A shoreline makeover at Sibley Lake Park in Pequot Lakes continued on a recent Saturday morning when lake association members moved the fishing pier to its new location and Pequot Lakes Boy Scout Troop 102 members planted native grasses and shrubs down to the lake.

Work at the park is an Eagle Scout project for Sean Ryan, who along with fellow Scouts and leaders planted shrubs where a set of deteriorating steps previously led down to the fishing pier on Sibley Lake. The pier was moved just north of its former location, where the city dock once stood, and people can easily find it by following the former road bed.

"It's a gradual path down," said lake association member Mark Jurchen. "People can access it from both the north and south ends (of the park)."

Stairs will eventually be built to the pier, and signs will be put up directing people to it.

The improvements are part of a $22,000 Runoff Mini-Grant the lake association received from the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District to restore the buffer zone and shoreline at Sibley Lake Park. Jurchen said three-quarters of the work is done, with three small projects left to do.

The goal is to reduce phosphorous entering the lake through sediment runoff. Thus, the steps from the old roadbed to the shoreline were removed, and the native grasses and shrubs planted to prevent runoff from heavy rains into the lake. The stairs were a conduit of water that led to shoreline erosion.

A couple of severe washouts at the north end of the park were repaired, with heavy rock placed in one formerly washed out area to direct where rainwater will carry sediment, Jurchen said.

"We're trying to prevent the erosion and reduce phosphorous levels to the lake," he said.

After Sibley Lake was added to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's list of impaired lakes in 2014 for having phosphorus readings that just barely exceeded standard levels, the lake association began doing testing to determine whether the problem was within the lake itself or the watershed.

Jurchen said the watershed is the biggest contributing factor, so work is being done to reduce the sediment runoff from rains. The association believes some sediment comes from agriculture pasture land as well.

The lake association recently received another $20,000 Runoff Mini-Grant from the Crow Wing SWCD designed for shoreline or watershed remediation. Plans are to use those funds in 2017-18 to repair a severe washout on 13th Avenue Southwest that contributes to phosphorous levels through sediment erosion.

Jurchen said those Legacy Amendment funds are important to implement remediation projects.

"This is actually trying to do something," he said. "For us, it's not just an environmental issue in our area. It's economical."

Clean water is what brings people - both tourists and permanent residents - to the lakes area, he said.

Jurchen gave kudos to lake association members and to the SWCD for being so supportive of the lake association's efforts to improve Sibley Lake. Pequot Lakes city staff also provided in-kind work at the park, and Schrupp Excavating removed the steps and completed a majority of the landscaping.