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Five Island Lake Assoc.

Maintaining Quality

By Staff | Feb 23, 2021

A watershed is an area of land where all water drains into a central point like a lake, river or stream. The saying, water takes the path of least resistance, is appropriate in terms of a watershed. Every drop of rain passes over the watershed before it reaches the lake.

Five Island Lake’s watershed consists of 7,657 acres. The health of the lake is due to the management of this land. Management helps to control erosion, excess phosphorus and sediment – all factors in maintaining and sustaining the lake’s water quality.

In a recent article in the Farm Bureau Spokesman, a Palo Alto County farm was featured because of 10 acres transformed into a shallow wetland. While this wetland isn’t part of the Five Island Lake watershed, it is an example of what one farm can do for water quality. Author Dirck Steimel wrote, “The Berklands, Ritch and Cynthia, worked with Josh Divan, precision ag and conservation specialist for Pheasants Forever in Iowa, to analyze the 80-acre field just west of their homeplace near Cylinder. Farmers interested in improving profitability share their precision data with the conservation group, and they use software to generate color-coded maps that can help provide a clearer view of the profit within each area of a field.”

For the Berklands, the area at the edge of a field that showed up bright red, indicated that it was unprofitable. It wasn’t a complete surprise to the couple since over the years the low spot was “falling short on yields.” That information prompted them to idle the 10 acres and enroll the land in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

According to the article, the above land (plus a couple of other small patches), “will soon be transformed into a shallow wetland growing a wide diversity of native grasses. The wetland will help reduce erosion, improve water quality and provide excellent habitat for pheasants and other birds, Monarch butterflies and all sorts of wildlife.”

Ritch was quoted as saying, “I’m a big believer in promoting wildlife, and I also love to grow 240-bushel corn on land that’s suited for it. This way I’ll be able to do both.”

Five Island Lake’s watershed is primarily cropland. The FYRA Engineering Five Island Lake Improvement Project states that the watershed is made up of the following: cropland 83%, urban 10%, pasture 5% and forested 3%.

The Berkland article is just one example of resources (advice and dollars) that are available for others to determine ways to better their management practices, better their profitability and better their land. And in a watershed these changes will trickle down to improve water quality.

Previous question’s answer: Medium Lake was a former name of Five Island Lake because it was half-way between Ft. Dodge & Spirit Lake. Settlers would travel to one of these towns for medical care and provisions. (Information provided by Dave Rouse)

Question: What city park used to be a marsh area of Five Island Lake?

submitted by Diane Weiland