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Lake Mitchell's to get new fish habitat in May

An aerial photo of Lake Mitchell from 2009. Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey is looking at a number of ways to solve the Lake Mitchell problem. (Matt Gade/Republic)

All hands on deck.

The Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee will prepare and install two large artificial fish habitats on May 5 and 6, and it could use the public's help. The committee set the installation date to drop two large structures known as "fish cities" into the lake, two years after South Dakota State University fisheries management and ecology professor Brian Graeb suggested the habitat to improve fishing for anglers at the lake.

The fish cities were purchased for approximately $3,000 by both the city and donations collected by the Bassmasters and Poorman's clubs. And due to the sheer size of the structures, Committee President Joe Kippes said the group could use all the help it can get to drop them in the lake.

"I'm thinking we're going to want quite a few hands there handling these," Kippes said.

Park Supervisor Steve Roth said the initial work to put together the habitat will begin at the city's Hitchcock Park shop, while the habitat will be dropped near the Sportsman's Club and Franks Bay.

Roth said the groups will likely meet at 9 a.m. at the drop sites on May 6, and Kippes was encouraged about the massive size of each artificial habitat.

"There's 15 structures in each city, so it's pretty big, it's pretty big, it's more than what I thought it would be," Kippes said.

Kippes also said Pheasants Country will purchase a structure to install near the new dock on the west side of the lake.

The plan to boost fish habitat comes at the same time the city is immersed in a water quality restoration study to improve Lake Mitchell. And after first meetings for the new restoration committees as part of the $73,725 study with Omaha-based Fyra Engineering, committee member Mark Puetz said future meetings won't be held behind closed doors.

"They will always be public," Puetz assured his fellow committee members.

Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said the Watershed Advisory Committee will continue to focus on public input and educating the public, while the Technical Advisory Team will take a leadership role to assist with grants.

The volunteer committees are expected to meet on April 26 or 27, but no time was finalized as of Tuesday.