805 Dorsey Street
P.O. Box 826
Beatrice, Nebraska 68310
402/228-3402
FAX: 402/223-4441

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Willard L. Meyer Recreation Area
Renovation and Rehabilitation Update

Renovation Schedule

The first phase of the renovation and rehabilitation project at the Willard L. Meyer Recreation Area, located east of Tobias, has been completed.

The district in the summer of 2003 opened the drawdown valve at Swan Creek 5A, Willard L. Meyer Recreation Area, to increase flows to the Big Blue River and also to begin rehabilitation and renovation of the lake.

An investigation of the fisheries at the lake by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission was completed in 2002. The fish population survey found that the game fish population was highly degraded with very few fish being of acceptable size to anglers and found the carp population to be very high.

Carp contribute to the deterioration of sport fisheries by stirring up sediments while searching for food and protecting young, which decreases water clarity and aquatic vegetation abundance, and recruitment and health of sport fishes. According to Keith Hurley, Fisheries Biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks, "The removal of carp from the Willard L. Meyer Lake is an important first step in providing a quality fishery." The study also indicated the need for shoreline stabilization to increase water quality and improve the recruitment and health of sport fishes.

The rehabilitation project includes shoreline stabilization, establishment of aquatic vegetation, establishment of scallops and islands for habitat and shoreline protection, and possibly a sediment control structure.

Phase I of the project was completed in November 2003 and included the construction of two islands to protect the northeast shoreline, the islands are approximately 400 feet long by 20 feet wide by 8 feet high (2.5 feet above permanent pool); reshaping of the eroded banks to a 3:1 slope for the establishment of the aquatic vegetation and the planting of trees; construction of jetties to reduce wave erosion; digging of scallops for habitat; and the cutting of cedars to place around the scallops for shoreline protection. The lake and entire watershed was renovated in October and the initial restocking were completed in November.

A restocking schedule, that includes both fingerling and brood stock fish, will be completed and managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and will result in consecutive year classes of largemouth bass that are needed to maintain predatory control and reduce stunting. The initial restocking included largemouth bass, with additional largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill to be stocked in the spring. Additional species that include crappie and red ear bluegill may be stocked according to the Nebraska Game and Parks stocking plan and recommendations.

Phase II of the project will begin in January 2004 with the continued cutting and placement of cedars for shoreline protection. The cedars will be placed in a line in 6 to 8 feet of water and held down with concrete blocks to protect the shoreline and to create habitat. The NRD will also receive 2,800 ton, approximately 4,000 feet, of class B rock from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund to be placed around the two 400-foot islands and along the shoreline. The rock will be placed on a 5-foot wide geo-textile fabric to reduce shoreline erosion and allow the establishment of aquatic vegetation.

Phase II of the project will be completed in the spring of 2004 with the planting of trees, 3000 willows, for shoreline protection and the restocking of bass, catfish, and bluegill.

The Lower Big Blue NRD will continue to focus on improving conservation within the watershed. A proposal has been submitted for the establishment of a sediment pond on the main drainage, approximately 3,500 acres, of the lake.

The project is estimated to cost $102,050 and is funded 75% by the Nebraska Game and Parks Sport Restoration Fund. Any group, club, organization, or individual willing to volunteer to help place the geo-textile fabric and cedars please contact the Lower Big Blue NRD. All volunteer time can be used by the NRD as in-kind matching towards the grant.

The proposed rehabilitation project is scheduled to be completed June 2004. If you have any questions about the project please email the Lower Big Blue NRD at sobotka@lbbnrd.org or call 228-3402 or call Keith Hurley at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at 471-7653.

RENOVATION SCHEDULE

July 14, 2003 - Open Drawndown Valve
August 1, 2003 - Begin Rehab Of Lake
September 2003 - Lake Drained
October 2003 - Renovate Lake
November 2003 - Initial Stocking
Fall 2003 - Construction
January 1, 2004 - Placement Rock/Geo Textile
Spring 2004 - Restocking, Plant Shoreline Trees
June 2004 - Project Complete
Summer 2004 -  Sediment Pond if receive grant