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Olson Lake to be drained

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local Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

SPICER -- A shallow 140-acre lake in the southwest part of Kandiyohi County will be drained dry this fall so invasive species of rough fish can be killed off.

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Olson Lake, located in Edwards Township, will then be restored to it current water level so vegetation can grow to create a good habitat for waterfowl.

Following a public hearing Tuesday, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners agreed to allow the water to be discharged into Ditch 31.

The temporary draw-down of the water will eliminate bullheads and fathead minnows, allow vegetation to grow, decrease phosphorous, improve the overall water quality of the lake, improve waterfowl habitat and increase recreational opportunities on the lake, said Steve Erickson, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I think we've got a really good project here," he said.

Under the management plan, which was developed with the assistance of Josh Kavanagh from Ducks Unlimited and Loren Engelby, the county's drainage supervisor, a control structure and tile will be put in place at the out-let of the four-foot deep lake.

The draining process will be done over a 72-day period.

"They'll dry it up as much as they possibly can," said Engelby, in later comments. The mud slab and decaying fish could create a bit of an odor before the water levels are restored.

Randy Zimmer, who lives downstream, said he didn't want water from the lake over-loading the drainage ditch during a rainy period, which could negatively affect the drainage of farm land.

Because state law prohibits any harm from occurring to downstream landowners or from interfering with agricultural drainage, the draw-down may be stop-and-go if there are heavy rainfalls, said Kavanagh.

Zimmer was also curious how the invasive fish got there in the first place.

Erickson said some may enter through the ditch system and some may have been introduced by bait dealers who like to harvest the fathead minnows.

Kavanagh compared draining the lake to a "fire through a prairie" that kills invasive plants in order to let native vegetation grow.

"Hopefully we'll sustain these benefits for a long time," said Kavanagh.

Based on past projects, Olson Lake may have to be drained once every 10 to 15 years in order to maintain its integrity.

The Commissioners, who held their meeting at the Spicer city offices, also agreed on what direction traffic on a new one-way road should go on the edge of Spicer.

Last month the Commissioners voted to make a one-mile section of County Road 144, also known as Skyline Drive and also known as Lake Avenue North, a one-way to reduce traffic and improve safety.

On Tuesday, the Commissioners agreed the vehicle traffic would go south on the road, which hugs the west shore of Green Lake. The other lane of traffic would be used for walkers and bikers.

The decision was based on the recommendation of Public Works Director Gary Danielson who, along with County Administrator Larry Kliendl and two other highway staffers, walked the route last Friday.

Doing that made it clear that the safest option was to have pedestrians and bikers on the lake side of the road and vehicles on the side of the road where houses are located, said Danielson.

One-way traffic will begin there on May 1, depending on when striping can be completed.

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