Archived Story

Lake drawdown project reaches major milestone [UPDATED]

Published 8:47am Tuesday, June 14, 2011 Updated 11:48am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday, June 10, was a red letter day at Lake Christina southeast of Ashby. On that day pumps were successfully tested prior to the July start date of a major water drawdown.

The goal is to improve water quality and see ducks return to what conservationists say was once a vibrant waterfowl migration habitat.

“The tests went well today,” said Rick Cariveau, an employee of Maple Plain-based Electrical Installation and Maintenance Company. “There’s no reason that pumping can’t begin this coming month, as expected.”

The $1.5 million project is made possible by a 2009 grant to Ducks Unlimited from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund. The recommendation came from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Local advocates for the project, including Otter Tail County Commissioner John Lindquist of rural Dalton, have expressed their enthusiasm for improving water quality and seeing ducks return to Lake Christina.

The project in rural Ashby was begun last year, made possible by Minnesota voters who approved the legacy amendment in 2008. Their yes votes established the dedicated funding measure.

The Minnesota State Legislature, in turn, created the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The council is charged with recommending projects and expenditures from the fund to the legislature that restores, enhance or protects wetlands, prairies, forests and other fish and wildlife habitats in Minnesota.

Waterfowl habitat on Lake Christina recovered after fish toxicant applications in 1987 and 2003, that reduced fish abundance in the lake. Unfortunately, adverse conditions in the lake returned. This caused plants to disappear, along with the aquatic invertebrates that supported abundant numbers of ducks.

Nonetheless, Lake Christina conservationists sought alternative solutions. Fast forward to this month, and Ashby area conservationists and duck hunters are very optimistic.

After the lake drawdown begins in July, a permanent electric pump station will allow the DNR to periodically draw down water levels in Lake Christina when needed. This will enhance the lake’s aquatic ecology for ducks and other migratory birds.

Water from Lake Christina will flow into nearby Pelican Lake and from there to Pomme de Terre Lake and into the Pomme de Terre River.

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