Union Grove Lake restoration will shift in to high gear when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources adds the 105-acre lake to its lake improvement planning in 2014.
Union Grove Lake has long been on the radar for a lake improvement project.
In April 2008, the DNR used EPA section 319 funding to hire a watershed project coordinator who works for the Tama County Soil and Water Conservation District to help landowners in the 6,600-acre watershed implement targeted conservation practices to reduce soil and phosphorus from reaching the lake.
As progress continued in the watershed, a 116-acre parcel at the top of the lake went to auction.
This strategically important piece of land that filters 40 percent of the watershed was purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and held until the DNR’s watershed improvement section, using EPA section 319 funds, and local supporters could purchase the $695,000 parcel.
This acquisition will be seeded with perennial prairie grasses and an existing wetland will be expanded providing permanent water quality protection for the lake.
“Seeing the progress in the watershed and coupled with securing the important parcel, we felt comfortable to begin planning the lake restoration,” said George Antoniou, lake restoration program coordinator.
Antoniou said the project will include dredging silt from the upper end of the lake, deepen the lake, stabilize the shoreline and look for opportunities to enhance fish habitat. Work would begin in 2015 and continue in to 2016, weather permitting.
“The lake will be drawn down, fish eliminated to get rid of carp and yellow bass, and the lake outlet will be modified to prevent rough fish from reentering the lake,” he said. “What we expect to have after the work is completed is significantly improved water clarity, an improved and more consistent fishery and nearly 10 feet mean lake depth.”
An improved Union Grove Lake when paired with the renovated state park will likely see increased visits and use of the area.
The renovated campground features a new shower house and bathroom, nine campsites with electricity, water and sewer connections and two campsites with electricity among the 25 campsites available.
The $400,000 campground renovation project was completed in 2012.
Part of the renovation included adding a new four season modern family cabin with air conditioning.