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Friends Group Eyed To Help Guide Little Lake Restoration

It's slid down on the list because of funding issues, but there's a new effort to push ahead with the restoration of Little Lake.

Over the years the 18-acre lake in Sturgeon Bay's Sunset Park has transformed from a scenic pond into an algae-choked eyesore.

But at Wednesday night's meeting of the Joint Park & Recreation Committee/Board, two members of the Sturgeon Bay Rotary Club's Environmental Protection Committee, Greg Meissner and Roger Anderson, spoke about coordinating an effort to clean up the lake, an effort that would start by organizing a 'friends' group to band together those interested in returning the lake to its former condition.

Meissner says he grew up on Delaware Street 60 years ago and has really noticed the changes over the years.

"I think it has degraded to the point where it's become more of an eyesore than the gem that it can be for the city," says Meissner. "We felt that it really is an asset to the city and at Sunset Park and it'd just be wonderful to get it into a more viable state again."

Parks Committee Chairman Dan Wiegand says a few years ago the city put together a master plan for restoration with a total price tag of around $1.5 million -- money the city doesn't have right now.

Meissner says he's been getting questions about the project because the Rotary donated $1,500 to the cause in 2010 and people have been asking him about the status.

Both say the next step will be contacting neighbors in the area to gauge interest in such a group, likely through an informational mailing.

Fishing guide Gary Nault and his wife Cheryl have run a Father's Day fishing tournament at Little Lake for the past 27 years and Gary says the change in the species of fish in the lake has been dramatic.

"The first year we held the tournament we gave trophies for nine different species including some really big muskies, and some largemouth bass that were in there along with smallmouth and perch," says Nault. "Right now we're lucky to get a bucketful of bullheads and an occasional sunfish -- we planted sunfish there probably about 10 years ago now and there's a few of them left."

Nault says if the lake is shored up it would not only mean an opportunity to stock more types of fish, it could become a spot for other recreation. 

Meissner says the lake's deterioration is due to nonpoint source pollution in the form of runoff from streets and lawns in the neighborhood.

"So it's getting silt coming into there, as well as chemicals -- I'm sure there's phosphorous and other nonpoint source pollution chemicals that might be coming off the street," says Meissner. "That all drains into the pond right now and consequently the higher chemical content in the water and the sediment is causing the weeds to grow more than they might normally grow and that causes more organic matter which then supports more weed growth and basically the lake has just degraded."


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