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City Council Hears Plans For Rock Reef In Five Island Lake

By Staff | Sep 20, 2011

Emmetsburg City Council heard plans to place a rock reef in Five Island Lake. The plans were explained by Art Hampe, Executive Director of the Palo Alto County Conservation Board.

“I’ve received the okay to go ahead with the rock reef project,” said Hampe. “Just to let you know how difficult that is, the first one we started for Lost Island was over 35 years ago and we just built it. We’re very fortunate to get this done quickly.”

The rock reef that will be going into Five Island Lake is 250 tons. The one at Lost Island is 1,500 tons.

Hampe explained the project. “Before we ever get started we have to do a survey. There are a lot of places in the lake, if we drop them (rocks) they’re going to disappear. That’s part of the work this fall. We’ll go out on the lake and shoot sonar to find hard bottom and rock bottom. We’ll place them (rocks) in 12 to 15 feet of water and they’ll come up from four to six feet, generally about 25 feet long and about 25 foot spacings.”

Hampe shared a map from Lost Island with council members that was a computer image over a satellite map.

“What we found when we shot sonar, the only spot on Lost Island Lake that we could actually put a reef was in this one small area. Anywhere else it would just disappear,” said Hampe.

He also cited some benefits of the rock reef.

“In 18 years of working over there at Lost Island, this last spring every weekend looked like a fishing tournament,” said Hampe. “There were 40 to 50 boats sitting on this 300 foot area. It’s a draw. The people really came and they spend money; our camping fees are up.”

Hampe said that they are looking at locations where they have already shot sonar and they will next GPS them.

The rock reef will be funded with Fish Habitat Stamp grant, which will cover the majority of the cost. Local grant of 10-percent will be required and can be in-kind and donations. Hampe said he has people willing to donate rock for this project. He anticipates the project to cost about $30,000.

“What we’re going to end up wanting is about $5,000 local match or in-kind share of rocks or money,” said Hampe. “The old fishing club has about $1,500 on hand. It doesn’t take long to make $5,000 when you’re doing projects like this.”

Hampe said the project will be done in fiscal year 2013. He will apply for grant funds this December and make a request for funds from the city next year in the fall.

Hampe also visited with council members about the importance of the Lake Restoration Board or a protective association. He pointed out there are grant funds available, but it takes local support to get the grants to fly.

Referencing Lost Island, Hampe said they have a very active group that consists of a core group and subcommittees. As an example, he said that a bike trail group is working with the Lost Island Protective Association, as well as fireworks.

“They’ve kind of split themselves up,” said Hampe. “They’ve kind of got little subcommittees.”

He noted, “It’s going to take a board of very active people very similar to what we used to have with Doc Coffey. It takes someone who has dedicated their life to it.

“In my opinion, there are a lot of cities that would like to have the opportunity that this city’s got. You’ve got a goose down the road that’s ready to lay the golden egg.”

Hampe told the council that research from Iowa State University pertaining to day travelers going to rural lakes are spending an average of $68 to $168 per day.

“They estimate our rural lakes are being visited by about 30,000 people a year,” said Hampe. “That’s maybe myself going to the lake ten times, but you’re still going to have 30,000 visitors. If you do the math on that, you’re going to have about $2 million. Start multiplying that by?Local Option Sales Tax, spending money at restaurants and hotels, gambling at the casino, and there’s a lot of opportunity for the city to capitalize on that.”