Monday, May 7th, 2012
By Nancy Allen
Windy Point beach rehab under way
  GRAND LAKE - An old beach at Windy Point could be fixed up and ready for use by Grand Lake visitors by the end of this week.
The nonprofit Lake Improvement Association is paying for the $4,700 beach rehab project, which started this morning.
"It should be done in about three days, if the weather is good," LIA Vice President Mark Piening said during the nonprofit's meeting Saturday.
The group hopes the beach will attract more visitors to the lake, which has suffered lost visitation and millions in tourism revenue due to three summers of toxic algae blooms and water advisories.
The project includes relocating riprap from the shoreline, excavating the dirt back 20 feet from the water and putting down sand, Piening said. The beach will be 180 feet wide. Doing the work is VTF Excavation, Celina.
Money for the work will come from annual LIA membership dues, which increased from $10 to $15 this year, and fundraising dollars, Piening said.
Local groups and state officials have been working to help restore the lake. The state last week completed a $5 million alum project to help stave off algae blooms, and local officials are hoping for an advisory-free lake this year.
LIA members have been asked to suggest other areas around the lake for improvement work.
Brian Miller, manager at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, said rough fish removal, which started a week ago, is going well. The state is using nets to remove mostly carp, quillback carp suckers and shad on the lake's southwest shore in the state-protected Mercer Wildlife Area. The area is accessible only by boat.
Studies show rough fish removal can help improve water quality. Large bottom feeders such as carp constantly rile up the phosphorous-laden sediment. Carp also excrete high amounts of phosphorous, which feeds toxic blue-green algae blooms.
State officials estimate by weight 90 percent of the fish in the lake are rough fish, which do well in poor water quality conditions. Rough fish removal is one of several recommendations in a master plan for restoring the lake.
"We've started using three nets, and we're waiting to get three more," Miller said. "We've been averaging 900 to 1,000 pounds a day; one day last week we hit 1,200 pounds."
G.A. Wintzer & Sons rendering facility in Wapakoneta is again taking the fish.
Miller said all three dredges are working on the lake. The Eagle is removing sediment at the mouth of Coldwater Creek, where it likely will stay most of the season, and Pump-A-Little is working in a channel at Sandy Beach housing subdivision. Brutus, the state park's newest dredge, is working on a channel at the Mercer County Sportsmen's Club. Brutus then will dredge a channel west of the club and channels at Otterbein Retirement Community.
The lake's water level is at normal pool, meaning the water is even with the bottom of the notch on the West Bank spillway and no water is flowing over it into Beaver Creek, Miller reported. One of the spillway tubes has been kept open two inches to keep oxygenated water flowing into Beaver Creek to help the fish. The state park does this when water stops flowing over the spillway.
Miller also reported the state park hired two new dredge operators. The park had been short two positions for several weeks.
LIA members also learned:
• Volunteers are needed to staff the second Get the Carp Outta Here tournament on Grand Lake May 18-20. People can contact Donna Grube, Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitor's Bureau director, to volunteer or to register to participate. During last year's tournament, nearly 300 anglers from three states removed 8,142 pounds of carp from Grand Lake.
• Volunteers are needed for LIA's annual special kids fishing derby for physically and developmentally disabled children and adults on Sept. 13. It will be held on the East Bank.
• The Southshore Sportsmen's Club Kids Fishing Derby is June 2 at Windy Point. Every child wins a prize and gets a free lunch during the derby, which has been held for more than 70 years.
• For the first time, LIA members will receive membership cards in mid June. The cards, paid for by the annual increase in dues, can be used to garner savings at local lake businesses.
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