Dredging and construction activities are expected to begin in May as part of the Holmes Lake Restoration and Watershed Management Project. Beginning last fall, the lake level has been lowered, and the sediment will be now removed to increase the lake depth.
“We have reached a very critical part of this long-term project,” said Mayor Wesely. “This is a major step as we work toward improving the lake’s water quality and enhancing the park’s recreational opportunities, including fishing.”
An open house to present information on the project is planned for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27 at Gere Library, 2400 South 56th Street.
The lake project is needed because excessive amounts of sediment and nutrients have been deposited into the lake from 40 years of development and agricultural use in the 5.2-square-mile watershed. The deposits have reduced the lake’s depth, water quality and fishing conditions.
Because trucking the sediment dredged from the lake is impractical, the sediment will be placed on a rarely-used hill south of the lake. After re-vegetation and landscaping, it will provide additional play field space in the park. About 330 trees in the hill area will need to be replaced. The trees are nearing the end of their life cycles, and about 500 new trees will be planted in the watershed area as well as additional shrubs, native grasses and wildflowers that will enhance wildlife habitat. Most of the trees being removed are pines, and will be made into wood chips.
“We never like to remove trees, but even without the lake renovation, the trees would need to be replaced soon because of their age,” said Lynn Johnson, Parks and Recreation Director. “In deciding where to place the sediment, we looked at the cost, traffic concerns and mess associated with trucking the sediment off-site. The site chosen in the park is the best option for the overall project because it will save money and avoid transportation problems. We need to have a long-term perspective – the enhancements to Holmes Lake will benefit the public at least 50 years.”
In addition to the dredging, other work at the lake and park will include shoreline shaping and stabilization; the formation of island, jetties and fishing piers; the creation of wetlands, a new trail loop with bridges; boat launch improvements; expansion of the golf club house parking lot; park lighting improvements and additional restrooms.
Holmes Lake is a 110-acre reservoir built for flood control and recreation in 1962 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lincoln Parks and Recreation is responsible for the management of the lake and the surrounding park.
The renovation project is being conducted in two phases. Phase I of the project began two years ago and resulted in the drafting of the Holmes Lake Watershed Management Plan, developed by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department; the Holmes Lake Watershed Council, a citizens group; and representatives of several natural resource agencies. The dredging is part of Phase II, which includes concept planning, design and construction implementation for the physical restoration of the lake basin and the surrounding parks. The estimated date of the project’s completion is late 2004.
The $4.9 million cost of the project is being shared among the project partners - the City, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund is also contributing to the cost of Phase II.