By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN These days, Dutch Lake and Mallard Pass in Howard Lake are cleaner and brighter which is the way that the Dutch/Mallard Pass Lake Association plans to keep it, with the help of an ice fishing contest fundraiser.
The association is planning the fundraiser Saturday, Jan. 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dutch Lake at the public boat landing. The winner will receive a $100 cash prize.
There is a $10 registration fee.
The proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards continued improvements for Dutch Lake.
“We’re very interested in the health of the watershed,” said member Christie Wood, who owns an 80-acre tree farm near the lake.
When the association first started a few years ago, the condition of the lake was less than ideal.
“You would not believe what we pulled up out of the lake our first day,” Wood said. Mattresses, old furniture, and other non-biodegradable items littered the waters.
Water clarity was also a problem.
The association has been collecting water samples for the past three years.
For one test, a secchi disk is dropped down into the lake. A measurement is then recorded, telling how deep the disk drops before it is not visible anymore.
Initially, the disk disappeared at less than a one-foot depth. Now, it’s greater than two feet.
“This year, the numbers are the best they’ve ever been,” Wood said, adding that her goal is to get a reading of five feet someday.
Chemical water tests and sampling are also done, which costs about $250 to $275. The tests are necessary in order to qualify for grants, because most applications call for at least three years of data, Wood explained. Members pay dues of $25 per year to pay for the testing.
“We’ve done all the groundwork,” she said. Now, the group is hoping to get more money for continued lake improvements.
“Our association has a lot of work to do,” Wood said. “It takes a long time.”
Although the lake still isn’t perfect, the association has made substantial progress so far.
For example, members made the boat landing safer and more usable by clearing dead trees, removing buckthorn, and adding signage and lighting.
They have clean-up days each spring and fall, and continually work to make Dutch Lake an asset to the community.
“We want to keep it a place for the entire public to enjoy not a dump ground or party spot,” Wood said.
Short-term goals for the association include cleaning the shoreline, removing carp and other “rough” fish, encouraging more people to use barley straw (to decrease algae), and increasing meeting attendance.
Installing an aeration system and increasing the walleye population are a couple of the long-term projects the group hopes to accomplish.
Wood said she hopes that the association’s efforts will help the lake get more recreational use.
“People would enjoy it more,” she said. “It would increase the number of species in the lake for sportsmen.”
Meeting info and more
The Dutch/Mallard Pass Lake Association meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Howard Lake Middle School art room.
For more information, contact Pat and Lana Wilson at (320) 543-2803, or Greg and Christie Wood at (320) 543-2944.
For more about the group, visit the Dutch/Mallard Pass Lake Association web site at www.dmpla.org.