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Project will restore a piece of Green Lake shoreline and serve as education site for homeowners

Jeanette Jacobson, of Roseland, keeps her balance on a steep slope on the west shore of Green Lake Wednesday in Spicer while helping to plant 4,000 native Minnesota flowers and grasses in a shoreline restoration project. By planting seeds and established plants, it's hoped that the mix will hold the soil in place, absorb rainwater and provide an attractive natural shoreline. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

The slope on the west shore of Green Lake is so steep it almost looked like Jeanette Jacobson was gripping the sides of a vertical wall on Wednesday as she dug small holes into the coarse coco blanket where native Minnesota wild flowers and grasses would be planted.

Even though she'd been at her task for 5½ hours and wasn't done yet, Jacobson was determined to finish getting 3,000 plants rooted in the steep embankment. She was one of a dozen volunteers to work on the project, although since her daughter, Sara Jacobson, organized it through her work as a technician with the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed, she really didn't have a choice.

Being perched on a steep slope was "payback" for dragging her daughter to all sorts of volunteer activities throughout the years. "I could hardly say no," she said, as she half scooted and half slid down the hill to prepare the ground for the final couple hundred of plants.

The sharp incline of that slope is the main reason why vegetation is being planted along a 400-foot stretch of Green Lake shoreline, right below the Spicer city park and playground.

"Rainwater just washed down the hill into the lake," said Sara Jacobson.

The soil had eroded from the bank over the years, which wasn't good for the lake's water quality and didn't look particularly attractive by the park.

By planting seeds and established plants, it's hoped that the mix of big blue stem, side oat grama, prairie onion grass, roses, black eyed Susan, asters and columbines will hold the soil in place, absorb rainwater and provide an attractive natural shoreline border.

By next spring many of the plants will be established, but it will take three years before they reach maturity.

A new walking path was built a month ago so that people will be able to walk among -- but not on -- the new flowers and grasses. Jacobson said it's important that people stay off the newly planted area so that the grasses and wild flowers have a chance to grow.

Two interpretive signs will also be erected that will explain the benefits of shoreline restoration and provide names and descriptions of the flowers and grasses.

Showing how a natural lakeshore looks on a large scale along a 400-foot stretch will show homeowners how it could work on a 50-foot lakeshore. "I hope it sparks an interest for people to do this on their own," said Jacobson.

Matching funds to restore private lakeshore with native vegetation is available through the watershed district.

The $18,000 project on Green Lake was funded jointly with money from the Minnesota Waters Lakes and Streams Conservation Partnership Grant Program, Michelob Golden Draft Light, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, city of Spicer, Spicer Design Team, Kandiyohi County, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Clean Water Partnership Program, Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and citizen volunteers.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750