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Bar Harbor's beautified shoreline serves ecological purpose as well

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A $9,000 shoreline restoration project at Bar Harbor Supper Club on Gull Lake in Lake Shore serves several purposes:

• Most important, it effectively captures water runoff from the parking lot and buildings so that harmful sediments like fertilizer don’t reach Gull Lake.

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• It is an effort of many people from different entities.

• It is a beautiful sight.

The joint project involved the DNR, Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Bar Harbor owner John Allen, his family, staff and customers.

The SWCD obtained $3,200 in grant money, which Bar Harbor matched, for the first phase of the project, which included a 16- by 375-foot wide buffer from the lake to the top of the hill across the length of the property.

A crew from the DNR, SWCD, Minnesota Conservation Corps, Bar Harbor and the Allen family planted more than 3,000 native plants.

The project was started in summer 2012, and Allen opted to extend it this past summer at Bar Harbor’s cost after another building and pavilion were built. He praised the work of Heather Baird, aquatic habitat specialist with the DNR in Brainerd, and Darren Mayers, SWCD district technician.

“It met with such favorable review of residents on the lake and customers from an ecological standpoint and aesthetic standpoint,” Allen said.

Baird created the native species plant list for the project and said the DNR contributed $1,000 toward those plants.

“We use native species because they are tolerant of our extreme conditions — hot summers and the dry summers we’ve been having, and the cold winters,” Baird said. “They’re good for pollinators, too.”

Allen was encouraged to plant the entire hill leading to the water, rather than just a strip along the shoreline.

“Why mow the hill?” Baird asked. “That’s something we’re trying to get across to our homeowners and business owners — you can treat your runoff from impervious surfaces but have it look good, too.”

Ron Faust, Gull Chain of Lakes Association (GCOLA) board member, praised the project.

“It’s just spectacular and it’s a fabulous demonstration project because most of the people who come by boat there live on the lake,” he said. “We’re hoping when people see that they’ll consider redoing their own shores in the same fashion because there are multiple advantages to restoring a shore like that.”

Most notable, such shoreline restorations protect the water quality by preventing fertilizer and debris from entering the water through runoff, Faust said.

“At Bar Harbor you can see the habitat they create. It’s covered with bees and other types of creatures that wouldn’t be attracted to Kentucky bluegrass if that’s all that’s there,” Faust said. “One of the goals of our program is to attract habitat.”

He noted there’s zero habitat in stone riprap used on shores.

GCOLA has more grant money from the DNR for use in such shoreland restoration projects. Anyone interested can contact Faust at ronfaust@mac.com.

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