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Volunteer scuba divers with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's office dive team and Let's Go Fishing volunteers hoist up what was believed to be a pier from a dock that had been on the bottom of the lake. The diver wrapping up the rope for the dive flag is believed to be sheriff's deputy Tim Fischer and the non-diver volunteers include Brady Quisberg, Nick Willms and Clarence Theessen. (Tribune photos by Tom Cherveny)

Volunteer divers clean up the depths of Green Lake

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extra Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Green Lake gave up its secrets by the boat load last Saturday, and is a lot cleaner for it.

Volunteer scuba divers collected debris from the lake's bottom off the shores of Saulsbury Beach in Spicer, a popular destination and access point for Kandiyohi County's best known lake.

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"We got a coffee cup too,'' laughed scuba diver Julie Kalkbrenner of Spicer, as she and members of Team 3 showed off the collection of debris they hauled to shore.

The coffee cup was part of a collection that no one wants in their kitchen cupboard, that's for sure. The divers hauled up rusted anchors, lots of mud-crusted bottles and cans, golf balls, metal fence posts, tires and even a few things no one expected.

One dive team brought up a porcelain toilet a diver discovered in over 30-feet of water and well over 100 yards from shore.

Thirty-three divers volunteered for the event sponsored by Let's Go Fishing with Seniors of Minnesota. Joe Holm, founder and organizer of Let's Go Fishing, said the event was held as a way to give back to the community. Green Lake is the favorite destination for the non-profit organization's fishing and boat excursions.

A scuba diver himself, it was no secret to Holm that debris littered parts of the lake's bottom. He's hoping that by bringing some of it back to the light of day, it will help foster an attitude of respect for the lake.

"We removed a lot of materials that should not be there,'' said Holm. The lake is undoubtedly cleaner for the work, he noted.

Let's Go Fishing organized the divers into teams, each assigned to one of nine different pontoon boats. Spicer Sports and Marine was also on hand with its barge and the hydraulic lift that was used to hoist the 1,700 pound airplane that had been pulled from the lake in August 2005.

Nothing that big was found this time around, but it all added up by the end of the day. Morning and afternoon dives led to a "plumb full' truckload of trash, said Holm. "We could not fit it in a standard dumpster.''

All of the debris will be landfilled, except for the few "treasures'' found amidst the junk. Diver Mike Terhune was quick to lay claim to a small, oak cask he found. It was considered the best catch of the day.

Conditions for the dive couldn't have been better. Clear skies, warm temperatures and only a whisper of wind made the day an enjoyable one for the divers and volunteers who assisted in boats and on shore.

Divers started their work in 30 to 40 feet of water and worked toward shore and shallower water. "The deeper you get out there the harder it is to find (things),'' said diver Bruce Lindula of Sebeka.

Visibility was generally pretty good, said the divers, but the bottom silt was quickly stirred up as they worked.

Holm said it took the work of nearly 200 volunteers overall to make the event possible.

"Everybody said they wanted to do it again,'' said Holm.

He's hoping they will. He's already planning to make the underwater clean up an annual event.

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