Albert Lea Lake in line for $1.1 million

One of the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s projects passed a major hurdle Friday.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council approved the recommendation of $1.1 million in funding to go toward improving habitat and controlling invasive species on Albert Lea Lake. The recommendation will come before the Legislature for final approval.

Andy Henschel, director of field operations for the district, said in a news release the $1.5 million project calls for installing a naturalized outlet to Albert Lea Lake with a series of arches. An electric fish barrier will also be used to reduce the population of carp in the lake.

“We continue our efforts to improve the water quality in the entire district, from the top to the bottom of the watershed,” Administrator Brett Behnke said. “This project helps us secure the bottom, or the drain, of our lake system.”

The Outdoor Heritage Council was established by the Legislature to provide annual recommendations on how funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund will be used. The fund receives one-third of the money raised by the constitutional Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment.

Behnke said funding was not recommended Friday by the council for a Goose Lake restoration and carp exclusion project; however, the Outdoor Heritage Council stated it would voice support for the project though Minnesota Department of Natural Resources funding. This application is due Wednesday.

A watershed district news release stated the two projects were presented with strong community support. The council commended local officials for bringing forward effective, well-researched projects.

“We’re happy,” Behnke said. “We had a big day today.”

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007