Short-term pain equals long-term gain on Fulda LakeWORTHINGTON — There is no long-term gain with out short-term pain in the world of fish and wildlife management.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — There is no long-term gain with out short-term pain in the world of fish and wildlife management.
This difficult concept is a major contributor in the lack of success in many worthwhile projects. The educational processes to get all of the affected stakeholders on board for a particular project can take a long time. This difficult learning process has been overcome locally by dedicated folks and lots of elbow grease.
My hat is off to Mark Gulick, who was a wildlife biologist working out of the Windom office of the Department of Natural Resources. He no longer works in that position, but he was the one who started the ball rolling on the Fulda Lake reclamation project.
It was initially started as a wildlife project that would have included a two-year phase of temporary lake-level draw down. This proposed draw down was designed as a habitat improvement project. This project, as initially presented, would have re-established both emergent and submergent plant life.
Bank stabilization and sediment consolidation would also have resulted from this project. In the early stages, this plan died on the vine.
The reason for this untimely death of a great project was the inability of the surrounding landowners to agree on the details. In Minnesota, the standard for a project like this one would require that 100 percent of the affected property owners agree on the steps that are to be taken.
As you well know, in order for you to get 100 percent approval on any issues, you would have to include only one person. Add to that number one more person, and the odds of 100-percent agreement goes down dramatically. Now try to get this unanimous consent with approximately 65 land owners and this becomes a very monumental undertaking.
In order for this project to move off dead center, it took the merging of the Murray County Commissioners, City of Fulda, Fulda Sportsman’s Club and the Minnesota DNR. These are the dedicated folks who went on the road to educate all of the parties involved, and after much effort and two years’ time, the impossible happened. One-hundred percent of the affected property owners signed on to the reclamation of Fulda Lake. The end result is a plan that lowered the lake level by 27.5 inches. This is huge in the overall potential of the project.
The outlet dam was rebuilt to allow for water-level management, and the draw down began. In addition to the draw down and its associated benefits, the project progressed even further to include the removal of all of the fish that are currently in the lake. This will be a result of low oxygen levels and the addition of rotenone in the fall of 2008. This will allow for the removal of the undesirable fish and the opportunity to restock the lake with more desired fish species.
One thing that is vital in any lake reclamation project is to do all that can be done to try to restrict the undesirable fish from returning. This was accomplished by the installation of an electric fish barrier in the culvert as the outlet crossed Highway 59.
The ultimate end result will hopefully include better water quality, dramatically improved fish and wildlife habitat. And potentially one of the most noticeable effects might be reduced algae blooms in late summer. A much better fishery and the opportunity to angle for a variety of game species should be another big benefit.
I have followed similar issues over the last 20 years, and the success of this project cannot be understated. The residents of Murray County have shown a vision that many other areas of the state can not see or are unwilling to tackle.
Projects like this are usually restricted to the upper reaches of a watershed and normally on smaller systems. There are several like it that have been tried in communities such as St. James, Mountain Lake and others.
For all the reasons stated earlier, 100-percent agreement is a very rare find. This action is a model for other communities, and I hope that the residents of this area will not be shy in sharing their successes with others who might want to move forward on similar endeavors. Partnerships like the one formed by the commissioners, private sporting groups, area residents and the DNR are the only way to achieve success.
When you see one of these folks on the street, make an effort to express your thanks and support. Short-term pain is the only way to achieve long-term gain. These are the ones who made this happen.