Lekwa Marsh is subject of DNR open house

(Above) The state is expected to begin a wetland restoration project on the 52-acre site located south of Clear Lake State Park this fall.  The land was formerly owned by Holmes and Jane Pedelty and leased to the Sherman family, which developed and operated Arrowhead Golf Course.  The state purchased the land in 2016.-Reporter photo by Marianne Gasaway.

Restoration of former golf course to wetland area among projects

by Marianne Gasaway

The public is invited to attend a special meeting to learn more about the Lekwa Marsh area on the lake’s south shore, including the transformation of a former golf course to a public wildlife area.

T.J. Herrick, wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will host an open house Tuesday, Oct. 8, as part of a recent DNR directive to invite public comment and field questions about state spaces.

Herrick, who manages more than 50 areas, said Lekwa Marsh is an evolving property.

Within the past few years the shoreline just off South Shore Drive, west of Clear Lake State Park, was improved to include a restroom, small dock and launch area for kayaks and small vessels. Across the street, the DNR manages the marsh where a new fish barrier will work to keep non-native species, like Carp, out of the lake.  A rock reef below the marsh will contribute to keeping the lake healthy, he said.

The area Herrick said he is most often questioned about is the former Holmes and Jane Pedelty property, located immediately south of Clear Lake State Park Beach.  In October 2014 the Sherman family, which had leased the land and developed Arrowhead Golf Course, was informed they must vacate.

Family of the late Holmes Pedelty chose to sell the land to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.  In 2016, the state purchased the land in two parcels for $260,000 apiece, according to Cerro Gordo County records.

According to Herrick, the state has been working to down trees planted along the former golf course fairways.  Plans are to restore a 12 acre wetland in the center of the wildlife habitat and wetland.  Some type of walking path may be cleared in the area.

“We ultimately hope to restore it to a healthy watershed,” he said, adding that the land currently drains away from the lake by tiles,” said Herrick.

Eventually, the roughly 52 acre site will be opened to the public for use, including hunting with special regulations and bow hunting.

The timeline for the property calls for the tree removal work and wetland creation work to be done yet this year.

The open house to discuss the Lekwa Marsh area will be held from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the shelter house at Clear Lake State Park, 2730 South Lakeview Dr.  This will be a come-and-go open house format with staff from various programs on hand to answer questions.

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