Celebrate Big Creek Lake

May 23, 2012

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 10:00 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 (DNR) 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 representative from the DNR wildlife bureau to discuss grassland and prairie management that has been taking place within the watershed over the last three years and a DNR parks and recreation representative to answer questions. Tentative events include a boat tour of the lake and a fishing clinic. Lunch is provided by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa Learning Farms.

The Conservation Station will also 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 (DU) Green Wing Party will be held at the lake on June 2, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This event will be at the Cadet Shelter in Big Creek State Park and is open to the public. Green Wings of DU are kids age 0-17 who are interested in hunting and maintaining the duck population in Iowa and the U.S. 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 experiences 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 over 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 ILF 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: /ilf.
Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Water Center.