After a six year effort, a drawdown is taking place at High Island Lake near New Auburn. The purpose of the drawdown is to improve water quality and aquatic habitat.
The drawdown began Oct. 31, 2008 with the removal of the logs/planks at the dam, which is located on the southern end of the lake at the outlet. According to Deb and Kerry Wuetherich of the Friends of High Island, approximately two feet of water has been lost so far. It is not certain how long the drawdown will take because it is dependent on Mother Nature, they explained. The lake will need to be drawn down far enough to kill the rough fish.
High Island Lake is the largest lake in Sibley County with 1,634 acres, according to the Wuetherichs. The plan is to develop sub-surface aquatic vegetation, which is vital to water quality. Presently there is a lot of muck and silt. High Island Lake is considered a recreational lake for fishing and hunting.
The drawdown is expected to take at least one year, depending on weather conditions. After the drawdown is completed, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will stock High Island Lake with four million walleye fry, in order to establish a fish population, which will also aid water quality improvement. The plan is to leave some of the fish population at High Island Lake, and also use some to stock other lakes.
More than $18,000 was raised at a recent Friends of High Island banquet, held at High Island Hide Away in New Auburn. A large donation was provided by the Conservation Partners of America and the Friends of the Minnesota Valley of Bloomington.
Funds will be used to lower and replace a culvert at the lake’s outlet, to construct rock tile inlets in the watershed, and to establish rain gardens. Two rain gardens are planned in New Auburn this year, they said.
Lisa Broderius, a senior at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School, has spent two years conducting tests of High Island Lake as part of a science fair project. Her test results are being submitted to the state in an effort to receive more funding.