Lake Shady and Zumbro River restoration continues with helicopte - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Lake Shady and Zumbro River restoration continues with helicopter seed, mulch drops

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ORONOCO, Minn. (FOX 47) -

If you happened to drive near Oronoco on Monday, you might have seen some interesting action in the skies: A helicopter, dropping loads of what looked like dirt into Oronoco Park.

That helicopter was hard at work dropping seed and straw around Lake Shady and the Zumbro River, as part of the restoration project.

This project stems from the devastation brought about in the floods of 2010, but now, some good is coming out of catastrophe.

Not all weather-related catastrophes end with gloom and doom.

"Take what had been a beautiful little lake in the heart of the city, and turn it into something that was usable," said Terry Lee, the Olmsted County Water Resources Manager.

For instance, Lake Shady was devastated in the floods of 2010, and now, is coming back to fruition.

"Where the dam was, all of that will be completely replaced with a very nice rock rapids with canoe-able, kayak-able waters," said Lee.

But in order to reach any destination, you must first take a journey.

"The idea is to get it stable, to get the whole site stable, so that it won't have as much erosion," explained Lee.

"The seeding will be the oats, so once that comes up, it will stabilize the soil. And the mulch will help in the meantime," he added.

Lee said the early onset of spring delayed the project, and added more costs.

"It adds a cost. It adds a cost that we hadn't anticipated. We wouldn't have had to do this if we finished the project on time," said Lee.

He told us that the project was on par to cost $4.1 million, but with the delay, another roughly $30,000 got tacked on.

So where does the funding come from? Well, there are a few different sources: the state three cent sales tax, bonding money, the City of Oronoco, and Olmsted County.

“That three cent sales tax is specifically for the lake bed and re-establishing a river up here,” said Lee.

Lee also told us the ideal weather that is needed to complete the project.

"We need to have warm, dry weather to just dry out the lake bed. Because with a drier lake bed, we can start to bring the final equipment on and do the final touches," he explained.

Here's an idea of how large those loads that were being dropped by the helicopter actually were: As the helicopter was dropping a load of straw, Lee said the area being covered with that mulch is roughly 50 to 75 feet in diameter!

He also wanted to let everyone know that once the restoration project is complete, it will be part of the Oronoco City Park.

“It's all inside of the flood plane area, so in a really heavy rain, all of this will flood again, so it's limited in what can be done here. The one thing we decided we can do with it is we can turn it back into a park, that will be available not only for the people of Oronoco, but it will be a regional park serving the people of this area,” said Lee.

Again, the hope is that this project will be complete by the dry period of summer.

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