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PALO — The restoration of Pleasant Creek Lake, Linn County’s largest and most popular lake, is “99 percent complete,” said Paul Sleeper, the Department of Natural Resources fisheries management biologist who coordinating the project.
All that’s left to do is “cosmetic stuff” such as concrete work and seeding bare soil areas, he said. That and the refilling of the lake, which has been underway since mid-January.
The 410-acre lake, which was lowered 15 feet to facilitate the work, has risen four feet since the gate valve was closed but still has 11 feet to go to reach normal pool.
The time required to fill the lake will depend upon rainfall volume, Sleeper said.
Pleasant Creek’s exceptionally small 5-to-1 watershed-to-lake ratio ensures good water quality but limits the inflowing water needed to refill the lake.
The restoration “turned out really well with improved habitat throughout the lake and improved access for shoreline anglers,” Sleeper said.
Almost all the lake’s shoreline — about six miles’ worth — has been shaped and stabilized with more than 55,000 tons of rock to protect it from eroding, improve habitat and attract fish, Sleeper said.
About 40,000 cubic yards of lake bed material has been pushed farther out to create more diversity in depth and bottom content, he said. When the lake returns to normal level, some of that material will become rock-covered underwater reefs.
Two new fishing jetties with Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible sidewalks were added to provide access for anglers to deeper water. Five existing fishing jetties were repaired and four boat ramps have been replaced and extended.
Sleeper advises boaters to use caution while the lake is filling.
“With the lake not being full there are underwater rock structures just below the surface,” he said.
An ADA- accessible boat slip with a concrete sidewalk around it and railings was built at the main boat ramp, the only one currently usable, to make it’s easier for boaters to enter and exit their boat.
Among other fish habitat improvements, 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.
Following a similar project completed in 2002 at Lake Macbride, water quality, fish habitat, lake access and angler success all greatly improved. Experience gained in the restoration of Macbride proved valuable in planning and executing the Pleasant Creek project, Sleeper said.
The $2.4 million restoration project was funded through the Lake Restoration Program, marine fuel tax, Coast Guard funds, REAP and fishing license fees.