AMES, Iowa — Big Creek Lake, located near Polk City, was created in 1972 and this year celebrates its 40th birthday. A celebration of the lake, Big Creek State Park and the wildlife management area will be held Saturday, June 2, beginning at 10 a.m. near the beach. The celebration is open to the public and includes learning stations, a complimentary lunch and the Conservation Station.
The watershed appreciation event will have several stations for attendees to visit, which include: a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist who will talk about the status of the fishery at the lake and how the fish survive, or die, in poor water conditions. There will also be a DNR wildlife bureau representative to discuss three years of grassland and prairie management within the watershed and a DNR parks and recreation representative to answer questions. Tentative events include a boat tour of the lake and a fishing clinic. Lunch will be provided by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa Learning Farms.
The Conservation Station also will be at the event. The Conservation Station is a mobile learning center that travels across the state teaching all Iowans how they can help to improve water quality and keep Iowa’s soils in place — building a Culture of Conservation. Visitors to the Conservation Station can learn why Iowa’s water and soils are precious and how to help preserve these natural resources for future generations. The Conservation Station’s rainfall simulator demonstrates the effects of rainfall on different land surfaces. Water runoff and subsurface drainage are collected in clear jars to show what is coming off the various soil scenarios including heavily tilled soil, minimum tillage and pervious pavement.
Also, the Big Creek Ducks Unlimited Green Wing Party will be held at the lake on June 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will be at the Cadet Shelter in Big Creek State Park and is open to the public. Green Wings of Ducks Unlimited are kids ages 0 to 17 who are interested in hunting and maintaining the duck population in Iowa and the United States. For more information about this event, contact Chad Sparks, 515-707-2565.
The Big Creek Lake Watershed Project is underway with the goal of improving water quality going into the lake and surrounding areas. The lake has experienced high bacteria levels, algae blooms and high sedimentation. The long-term project includes 20 years of improvement within the watershed. Big Creek Lake is an Iowa attraction, bringing an average of more than 740,000 visitors each year to the lake. But it cannot sustain good water quality; in 2004 alone, there were 11 separate beach warnings of high bacteria levels. The project works with all who live within the watershed including home and landowners, farmers, beach-goers and lake users.
Big Creek State Park is located at 8794 NW 125th Ave., Polk City. The celebration will be near the beach area. For more information about the event or the Big Creek Lake Watershed, contact Sean McCoy, 515-432-2316, ext. 114, or Zach DeYoung, 515-964-1883, ext 3. McCoy and DeYoung are the coordinators of the watershed project. Visit the Big Creek Lake Watershed project website: http://www.bigcreeklake.org.
Iowa Learning Farms takes a grassroots approach offering innovative ways to help all Iowans have an active role in keeping our state’s natural resources healthy and not take them for granted. A goal of Iowa Learning Farms is to build a Culture of Conservation, encouraging the adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and Iowa Learning Farms team members are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Visit the Iowa Learning Farms website for more information: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf.
Sean McCoy, Big Creek Lake Watershed coordinator, 515-432-2316, ext. 114
Zach DeYoung, Big Creek Lake Watershed coordinator, 515-964-1883, ext. 3