Major restoration to Mariposa County Park is expected to begin later this year. A complete dredging of Mariposa Lake will be the centerpiece of the project.
Jasper County Conservation Director Keri Van Zante met with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and project engineers Shive-Hattery to review the process last week. The engineers are about 60 percent done with their designs and hope to be 90 percent done with designs this summer.
Before the process started last year, there was a public meeting to discuss it. Another public meeting will be held this summer right before the project starts, Van Zante said.
The recreation area northeast of Newton, which also boasts a hiking trail and campground, will see a makeover to its small lake. The entire project is estimated to cost $1.9 million, although the restoration has not gone out for bids yet.
The DNR’s lake restoration program will fund much of the project. Van Zante hopes to come up with about 20 percent of the money through grants.
Jasper County Conservation aims to have the lake drained by late summer and begin dredging this fall and winter. About 146,000 cubic yards of dirt are expected to be removed in the dredging process. To put that in perspective, it will take more than 10,000 dump-truck loads to remove that much material.
Once completed, visitors to the park will notice the upgrades. There will be new fish habitat installed and more recreational options on the lake.
“Mariposa has been a no-boating lake up to this point,” Van Zante said. “After the restoration, there will be a concrete boat ramp and parking area, so boats will be allowed.”
The buffalo at Mariposa are expected to be removed because the containment site for the sediment will take up much of their acreage. For the animals’ safety, they will likely be transferred to a more open space before the project gets underway.
Van Zante said Jasper County Conservation has been completing smaller projects in recent years to get ready for this major restoration. For example, the county implemented a shoreline restoration a few years ago and planted native grasses along the shore to stabilize it.
It has been a long process. About six years ago, the county conservation office got a call from the DNR that Mariposa was near the top of the priority list for restoration.
“I have been writing letters to the DNR to try to get it to the top of their restoration list for probably 20 years,” Van Zante said.
Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or email@example.com