Diamond Lake Area
Recreational Association
Atwater, Minnesota
Diamond Lake News
Eighteenth Annual
September 2000
Annual Meeting A Success

One of the better annual meetings was held at the Park Shelter on Saturday, August 12 at 9 AM.  The turnout was excellent at about 40 people, and the interest in lake matters quite keen.
Paul Rasmussen, Association president, opened with a description of the Schultz-Wheeler-Hubbard drawdown.  Accompanied by enlargements of the project and watershed areas, Paul described efforts to work with the DNR to pump water of out of these feeder lakes as they are the source of much of the nutrients flowing into Diamond. The hope is that by emptying these lakes we will be able to kill off the carp and give beneficial vegetation a chance to reestablish itself.  This vegetation in turn acts as a filter for the water coming in to Diamond.  This would be a good year for the project as water levels are down and less pumping out would be required.  However, it looks like the water would have to be pumped  directly into Diamond Lake as the alternative, the county ditch running out of Diamond to the northwest, would require 2 years of approvals and hearings before passing approval.  The downside to pumping into Diamond is that the nutrient-rich water would be added to Diamond's water.  In Rasmussen's opinion, the long-term benefits are worth the risk.  In response to a question regarding the possibility of filtering the water, Rasmussen noted that to do so would be beyond the resources of the Association.  Gary Fonkert suggested that the creek running from these feeder lakes into Diamond be dredged at the same time. 
Another hot topic was the attempt to develop dog fish bay.  County Commissioner Harlan Madsen explained that this most recent proposal was the third or fourth is his memory.  Even though the project is opposed by the Association, DNR, Harrison Town Board, and Soil & Water, the County Commissioners must act within their legally circumscribed authority.  They can put stipulations on the proposal, but not prohibit it entirely.  Madsen thought a compromise might be in order, as development was inevitable, given the demand for lake property.  Bob Meyerson was not convinced by such inevitability: the lots are not exactly "lake lots", development costs may be too high, the economy can change and so can the laws.  Madsen expected the matter to come to a head at the December Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
Jerry Schwartz of the Atwater Cenex Soil Center stopped by to explain the Association's offer to promote soil mapping by farmers.  The Association will pay $2.00 per acre to any watershed farmer who incurs soil mapping / testing expenses from now until April 1,2001.  The idea is that such practices will help reduce the need for over fertilizing, thus reducing run-off into the lake.
As a complement to this, Brian Sietsema told of his experience in collecting soil samples around the lake.  He had very few turndowns - after all, The Association is picking up the tab.  It took him some 20+ hours to knock on doors and collect 64 samples.  He was probably most surprised by the number of people who wanted to talk with him; he couldn't just zip in and out as he had expected.  The results of the testing are described elsewhere in this newsletter.
Board members were quite please with the meeting.  They figure that the new morning format, where attendees don't have to bring a pot luck dish and don't have to break up the day, and the leafletting done by Brian Sietsema as he circled the lake for samples, contributed to the good attendance.  A couple of attendees did ask that the DNR come next year to talk about fish stocking and other issues.

Dallas Bock (800-645-5648), lake property owner, has volunteered to work with any association members who would like their soil nutrient levels analyzed - he will not pay for the analyses, but will help with the probe and solution.
Jane Richards has suggested that the News publish articles on fish stories and family traditions at the lake - the editor has added that he doesn't care if they are true or not.
A one-year continuation of the Clean Water Partnership grant, to the tune of $35,000 + $35,000 match has been requested to work on the Chain-of-Lakes project.
As my own soil sample phosphorous count was exceedingly high, I spoke with the nursery that put in our lawn.  They claim they did not use any phosphorous (and I certainly don't), but could not remember for sure.  They suggested that the high count might be due to the black dirt brought in to cover the ground.  You can't always get good answers for some of these questions.

Developer Visits Association Board

Bill Bernard took his case for developing Dogfish Bay to the Diamond Lake Association's July monthly board meeting.  Bernard argued that his proposal conformed to sound development practices.  He was requiring that septic tanks drain away from the lake; that he might be willing to put up barriers around spawning areas; that he could have covenants stating that no docks were permitted before June 1 to protect spawning areas.  Tom Sykora, author of the "no wake" zone, offered that nothing more could be done to toughen up the no wake provisions.  Dave Solbrack noted that the area was not suitable for development as it had no access right now but was grown into weeds, and Gordy Bloomquist added that every property owner has the right to create an access, implying that the area was vulnerable anyway once developed.  Russ Johnson feared that jet skis would rip up the fragile vegetation an argued that the developer would be better off selling and banking the proceeds rather than incurring development costs.
Bernard didn't score any points with the Board.  He subsequently tried his luck with the Harrision Town Board by asking that they lift the requirements that the access road to the developed lot be tarred.  That request was denied.  Bernard has until the December 11, 2000 Kandiyohi County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting to provide certain requested information regarding his plat.  All property owners with 1/2 mile of the proposed plat (and no one else) will receive notification of his appearance before the Commission.  Those receiving the letters should notify Board members.
Study of Multiple Benefits from Agriculture
Launched in the Wells Creek and Chippewa River Watersheds

What effects do farms have on communities, the economy, and the environment that move beyond food or fiber production?  While food and fiber products are assigned economic values by the marketplace, the environment and community benefits that farms provide or not.  Some farms may contribute to added environments in water, soil and air quality, wildlife habitat, bio-diversity, and social capital formation.
If certain farming systems prove to have significant off-farm benefits, how can public policy by changed to reflect those benefits?  The Land Stewardship Project and collaborators from the University of Minnesota, Bemidji State University, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have embarked on am ambitious effort to in the Chippewa River and Wells Creed watersheds to analyze in detail the environmental and societal effects of different farming choices, and outline the choices these effects pose for policy makers and consumers.
The research will involve community members in describing both their perceptions about the current way of life in the watershed and their vision for the future.  The Land Stewardship Project will calculate and compare environmental and social benefits and estimate the economic value for identified non-market benefits; analyze selected policies at the local, state, federal or private levels for their capacity to foster the production of multiple benefits; develop recommendations and disseminate information on the findings to a broad range or people; and build the organizational and grassroots support required to move these recommendations forward.
The initial phase of this project will continue through June 2001.  For more information on the project, contact Mara Krink in LSP's Minneapolis office at 612-722-6377 or by e-mail at mkrinke@landstweardshippproject.org.
Movie Corner

An underwater video of Diamond Lake, prepared by limnologist Steve McComas is available for check-out from Bob Meyerson at the Atwater State Bank.  According to reviewer Jane Richards: The video was interesting and informative.  I thought it showed important facts about the weeks on the lake bottom.  I was hoping for more underwater "scenery"  such as fish or whatever is down there.  Encouraging comments were made about improving water conditions.  Thanks to all who participated in making this video. 

Read what others have said about " The Diamond Lake Report 1994  1998":

"Solbracks portrayal of a wild carp is non pareil" Jacques Cousteau
"Best underwater adventure since Lloyd Bridges"  Ester Williams
"Steve McComas makes for a lousy lover"  Monica Lewinsky
"You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more" Richard M. Nixon
"Too much green in it, even though some of the language was pretty blue" Red Fescue
"What's pink and lies on the bottom of the lake?" Moby Dick

Green Lush Lawns - Good For The Lake? - by Elaine Sietsema

The Diamond Lake Association has just completed soil sampling of homeowner's property around the lake.  Bryan Sietsema may have visited your home to do the random sampling.  Three samples were taken at the high water mark.  These samples were then tested at Eco-Agri Labs of Willmar for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
Past articles in this newsletter have discussed the issue of lake and groundwater contamination relating to fertilizing lawns and fields.  In doing research for this article and to acquire knowledge about the soil sampling test results I found the following.
First you need to understand the three chemicals, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.  These are the three key elements for plant growth.
Nitrogen  produces vigorous growth and green color in turf grass.  Too little or too much can cause problems.  Too little leads to slow growth, yellowing of plants and thin turf.  Too much, lease to excessive shoot and leaf growth, reduced root growth, poor tolerance in stress periods.
Phosphorus  is important in stimulating early root growth.  Phosphorus moves very little in the soil, with it being bound tight to soil particles.
Potassium  aids in prevention of turf grass disease and tolerance to environment stresses.
The two fertilizers that cause concern about lake pollution are nitrogen and phosphorus.  Phosphorus is the nutrient essential for plant growth and is also believed to be the primary cause of excessive growth of algae and weeds in lakes.  This is somewhat of a misconception.  The major sources of phosphorus in runoff are from lawn clippings and tree leaves not direct lawn fertilizer.  Other sources come from soil particles either blown into lakes by wind erosion or carried in runoff over bare soil.  Nitrogen generally produces the greatest growth response in plants; the chemical is believed to create excessive blue-green algae (the pea soup days) but the algae also uses the nitrogen gases from the air and does not depend on sources from the water.
To reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loss from your lawn into the lake, split your application of fertilizer into multiple applications during the year and water after each application.  If you have a lush thick lawn you are creating a buffer for these chemicals entering the lake.  Remember that thousands of individual grass shoots make a difficult path for any liquid including water, to move through the grass to reach the lake.  By slowing the speed of water flow across the ground surface, you can allow more time for water to infiltrate the fertilizer into the soil long before it can reach the lake.  As I mentioned some of these chemicals attach to soil particles and if your lawn is thin, the particles can reach the lake quicker than for a healthy thick lawn.
The results of the soil testing show that out of 62 samples, only 4 lawns were lacking phosphorus.  All lawns were low to medium low in nitrogen, while in potassium testing it varied from very low to very high.
So, what does this mean for you and what can you do to help improve the lake quality?  First, maintain a healthy lawn to create a buffer from soil particles reaching the lake.  Only apply the chemicals you need, which is likely to be Nitrogen.  You can buy these specific fertilizers at a local fertilizer company, such as Cenex Fertilizer Company in Atwater, at a lot less cost than over the counter product.  The over the counter products are very high in phosphorous, which 95% of us do not need.  Water after every fertilizer application to allow the chemical to work into the lawn.  The most critical preventive element is to bag the last two lawn clippings of the season and rake and remove leaves.  As the ground gets cold in the fall the lawn cannot absorb the clippings and they blow into the lake.
The information I gathered was from Eco-Agri Labs of Willmar and the University of Minnesota Extension Office website (www.extension.umn.edu).  This is a wonderful and informative site.
First Flake
So you want to be a West Central Snowdrifter?  Well, that's a good choice if you like snowmobiling.  Even though the past several winters have been low on snow, the West Central snowdrifters continue to gain membership.
Activities including, sponsorship of a premiere radar run in January, Sunday trail rides, summer campouts, trail expansion (including a new bridge), a club trip as well as snowmobile safety classes for our youth are all activities of the West Central Snowdrifters.
Maybe you have bought a ticket for a snowmobile or a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.  Both are fund raisers to help enhance snowmobile trail improvements, groomer expenses, donations to youth activities and more.  So your donations are kindly appreciated and put back into our community.
For more information on becoming a West Central Snowdrifter, call Kurt Stranberg at 974-8773.  Membership is just $25.00 for a family, or single membership which includes membership in MN USA!