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DNR Fisheries shoreland area to receive a 'face lift'

The powerhouse building will be dressed up by planting perennials along the south side, which faces the fishing pier, rather than the weeds that are currently there. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Department of Natural Resources Fisheries shoreland near Rice Park will begin to see improvements in the next few weeks.

The Hubbard County Master Gardeners received funding from a $5,000 ConAgra grant from Lamb Weston/RDO to help them get the project rolling.

Brian Flynn, energy and environmental manager at Lamb Weston/RDO, said the plant won an award for energy efficiency and climate change. A group of employees presented a project in 2009 that included steam trap replacements, replacing an old steam unit and boiler improvements.

"All of these things together saved 5 percent of the total energy at the plant," Flynn said. "That's a lot here."

The award of $5,000 is then used to give a donation for an energy or environmental project in the area.

Kirky Otto, a master gardener, is heading up the DNR project with help from other master gardeners.

Others from the DNR, Park Board, Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District are also involved with the project.

The project proposal calls for the following improvements:

n To "dress up" the powerhouse building by planting native perennials along its south side, which faces the fishing pier, rather than have weeds there.

n To install low-growing native perennials in the zone between the riprap along the river and the gravel path, with the idea of growing deep-rooted plants there which can tolerate foot traffic, and which will cut down on maintenance, rather than leaving weeds there.

n To install a rain garden to keep the gravel driveway from washing out, it that's feasible.

n To add some decorative perennials around the sign at the top of the hill.

n To plant a shade tree by the picnic table.

The master gardeners work as volunteer educators under the direction of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Lindy Ekola, DNR Shoreline Habitat Specialist, and Shane Foley, with SWCD are providing expertise.

Flynn said that there were many projects in the area that could have received the grant.

"There were several worthy projects out there but this one stood out," Flynn said. "They have volunteer labor set up already so the money should go far."

Also, the project has an educational component, which was appealing, Flynn said.

Originally, Otto thought she would be spending this summer applying for several smaller grants or looking for private donations. The $5,000 will go a long way toward fixing up the shoreland.

The Park Rapids City Council gave its blessing earlier this year for the project to move forward. The city owns the land, with a permanent lease to the DNR.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561