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“We counted just over 50 fish,” he said Monday, “better than last year’s 40-plus. We actually think we get a lot of biomass out when teams go out and practice ahead of time as well. One team shared with me, ‘we had a 500-pound night because conditions were just right.’ It all helps.”
Officials say the lake’s new stature as a public amenity has helped win funding for attempts to clean it up.
“In the last couple of years we’ve put $100,000 into it, including 2,000 feet of shore land restoration,” Bokman said. And those hundreds of lakeside property owners have stepped up as well.
“In 2007 we hired a firm to sample, and 98 percent of the lake was plagued with curly leaf pond weed, which is a phosphorus source when it dies off around July 4,” she said. “We had meetings around the lake and they all agreed to increase their levy, which they pay beyond property taxes, a special levy for lake improvement, up from a total of $5,000 a year to $40,000, which is matching local, state and federal funds we’re obtaining.”
An expert this fall will do a carp density survey, electrocuting the fish and pulling them out.
Water quality is a problem common to lots of lakes, including other major recreational and park-linked lakes in Scott County, such as Cleary, Prior and Spring Lake, which carry official warnings pertaining to either swimming, or eating fish with mercury in their tissue, or both. The state has a website outlining those issues at dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind.
How about other fish that could help eat carp? asked Commissioner Tom Wolf.
“There is data that crappies can prey on young carp and their eggs,” Nelson said. “The population we see are old, large fish, so we will see what ages are there; crappies may be keeping them under control.”
Decades of farming nearby and lawn fertilizer from lake owners are hard things to reverse, experts warn. The county is treating for pond weed, which could be helping, but an official report says there’s been “no change in water quality in Cedar Lake since 2006,” based on 2012 data. Results for 2013 won’t be available until late this year.
County Commissioner Jon Ulrich asked about bounties for carp as a way of spurring folks out onto the water to grab some.
“My concern is,” Nelson said, “are you sure they came from Cedar Lake? If carp are a big issue, a bigger longer-term solution is to put up fish barriers preventing them from spawning and so bringing numbers down by attrition.”
David Peterson • 952-746-3285