City moving wisely in Lake Bancroft clean-up effort

The city of Ishpeming appears to be heading in the right direction in regard to the planned clean-up of Lake Bancroft.

At its recent meeting, the Ishpeming City Council voted unanimously to pursue a grant to help pay for the project.

The grant application will be made to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Habitat Grant Program. Launched in October, the program is aimed at protecting and rehabilitating degraded aquatic habitat and has a total of about $1 million for grants this year.

Located off Lakeshore Drive in Ishpeming with a city park and gazebo at one end, Lake Bancroft is suffering from progressive eutrophication, which is the enrichment of bodies of fresh water by inorganic plant nutrients, according to the website at www.ishpemingcity.org/our-city/lake-bancroft-project/.

Included is an excessive growth of algae from high levels of phosphates and nitrates, which leads to the algae dying and decomposing that in turns depletes oxygen in the water. With a lower level of oxygen, the lake can’t support organisms such as fish.

The clean-up plan would include dissolving a food-grade polymer in the lake that would bind with suspended solids and drop to the lake bottom, pulling the solids down with it. The hoped for result would be clear water that reoxygenates and supports desired fish species, such as trout and pike as in the distant past.

While agreeing to apply for the DNR grant, the council did not approve hiring U.P. Engineers & Architects to write the grant application for a fee of $1,200. Instead, citing the desire to be fiscally responsible in a time of tight budgets, council members decided to accept an offer from Carl Lindquist of the Lake Superior Watershed Partnership to prepare the grant application for the city at no charge.

The city has been collecting donations to help fund the clean-up effort, with about $30,000 in assets available for the required 10 percent match if the grant is received. The match can include cash, equipment and/or labor.

By applying for the grant and accepting the partnership’s offer to prepare the grant application, we believe the city is taking the proper, cautious route in trying to get the project done without using funds needed for more vital city services.