BSU continues demonstration project for Indian Lake restoration

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Bemidji State University is continuing its work on a demonstration project with the Indian Lake Lake Improvement District (LID) for water quality improvements and shoreline restoration at Indian Lake in Wright County, Minn.

Funding from a 2005 legislative appropriation will allow Bemidji State, led by Dr. Fu-Hsian Chang, professor of environmental microbiology and biotechnology at Bemidji State’s Center for Environmental, Earth and Space Studies, to continue a collaboration with the Indan Lake LID on the project, which is aimed at improving the quality of the lake.

The efforts to restore Indian Lake began with a $200,000 legislative appropriation to Bemidji State and the Indian Lake LID in 2005. Reviews of the lake conditions in early to mid 2007 revealed notable advancements in water quality at the lake. During a review on May 14, 2007, water clarity averaged 17 feet, an improvement of approximately 300 percent from the conditions in 2005. A May 28 review found overall water clarity had improved more than 50 percent and total phosphorous in the water had declined by more than one third. The algae content in the water also declined measurably.

In September and October of 2007, Dr. Chang and a group of students began work to prepare the lakeshore for a significant planting effort scheduled to take place later this year, pending the completion of permit applications for that work by the Indian Lake LID. The funding also allows for the designation of a fish spawning sanctuary and some shoreline restoration.

Should the permitting process succeed, thousands of shoreline and in-lake restoration plants of nearly 20 different varieties, including a variety of grasses, water lilies, tubers and other plants, will be added to the Indian Lake ecosystem in May and June.

“This is all native vegetation,” Dr. Chang said. “It can grow very well, and can help clean up the water and extract nutrients from the water body.”

Bemidji State and the Indian Lake LID intend to continue the monitoring and restoration of Indian Lake for two years, and Dr. Chang noted that caution should be taken when gauging the success of the group’s efforts during the demonstration project.

“Our original objective was to push nutrients from flora into fauna; improving the game fish population while reducing phytoplankton levels in the lake,” Dr. Chang said. “There has been noticeable improvement in the water condition at the lake, but there are too many variables in a complex lake ecosystem for us to judge the impact of our efforts.

“Has the work we have done been responsible for the changes, or has it been some other change in the lake environment?” Chang asked. “We cannot rule out variabilities for lake changes, and need to continue to monitor the conditions at the lake in order to judge the success of the project.”

For more information about Bemidji State’s involvement in the Indian Lake project, please contact the Center for Environmental, Earth and Space Studies at (218) 755-2920.

Additional Resources on the Web
• The Carlson Trophic State Index defined by the Environmental Protection Agency: