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Paynesville Press - July 17, 2002

"Visioning" session held for Rice, Koronis

By Michael Jacobson

Improving water quality in Rice Lake and Lake Koronis was an overwhelming priority to the over 200 people who attended a joint "visioning" session for the two area lakes on Saturday night.

The "visioning" session, organized by the Rice Lake and Koronis Lake associations, is one of the first steps in preparing a management plan for each lake. The plan - and the event - was possible thanks to a grant from the Health Lakes Partnership, a program through the Central Minnesota Initiative Fund.

Following a light supper, the participants listened to a short presentation by community planning consultant Lindberg Ekola, who led the session, and then broke into small groups to define their vision for the lakes. The working part of the meeting lasted three hours.

"We all love lakes," said Ekola, in his introduction for the "visioning" session. "They're important to our lifestyles."

While most of the people attending the session were lake residents, nearly a fifth were farmers and city residents. Both Rice and Koronis are fed by the North Fork of the Crow River, a watershed that feeds the water from over 120,000 acres to the two area lakes.

Water quality was identified as the top priority, both in an individual survey and by the group work. Possible ways to improve the water quality were having more settling ponds (both for surface water and for stormwater within the city); reducing the use of chemicals and fertilizer in the lake, on lawns, and on farms; enforcing existing laws for feedlots and septic systems; and keeping and restoring wetlands.

Other concerns were the amount of aquatic vegetation in the lakes (which some participants felt were a detriment to enjoying the lakes), keeping the lakes free of Eurasian watermilfoil (an exotic species of weed that grows rapidly and can clog a lake), and reducing water surface conflicts, especially regarding the use of personal watercraft.

As for the vegetation, one possible solution was education, teaching lake residents and users about the good weeds (which support fish life) and the bad weeds (those which do not), which could aid in the removal of the bad weeds while retaining the good ones to help the fish populations.

As for exotic species, like Eur-asian watermilfoil, which is now present in Green Lake, education and prevention are key, as eradication is difficult and expensive.

As for personal watercraft, one suggestion was to have a list explaining courteous operation, which could be given out by the lake associations, by local resorts, and published to inform the public, as well as posted at public landings.

All of the suggestions from the "visioning" session will be used to develop a lakeshed plan for Rice and Koronis.

Both Rice and Koronis have committees working on these plans. For Rice, members are: Kay Hanson, lake association president; Dave Brinkman; Jim Ellickson; Brent Holmberg; Sharon Ihrke; Tim Lane; Wanetta Skartvedt; and Gary Skartvedt. For Koronis, members are: Peter Jacobson, lake association president; Merrily Blagen; Dale Lorenz; Warren Nehring; Bruce Nokleby; Karen Rowley; Terry Schaefer; and Jay Thompson.

Results from the "visioning" session are expected to be tabulated by August, when a summary report should be available. The respective committees will meet in August and September to complete a draft lake management plan by October, when another public meeting would be held to present the draft plan. After revisions, the final plan should be done by December. Preliminary survey results

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