Lights, tow rope possible at Lake Mitchell sled hillSledding amenities could be added to the Lake Mitchell amphitheater following a discussion Tuesday during a Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee meeting at the Recreation Center.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Sledding amenities could be added to the Lake Mitchell amphitheater following a discussion Tuesday during a Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee meeting at the Recreation Center.
The amphitheater, a grassy half-bowl on the southwest side of the lake, is mostly used in the winter as a sledding hill. Parks and Recreation Director Dusty Rodiek said his department has equipment he can move to the site and install electricity to provide lights and a powered tow rope.
“It would get used a bunch,” Rodiek said. “It is used a bunch now.”
The idea was pitched during a broad discussion of the committee’s ongoing projects at and around the lake. Later, Rodiek said it could be anywhere from one to three years before the project is completed.
Other work to improve the amphitheater has been stalled by the lack of an access road reaching down to the bottom, said committee chairman Mark Puetz.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that is dead at this time,” Puetz said. “Down the road, it might pop up again.”
Many other projects are moving ahead, committee members said.
Focus 2020 chairman Mark Buche has sent an e-mail to Focus 2020 committees to determine what has been accomplished since goals were set about two years ago by the volunteer visioning group. The lake committee arose out of the Focus 2020 process.
Puetz said “progress is being made” on improving the Firesteel Creek watershed, adding and upgrading trails around the lake, creating additional signage and other work.
“Those are in the works and proceeding,” Puetz said. “Almost every single item we outlined, something has been done, which to me is pretty impressive.”
A fishing pier that is accessible for people with disabilities has been completed at Frank’s Bay on the west side of the lake. The parking area has been paved and handicap-accessible restrooms have been completed.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony may be held in the spring, Puetz said.
“It’s nice to celebrate wins when we accomplish stuff and letting people know about it,” he said.
The committee also wants to continue efforts to remove dead trees, trim dead branches and clean and improve the shoreline and beaches.
Sandy Beach will see some improvements, as a sole tree on the beach will be removed.
City Councilman Greg McCurry, a former Lake Committee chairman who now serves as a liaison to the committee, said he plans to hold a meeting this winter with groups that have adopted an access area by the lake to see what plans or goals they may have for next year as well as to determine “how they’re liking it.”
Puetz also presented a “Radar List” of projects that need to be done or checked, including the SolarBee that was bought in 2010 in an effort to clear algae from the lake, shoreline stabilization, fish habitat improvement and a proposed state park.
The issues were divided up between the committee members.
Rodiek said a feasability study is being done on creating a state park along Lake Mitchell.
In other business:
* The committee discussed ways to lower the lake level in the fall and early winter before the water freezes, to avoid damage to the shoreline.
Puetz said when the spillway was improved several years ago, a draw-down basin was considered to lower the lake level, but it wasn’t installed. He said the question now is to find a way to “somehow” lower the lake each fall.
* In a previous meeting, the committee had discussed what kind of rock to put into the lake to promote fish habitat. Rodiek said he has spoken with experts in the area, including a former college roommate who has been a wildlife biologist for more than 20 years.
“The type of rock doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference,” he said. “Rock is rock.”
* McCurry said he wants to create a lake cleanup day in the spring and hopefully get a large number of people to help improve the lake and its shores. The committee will explore the proposal before the spring.
* Committee member Dave Allen said he has taken a close look at Firesteel Creek and said more farm runoff appears to be in the creek.
“We get a lot of this rain, guys, and this is coming right to us,” he said.
Puetz said there are about 20 major landowners along the creek and most are known to someone on the committee. He said many farmers and ranchers have already agreed to install “buffer strips” between their farmland and pasture and the creek to reduce runoff.
“There’s already been work done with large cattle operations,” Puetz said. “A lot of those have already been taken care of, especially close to Lake Mitchell.”
He said manure lagoons prevent runoff from reaching the watershed and efforts to promote the use of wells to provide water for livestock have paid off, since the livestock are not actually drinking in the creek, where their waste enters the water.
* The committee welcomed a new member, Tim Bottum. He was appointed by Mayor Lou Sebert and will serve a three-year term.
The committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Rec Center. The meetings are open to the public.