Water level to drop at Hickory Grove Lake ahead of restoration

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Story County Conservation Board plan to start drawing down Hickory Grove Lake near Colo as early as Aug. 6 as part of the continued lake restoration efforts to improve water quality and enhance accessibility and recreational opportunities.

Planned restoration work includes dredging soft sediment from the lake bottom, stabilizing the shoreline with rock riprap, renovating the fishery and park amenity upgrades. Fish habitat structures will be installed throughout the lake for better sport fishing. The project is expected to be completed as early as spring of 2020, with the goal of returning the lake to full pool in the spring and early summer of 2020.

Fishing regulations at Hickory Grove Lake were relaxed on July 10, to allow anglers to more freely harvest game fish before the lake is renovated. Liberalized fishing regulations will remain in effect until the in-lake construction begins.

Hickory Grove Park is a popular camping and fishing destination. The lake is also home to a popular triathlon each spring.

Watershed improvements already made include a pond, livestock exclusion structure, bioreactor, and stabilizing the streambank to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment reaching the lake. Current watershed efforts involve building 25 revetment rock silt dikes, stabilizing the shoreline with rock riprap on the north edge of the lake, and trail and drainage tile repairs on the south end of the lake.

Clay Play!

Hunt for banks of natural clay during a creek walk with Naturalist Rebekah Beall on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at McFarland Park, 56461 180th St., northeast of Ames.

Plan on getting wet and muddy as we use our imaginations to play with clay and whatever else we may discover. Participants are encouraged to wear closed-toe shoes that will not be pulled off in mud. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

This program is free, but registration is required by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Registration is available at www.storycountyconservation.org or by calling 515-232-2516.

Live Like a Pioneer

Story County Conservation offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences for school groups — one of our most popular being Pioneer Day. Adults will finally have an opportunity to see what all the excitement is about. Join Story County Conservation staff on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at McFarland Park to travel to 1869 and discover life as a pioneer.

Meet two pioneers and help them with daily chores. Try your hand at carding and spinning wool, doing laundry and making your own soap. Help cook bread over the fire and churn butter. Explore plants that were used by the pioneers and go on a cemetery tour to compare life changes over time. You can learn a lot from your past!

This program is intended for adults and older children who have aged out of the school-offered experience. In true pioneer fashion, participants will be outdoors for the entire day. Please bring a sack lunch, full reusable water bottle, blanket or towel for sitting, and bug spray and sunblock if desired.

Fee of $10 with registration is required by 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 13. Registration is available at www.storycountyconservation.org or by calling 515-232-2516.