Monday, May 5th, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
State sets ambitious dredging schedule
  CELINA - Officials hope to exceed last year's record by dredging more than 302,000 cubic yards of sediment from Grand Lake this summer.
The state has three dredges and will put a new one - Hoedag the Monster on the Lake - into action after it arrives in June, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller told Lake Improvement Association members at their monthly meeting Saturday at the Celina Moose Lodge.
Dredging enhances boater navigation and rids the lake of unwanted sediment that promotes toxic, blue-green algae.
The dredge Brutus already has pulled more than 3,400 cubic yards of silt and nutrients from near the boat club and channel on the east side of the lake in the past two weeks, Miller said.
Two other dredges, Eagle and Pump-A-Little, will begin dredging this week.
Pump-A-Little will begin near the channel along Sunnyside and Eagle will be working at the Little Chick Bay and channel as soon as repairs on the dredge are complete. Both locations are on the south side of Grand Lake.
Other dredging projects scheduled for the year are at Southmoore Shores, Kozy Marina Bay and channel, Riley Bay West and Rustic Haven Sand Bar, Miller said.
Hoedag is a 24-foot-wide Ellicott 460 SL Dragon dredge being built in Wisconsin. It was purchased for $895,000 from funds appropriated in the 2012 state capital budget.
Crews last year had hoped to dredge 289,000 cubic yards of sediment but broke a record with more than 302,000 cubic yards removed.
Tom Grabow, dredge supervisor, said he has not set a specific goal for this year but wants to exceed last year's figures.
"With four dredges working this summer, I'm not wanting to throw a number out there, but we know we'll probably exceed last year," he said.
Miller said 13 relocation areas exist around the lake for dredged material. Some are "tear-drop" areas that reach out from the shore, including land owned by private farmers.
Four of the 13 areas are full, including one on private land owned by Pat McEvoy; one at West Bank owned by the state; one at the waterfowl refuge owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife; and land south of Montezuma owned by Mercer County.
Construction for another relocation area is slated to begin in the next two or three weeks on a 40-acre area near Wright State University-Lake Campus owned by the Western Ohio Education Foundation. The area is just north of state Route 703 and is a very low area that floods frequently, Miller said.
Earlier this year, Lake Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller asked U.S. Senator Rob Portman to help the LIA obtain more land to place dredged material.
Portman, R-Ohio, was at the Lake Campus to hear concerns about algae blooms and hypoxia that have plagued the lake for years.
Milt Miller told Portman a lack of available property to dispose of the sediment could cause issues in the future and officials would like to build islands made of dredged material throughout the nine-mile lake.
EPA regulations require islands to provide multiple functions, according to Brian Miller, and they have to be appropriate for the surrounding landscape and compatible with the surrounding land use.
Portman said he would take the issue up with federal and state officials.  Brian Miller also told LIA members on Saturday that crews have removed 30 stumps from the lake.
"One was actually 72-feet long," Miller said.
The stumps were collected from Otterbein to Club Island.
Stumps have not been collected since 2011, when about 140 were removed. The work was put on hold when dredging and reducing lake level became top priorities.
Anyone who knows where a specific stump is located is urged to call Miller at 419-394-3611.
The project to place a 10-foot replica of an oil derrick in Grand Lake has been put on hold for a short time, according to Miller.
The Grand Lake Recreation Club has agreed to place the replica on a pile of existing rocks where the last operational derrick operated in the lake at a cost of about $3,000. The money comes from the recreation club and private donations.
ODNR is using a crane on a barge to raise the remaining rocks and drive 20 or 30 wood posts into the lake to keep the rip-rap in place. Miller said when the crane got to the location, some of the rocks had broken away and the project has to be put on hold until some larger rocks can be hauled to the site.
Grand Lake was home to the world's first offshore oil well in 1891 when hundreds of oil-and natural gas-producing structures were once visible in the lake and along the shoreline.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund for the derrick can contact Brad Fisher, a member of the recreation club, at grandlakerec@gmail.com or by calling him at 937-361-9540.
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