For the third time in recent years, William and Catherine Bernard, owners of acreage on the southeast side of Dogfish Bay, have requested approval of a plat for their property. In the past, such efforts as proposed have been opposed by the Diamond Lake Association, DNR, Kandiyohi County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Harrison Town Board.
The opposition is based on several considerations. DNR & Soil & Water re concerned about protecting the fragile fish spawning area of Dogfish Bay, as well as the wetlands that would be impacted by the development. The Association is concerned about those issues as well as the dangerous intersection of the proposed access road with the S curve that Co. RD #137 assumes at that point. In a letter to the Kandiyohi County Planning & Zoning Commission, the Association also pointed out that the Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved the designation of Dogfish Bay as a "no wake" zone in 1999, recognizing the importance of the Bay to the fishing health of the Lake. The Harrision Town Board opposes the proposal because of the additional expense incurred to maintain a gravel road. It wants the road paved, and reaffirmed that requirement at a June 20 meeting.
At the June 10 Planning & Zoning Commission hearing on the proposal, William Bernard asserted that the development would not adversely impact the Bay as the lots would be big and costly, with the buyers sure to be careful to maintain the value of their investment. This argument was questioned by Diamond Lake residents who noted the shallow nature of the Bay, the incompatibility of "no wake" with recreational watercraft, and the spill back of springtime waters onto at least one of the proposed lots. The possibility of an Environmental Impact Statement and the DNR's buying the property for preservation were also raised, with residents promising to look into these matters. Questions about not allowing the removal of trees on the shoreline and increased lake traffic were also raised.
Surprisingly, the chairman of the Commission accused Mr. Bernard of blowing smoke regarding preservation of the shoreline. He noted that policing of restrictions is next to impossible. Other commission members pointed out that they could not prevent development, only place certain restrictions on it, namely: approval of the Highway Department for the proposed road, deletion of the low lying lot from the plat, septic systems placed on high ground, wider width for the lots, and protection of the impact zone. A decision on the plat was postponed until Monday, July 10 at 7:00 PM at the Kandiyohi County Health & Human Services Building on North Highway 71, Willmar. All interested Diamond Lake residents are urged to attend. The matter is scheduled to be first on the agenda.
This year we are trying something different. Instead of a potluck lunch, we are having a coffee pot break at 9:00 AM, Saturday, August 12 at the Diamond Lake County Park shelter. This is an opportunity for you to share your concerns or just meet neighbors around the lake. This is probably the only chance we have to meet in common in our capacity as Diamond Lake residents. We are working on a speaker, possibly someone to discuss lawn fertilization and explain soil mapping using the GPS (Global Positional System) technology. Hope to see you there!
Soil Sampling Project
The Association has decided to offer FREE soil sampling tests to lakeshore residents. The purpose of the test is to educate residents as to the composition of their soil and to recommend what is needed and what may be avoided. We assume that some property owners may be overloading their soil with phosphorous, and this results in runoff into the lake, with a consequent enhancement of noxious weeks.
The testing will be done by Eco-Agri of Willmar. The Association has hired Brian Sietsema, a 15-year old summer resident of the lake, to collect the samples. Brian will try to contact approximately every third house for permission to sink his probe into about 4 spots - - if you are one of the lucky ones who is home when Brian calls, you can direct him to an area or just let him take a representative sampling, front and back. The samples will be delivered to Eco-Agri who will analyze them, mail findings to the property owner and compile the results for the Association.
Bill Olson of Eco-Agri things this is a good time to be doing the sampling as property owners may wish to work their soil in late summer/early fall. The funding is made possible by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Clean Water Partnership Grant now in its final year. Please welcome Brian in his efforts to implement the Association's project.
Swamp Thing - by Dave Gunner
Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by an Atwater resident concerned about wetland protection. It was written for a college course he took. Since is seemed relevant to the concerns of the Association, and since it placed the issue of wetland preservation in (recent) historical perspective, I thought I would include it in the "News". The names in parenthesis refer to his sources which, in the interest of space, I have not included here. Anyone interested can call me for the references at 974-8861.
So swamp-friendly was Henry David Thoreau that one summer day he "eased his wiry body into the pungent mixture of decomposing leaves, stagnant water, and with only eyes and nose above the water, proceeded through the small wetland, observing intimately all the life present" (Schildgen). Although most of us don't find this immersion very appealing, we need to be aware that our wetlands need protection. Wetlands in the United States are being depleted at an alarming rate.
Protection and use of wetlands has become a controversial issue (Niering). Since less than one-half of the original 215 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States still exist, restoration and creation of all types of wetland are being vigorously pursued (Niering). Wetlands are areas, other than lakes or rivers, whose soils are saturated with water for indefinite or prolonged periods of time. They are also lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems; they include estuaries, marshes, swamps, bogs, wet meadows, potholes, sloughs, and river overflow lands, as well as shallow lakes and ponds (Hair). Over the years, valuable wetlands have been lost to agriculture and commercial development (Niering). Research has documented the ecological value of wetlands, and Congress passed the 1986 Emergency Wetlands Resource Act in response to the concern over the depletion of these areas. Congress found that: (1) wetlands play an integral role in maintaining the quality of life through material contributions to our national economy, food supply, water supply and quality, flood control, fish, wildlife, and plant resources and thus to the health, safety, recreation, and economic well-being of all the citizens of the nation, and (2) that wetlands provide habitat essential for breeding, spawning, nesting, migration, wintering and the ultimate survival of a major portion of the migratory birds, resident fish and wildlife of the nation. In 1989, Congress also sought to slow the destruction of wetlands with the passage of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (Grossman 346). Avoidance of wetland encroachment is the preferred goal, since most wetlands were considered to be waste area. Since then, the ecological importance of wetlands has been recognized (Wetlands). The benefits of wetlands include biochemical processes i.e. nutrient cycling, wildlife habitat, a major role in several food chains, hydrological benefits, i.e. flood control, water quality, and socioeconomic benefits (Shapard).
The realization that wetlands contribute significantly to our nation's well-being has now been sufficiently documented (Sharard). No area of contention is more acrid than that of wetlands. In 1986, federal agencies began to toughen enforcement of the Clean Water Act and Congress imposed new limits on agricultural conversion of wetlands to croplands (Grossman 346). Between 1985 and 1995, more that one million acres of swamps, marshes, potholes and other land features known as wetlands were lost to agriculture and urban development (Shapard). In the first comprehensive survey of the nation's wetlands to be published since 1990, and the first to show the effects of this new policy, the U.S> Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that during the 1980's wetlands continued to disappear at an average rate of 170,000 acres a year (Grossman 346).
In 1986, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (Burde). The plan seeks federal, state, and local cooperation to save waterfowl habitat. As both the loss of wetlands and the debate over how best to manage these ecosystems continue, the key for local governments in dealing effectively with wetland issues is knowing the amount and the character of wetlands within their jurisdictions and all the options for protection. The bottom line is that local governments with a clear picture of their wetlands are better able to recognize the options that exist for them (Burde). President Bill Clinton pledged in 1993 to actually increase and improve wetlands (Shapard).
The Sierra Club is recommending that Congress cut subsidies for programs that are destroying wetlands and for programs that still allow building in wetlands (Rebuttoni). "Americans are paying at least 7 billion dollars a year in taxes to subsidize federal programs that destroy wetlands" (Rebuttoni). The Sierra Club charged that, "developers and wetland-polluters have given over 25 million dollars or more too congressional and presidential candidates since 1989" (Rebuttoni). Hundreds of native plant and animal species have been lost as native wetlands are transformed into new suburbs, industrial parks and larger farms (Rebuttoni).
We must be aware of the rate at which our wetlands are being depleted, Dr. Michael Balick o the New York Botanical Gardens said: "It's still very important to talk about the importance of our wetlands, for the spirit and soul, for the environment, to everyone from policy makers and ranging right down to small farmers" (Redvin). The beauty around us really can help us find common ground. Unlike Thoreau, most colonizers saw nothing sacred or even mildly interesting in swamp, marsh, or bog, which were considered diseased wastelands, fit only to be plundered, or drained out of existence for agriculture and urban development, an assault that continues today at the rate of over 100,000 acres per year. From the earliest draining of marshes around Boston to the Reagan Administration opening millions of acres of wildlife refuges to oil drilling (Schildgen). Not of course, that decisions about land are easy to make. More important growth plans not only demand preservation of all wetlands, but also require that when farmers sell their land, old drainage tiles must be knocked out, meaning more wetlands will be created (Rebuttoni). Yet when people take a break from arguing and look at the world God has made, they generally want to keep it and nurture it. It's the rare person who feels no sense of loss is seeing condos line the coasts, or hearing of the extinction of any species. The severe depletion, degradation, and plunder of our natural wetlands has continued long enough and must be stopped. It's high time the politicians and environmentalists alike put their differences aside and help alleviate this devastating problem that continues in our nation today.
Soil Mapping Incentive Available
As part of the Association's effort to encourage lake-friendly fertilization of farm fields, the Association is offering a $2.00/acres subsidy ($1,500 maximum per farmer) to farmers to test and map their soils. The idea is that by testing and mapping farmers will know precisely where to apply their fertilizer, rather than spreading it wholesale over a large area in the hope that it is generally beneficial. Technology has advanced so far that with the aid of these maps and the assistance of global positioning systems, farmers can now apply a customized and calibrated amount of plant food to their fields. This has the obvious benefits of avoiding over-application (with consequent run-over) and saving money by reducing the need for fertilizer.
To be eligible farmers merely need to send a copy of their bill for testing/mapping services to Treasurer John Hanson, or one of the Association officers, along with a description of the applicable acres, the number of acres, and the date the expense was incurred (which must be after August 1, 2000, but before April 1, 2001). We have earmarked $7,500 for this project, so reimbursement will be on a first-come first-serve basis. While the program is designed to encourage farmers who have not yet participated in this kind of effort to give it a try, all farmers are eligible provided they meet the aforementioned guidelines.
Central Lakes Cooperative of Atwater (974-8868) offers the service locally, but there may be other providers as well. Fall is probably the best time to do the work, being after harvest but before the snow accumulates - Cenex will drive right onto the field to do the necessary work.
Dues... Last Chance!
If you have not yet paid your Association Dues, please do so now! We will be publishing a list of paid-up member in the next (Labor Day) issue of "Diamond Lake News". A letter and envelope to make things easier are provided with this newsletter. If, for some reason, this is not the case please mail your $25 to John Hanson, Treas., Diamond Lake Area Rec. Assn., 15375 NE 75th Ave., Atwater, MN 56209. Thanks for your support. (P.S. The Lake Directory referenced in the letter is last year's issue - all members were given a copy last year).
More Notes from the Septic Pit
Marvin Miller has worked for Paynesville Septic for about 10 years. He pumps tanks - anything from private homes to sand pits (favored by large poultry producers) to car washes. After he pumps them out, he generally applies the proceeds on local farms, which must be certified annually. Even he must be certified annually by taking 16 hours of continuing education courses offered by the State of Minnesota. Just for the record, eligible land must have no more than a 2% slope, be at least 800 ft. from a waterway or wetlands, and take no more than 50,000 gallons per acre per year. The farms they spread on are seeded into grass, and they haven't had a problem yet due to excessive moisture. If they did, they could empty at the Paynesville treatment plant.
Marvin recommends that tanks be pumped at least every 3 years. He calls it "cheap insurance" given the cost of installing a new system. Homeowners have a tendency to ignore the septic tank if everything seems to be going well. But even if you don't have a drainage problem a crust could be building up inside your tank, impeding pumping and necessitating more expensive procedures. He does not recommend additives. While they can be affective in dissolving solids, this can result in those solids being sent to the drainfield, clogging tile. A good system will have those solids sink to the bottom of the tank, with just the water draining off, thus adding to the life of the system. Probably worse than additives for the septic system is a garbage disposal - - I myself recommend a compost heap for that. Disposals can be so hard on septic systems that Stearns County now requires two tanks wherever they are installed.
Spring to mid-summer is the best time to pump out your system. This will allow the tank to refill and bacteria to get to work before going dormant with the coldest weather. Marvin's service costs about $80/system. His procedure agitates the contents and back washes it. He'll tell you if there's a problem that is beyond his ability to address. And his tank can hold up to 2000 gallons larger than some other units. Marvin Miller can be reached at 320-243-4267 (office) or 320-24-2179 (cell phone).
Chain of Lakes Drawdown - by Tom Sykora
A drawdown would have many benefits to local residents. The carp population would be reduced, allowing beneficial plants to flourish. These plants would in turn attract more ducks and waterfowl to the lakes to feed. Diamond would benefit from Hubbard, Schultz and Wheeler being able to remove more of the watershed nutrients. Instead of allowing nutrients such as phosphorus to pass through, they would act more as nutrient "sponges", if carp are removed and plants allowed to come back.
Local Hydrology, Fisheries, and Wildlife departments of the Minnesota DNR are currently working with the Lake Association to sort out the feasibility of cleaning up these three lakes to help the water quality of Diamond Lake.
Members of the Diamond Lake Association have begun meetings with local DNR staff regarding a temporary drawdown on the Hubbard, Schultz and Wheeler chain of lakes.
After doing water quality testing in our study, it was determined that over 70% of the phosphorus coming into Diamond Lake was entering through the carp trap from these three referenced lakes. Hubbard, Schultz and Wheeler are "eutrophic" or nutrient saturated, according to Blue Water Science, and incapable of absorbing nutrients during a watershed event such as a heavy rain. In other words, instead of acting as a natural soak or sink for chemicals, those lakes simply allow phosphorus to pass through to Diamond.
The Lake Association is considering a fish kill to promote beneficial weed growth. Beneficial weeds in these three lakes would utilize phosphorus and remove it from the water column. However, if there are excess carp in a body of water, plant life suffers. Carp eat plants, and will root out plant life, rendering a lake incapable of acting as a nutrient sink. Using chemicals is how some lake associations kill carp. A drawdown is much closer to a naturally occurring event during dry periods, o these three shallow lakes. (Carp are not native to the US, were brought here from Europe and have no natural predators to control their populations).
Since the majority of the nutrient load coming into Diamond Lake is from the Hubbard, Schultz, and Wheeler chain of lakes, the Lake Association is currently investigating the feasibility of draining down one or more of these lakes to do a fish kill this fall after duck season. Steve McComas of Blue Water Science has helped us with preliminary numbers, planning and identification of potential problems. Current the DNR is doing a hydrology study of the relative elevations of these three lakes, to better understand the mechanics of a potential drawdown. With the water levels being low this year, timing seems right for a carp/fish kill with the least possible expense.
Department Of Anonymous Letters
It Saddens Me to Think!
It saddens me to think some people think that our ditches are a dumping ground. I was coming home from work on a Friday on the east side of the lake when I passed a gentleman dumping a bag of leaves into the ditch. I wanted to stop and go back to him to ask him if this was a new dumping site. But, instead I thought a letter would be better.
HE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT I HAVE SEEN dumping their garbage into our ditches. When you drive around Diamond Lake, there are other people dumping their garbage into the ditches.
STOP AND LOOK A MINUTE! We pay our Diamond Lake Association dues to clean up our lake, so why not keep our ditches clean too?
We have a landfill in the City of Atwater. Call the City Office and they will give you the key. It only costs $5 a truck-full to dump your leaves and brush off.
PLEASE STOP! We don't want our ditches looking like the county landfill.