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Iowa’s Pleasant Creek Lake restoration project nearing completion

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PALO, IOWA – The restoration of Pleasant Creek Lake, Linn County’s largest and most popular lake, that began last fall is nearly complete. All that remains to be finished is some concrete work and seeding the area.

Pleasant Creek Dam had a crack around the gate valve and was leaking water. The valve would not open and was replaced in October 2015. The lake was then lowered 15 feet and work to reshape, deepen and protect much of the lake’s shoreline began.

About six miles of shoreline was shaped and stabilized with more than 55,000 tons of rock to protect the shoreline from eroding, improve habitat and attract fish.

“40,000 cubic yards of lake bed material was pushed farther out into the lake bed to create more diversity in depth and bottom content,” said Paul Sleeper, fisheries management biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Some of that material will become underwater reefs when the lake returns to normal level.

Two new fishing jetties with ADA accessible sidewalks were added to provide access for anglers to deeper water. Five existing fishing jetties were repaired. Four boat ramps have been replaced and extended. Boats can only launch at the main boat ramp at this time. “Use caution when boating while the lake is filling,” said Sleeper. “With the lake not being full there are underwater rock structures just below the surface.”

An ADA accessible boat slip with a concrete sidewalk around it and railings was built at the main boat ramp to make it easier for boaters to enter and exit their boat. “This will be a great place to tie up your boat in the early spring and fall when the boat docks are not in,” Sleeper said.

Many fish habitat improvements will help anglers find more fish. Rocks were placed on the offshore reefs and four pea gravel spawning areas were created. About 750 large trees were anchored to the bottom in the bays. The GPS coordinates for these habitat structures will be added to the DNR’s Fishing Atlas soon.

The gate valve was closed in mid-January and the lake is slowly starting to fill. The lake’s water level has risen about four feet, but is still 11 feet low.

“How fast the lake fills depends on how much rain we get,” said Sleeper. “The lake has a very small watershed to lake ratio, so it needs some timely rains to completely fill.”

The $2.4 million restoration project was funded through the Lake Restoration Program, marine fuel tax, coast guard funds, REAP and fishing license fees.

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