Local lakeshore owners provide conservation education

This article submitted by Stephanie Everson on 07/22/97.

Many people, local and out-of-towners, enjoy the varied activities and simple serenity that is the complex living ecosystem of Lake Koronis. Everyone in the community of Paynesville benefits from a healthy and delicately balanced lake, whether through fishing, water sports, or the city's economy. Lake Koronis is directly dependent on the community to either keep it flourishing, or gradually see it die.

Lake Koronis has been through years of clear pure waters as well as deep black muck. Throughout the years there has been finger pointing and accusations, and blame has been batted around from group to group, but one local organization has made the decision to concentrate on solutions rather than blame.

With the belief that most everyone in the community wants, and benefits from, a clean ecologically balanced lake, the Koronis Lake Association has spent several years with the intent of providing well researched information to lake shore owners and local citizens about preventative medicine for the lake. Dale and Lora Lorenz and Richard and Kathy Olmscheid are a large part of the organization's most recent endeavor.

The four, who are all lake shore owners, spent two days learning about lake conservation from instructors from the Minnesota Extension Service, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Minnesota Environmental Protection Agency. They now serve as shore land volunteers, whose main duties are to provide conservation information and techniques to anyone who wants it.

Aquatic plants aren't weeds
One of the most important ways of maintaining lake shore property is to allow native plants to continue where they are. They may seem like a nuisance, but without the right plants, the ecological chain becomes upset.

These plants, such as cattails and bull rushes, serve as filters. They control erosion by slowing waves against the shore, reduce ice damage in the winter, and also reduce nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. These plants also help control run-off from lawn fertilizers, and sediments that find their way into the lake.

Reduce your impact
Although a beach is often part of the fun of owning lake shore property, the lack of vegetation destroys habitat for various wildlife that is natural and essential to the workings of that ecosystem. Minimize beach size, especially if the lake property is only used a few weeks out of the year. Water species live there the entire year, but, in some cases, can be drastically affected in a matter of weeks.

Shoreline retaining walls also pose special problems for a lake environment, as well as lake shore owners. They destroy habitat for, primarily, Walleye, northern pike, frogs, and turtles. Wave action and ice can also break down the base of a wall. Rock riprap combined with natural landscaping has a longer life expectancy and can achieve much the same effect, while retaining habitat.

Also, tires used as bumpers on boating docks can float away if not secured properly. Lora Lorenz found a tire in Lake Koronis that may have gotten there in that way.

Use appropriate fertilizers
Many lawn fertilizers cause excessive nutrient run-off when used on lake shores, and studies have found fertilizers are not even needed on most lawns and soils. For a small fee, a soil sample kit can be obtained from the University of Minnesota soil testing laboratory.

Mulching is a good way to maintain adequate amounts of nutrients and also retain soil moisture. If fertilization is needed, two light applications are better than one heavy one, and area retailers sell phosphorous free fertilizers.

"A lot of this whole thing is just awareness," Dale Lorenz commented. Lora also mentioned that it's important for area citizens to remember that everyone lives downstream. What one person allows to enter their lake will eventually affect someone down the road. Overall, the most important concept the Lorenz' and Olmscheids stressed was prevention. It is infinitely easier to avoid a problem than to clean it up later.

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