New CLEAR Project leader is ready to continue lake progress


by Marianne Morf

When you say the words ‘Clear Lake’ to MaryJo Burkgren, a smile immediately comes to her face.  She is quick to recall fishing with her parents at the reefs and the Island, gazing at shorelines dotted with cabins, weekly drives around the lake 

and the occasional stop for a bite to eat at Witke’s or Kaster’s Kove.  All those memories make her extremely grateful-- not only for a joyful childhood, but for those who have cared for the lake.

“Clear Lake is a regular community now-- not just cabins on a lake.  I am thankful for those who have stepped up to protect the lake,” said Burkgren.

And now she is proud to add her name to those working to improve and protect the lake.  

Burkgren has been named as the new leader of the CLEAR (Clear Lake Enhancement and Restoration) Project.  She replaces David Knoll, who resigned the position last year after 12-years at the post.  He accepted an Environmental Specialist position with the Environmental Services Division of the DNR in Mason City.  Burkgren formerly served as naturalist at the Mitchell County Nature Center.  She is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor of science degree in natural resource ecology management with an emphasis on wildlife.

“I know David, and it makes my job easier to come in on a project that was so well run,” she said.  “He worked with so many and built so many bridges-- he definitely set the program up to succeed.” 

In addition to knowing its leader, Burkgren said she has also followed the CLEAR Project since its inception, attending events and keeping up with its progress.  She looks forward to continuing the work that has been done and is committed to furthering it.  She hopes to speak with service groups, build relationships with those in the watershed, and continue to work with the Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake (APCL), Cerro Gordo County and the cities of Ventura and Clear Lake.  In recent years, the APCL has not only assisted with various water quality information and education activities, but assisted with collecting water samples and funding water quality investigations, purchased a beach cleaner and pet waste bag dispensers for various public parks, and provided funding toward the CLEAR Project coordinator’s salary.

“I’m here to help lead projects, but I’m working for the cities and association to carry out what’s best for Clear Lake,” said Burkgren.  “The cities and Association have done a superb job implementing ideas that will protect the lake-- from using permeable pavement to rain gardens.  They have been great stewards of the lake.”

Keeping lines of communication open to farmers is a goal Burkgren has identified early in her new job.

“I want people to understand that we’re not trying to take land out of productionwhen we talk about being aware of its impact on the watershed.  All we want to do - Read More Via e-Edition

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