Volunteers undertake shoreline restoration project on Trout Lake on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes
Projects protect property investments and lakes
In sweltering heat, a crew of volunteers flocked to a lakefront property on Trout Lake with a goal to do their part to protect the land and the lake.
They helped undertake another lakeshore restoration project Monday, June 7, on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes.
Property owner Merry Keefe had experienced erosion of her shoreline for years and said she sought restoration not only to help her from losing her property, but also to help protect the lake quality.
" And I know it's gonna take three years for it to not look weird, but it's exciting. It's really cool. And the other part that is really, really neat was I got to meet people from Shelley and Kristie and people from WAPOA. And just hearing the dedication and commitment that they have to this kind of thing was really exciting "
— Merry Keefe.
"I was really aware of how much shoreline I was losing and I'd heard about the project, and realized that it was not just an issue of me losing land, but was really about the water quality and about native plants," Keefe said. "The more I talked to Jeff Laurel (with the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association) about it, and I saw some projects, I thought, 'Well, I need to do this.'"
Volunteers helped install woven bundles of willow and native shoreline plants to create a buffer zone at the edge of the water, which could better stand up to wave action that causes erosion.
Restorations like this are becoming more common in the area not only for the health of the lakes, but also because the property owners continue to pay taxes even as the water line takes over more and more of their property.
"It seems a lot of property owners are getting excited about doing shoreline restoration and helping the pollinators and helping restore their shoreline while losing shoreline property they are still paying taxes on," said Kristie Roedl, WAPOA shoreline restoration director.
Keefe got help from WAPOA to help organize the restoration and its volunteers. She contacted WAPOA and asked for a site summary. There was a site visit with documentation followed by a bidding process and applications for funding. It's a very detailed process.
"There's five going in in the month of June that I've been involved with," Roedl said, adding she also recently conducted an online Zoom open house where she talked about six different projects she's involved with.
Limited funding is available annually for such programs through the Soil and Water Conservation District, but it must be requested early.
"We get about $20,000 to do shoreline projects or rain gardens and things like that," said Adam Maleski, district technician with the Crow Wing County SWCD. "Now that we've done the Pine River Comprehensive Watershed Plan, it's opened the door for more funding. We get roughly $90,000 on a two- to three-year basis to do shoreline projects, stormwater projects. That's going to open up more funding for landowners in the future now that it's been completed."
Though many are starting to embrace a more natural shoreline, there are still those who prefer riprap and sand beaches, which can both contribute to erosion. Keefe said she still sees barges full of sand on the lake from time to time.
Those within the One Watershed area for Crosslake and the Whitefish Chain can request information on restoration by contacting Roedl at email@example.com.
"Then I will contact them and talk about their site and then go and look at their site and see if it would be something that maybe we could set up a site visit for," Roedl said. "One thing that people need to understand is if you're possibly looking for funding support, you can't be using rocks or riprap or anything like that. If you have some already and it's there, then you can work around it but you can't install it."
"These projects are designed to keep soil on the shoreline, or in this case, to add valuable shoreline back and protect water quality in the area," Maleski said. "They are also incorporating native plants. So they're good for all the animals, the critters, the pollinators, things that are getting attention. So they're good for that as well. "
Keefe was more than happy to see the shoreline restoration project coming to fruition.
"Oh, it's overwhelming," she said. "It's amazing. I had no idea that they would bring in this many people. And I mean, obviously, it's a big job and fortunately we have some people who really are good with the hammers because this is kind of a rocky shoreline. And I know it's going to take three years for it to not look weird, but it's exciting. It's really cool."
Keefe also enjoyed meeting people from the different organizations who came together for the project and its cause.
"Just hearing the dedication and commitment that they have to this kind of thing was really exciting," she said.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.