The Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced Monday a statewide project aimed at improving the recreation areas anchored by seven Iowa lakes — one of which is located within Jasper County.
Mariposa Lake was included on the list of seven lakes that will be the focus of mapping surveys intended to give local conservation programs a better snapshot of the lakes’ landscape while also producing high-quality maps of the underwater terrain.
“This is going to be a little more in depth,” Jasper County Conservation Board Director Keri Van Zante said. “Mariposa is on a list impaired waters in line to get funding — I requested the lake to be on the list of impaired water eight to 10 years ago. This survey will tell anglers what they already know, and confirm to DNR and legislators that something does need to be done.”
According to a press release from the Iowa DNR, the process will entail “a DNR fisheries boat loaded with two laptop computers, a flat screen, a suitcase that contains the brains of the program, and equipment hanging off the side running about five miles per hour crisscrossing the lake.”
While the DNR’s main objective is the tabulation of data and subsequent mapping process, Van Zante explained that the project will do more for residents of Jasper County than simply provide them with a map highlighting the best spots for fishing — it’ll be JCCB’s main guide when it comes to future dredging of the lake.
“The DNR will survey the bottom and see what’s there,” Van Zante explained. “They’ll look at how much sediment is there, gather information for anglers and the locate the shallow spots and determine where we need to take the sediment out when we do dredging and determine a cost.”
While the operation won’t take place until late spring or summer, Van Zante explained that the possibility has been on the table since late last year.
“In December I met with the DNR and talked about this, but we wanted to wait until the lake was back to normal levels,” she said. “The lake was low then because we got no rain last summer, but it’s back up with the recent rain and snow melt. The lake has filled in with an awful lot of sediment over the years — it’s over 50 years old.”
“The survey will give us areas to concentrate on,” she added. “The north end is fairly full of sediment, but if we can find some deeper areas to make our priority we can ensure habitats for fish and that kind of thing.”
“It looks like they will have it on their website, which is kind of cool,” she said. “I’m guessing they’ll have a map with elevations depths.
“In the long term, after we do the dredging, it’ll be a whole different lake,” Van Zante added.