plan is based on results from a 2008 study that concluded a major problem impacting water quality was coming from within the lake, which is not typical.

“We feel that if we can get a handle on the carp, get the wetlands functioning, vegetation re-established and a balanced fishery that this lake has a lot of potential,” said George Antoniou, with the DNR’s lake restoration program.

As the two main phases of the project are now underway, Mike Hawkins, fisheries management biologist for the DNR at Spirit Lake, said there is a feeling of excitement among the main players.

“It feels like we have accomplished a lot but we’re still a few years away from seeing all of the benefits,” Hawkins said. “This is what it’s all about. This is what we do as a department.”

The $1.2 million project is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Palo Alto County, Ducks Unlimited, and the Lost Island Protective Association. Work is scheduled for completion in December 2011.