Photo by Mike Harris
Lake Gregory dredging tour
Phil Krause, county park planner, points to areas on a map of Lake Gregory where silt has built up over the past few years. Krause was conducting an orientation tour of the lake on Dec. 21 for representatives from California Fish and Game, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and Lake Gregory Improvement Committee.
A major step toward getting approvals to dredge Lake Gregory was achieved Dec. 21 when representatives from regional agencies visited the lake for an orientation tour.
On hand for the tour were representatives from California Department of Fish and Game, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lake Gregory Improvement Committee and county Regional Parks Department. A representative from the Army Corps of Engineers was scheduled to attend, but canceled at the last minute.
“The meeting was an excellent first step in terms of our working to get Lake Gregory dredged,” said Keith Lee, county regional parks director, who was present for the tour. “The different agencies’ representatives were incredibly helpful in providing solutions.”
The group assembled in the North Shore parking lot at 1 p.m., where Phil Krause, county park planner, started the tour with a briefing on past dredging efforts. He explained how silt and debris flowing into the lake from the silt basin near the new county library building has created large sand bars in the swimming area, limiting visitor access.
Another source for the silt is storm drains, especially those near the ball field.
After the briefing, the members walked over to the silt basin to see the area, then moved on to other areas around the lake, including areas near the Leisure Shores Community Center and the ball field where silting is a major issue.
“I think we’re moving along in a good way,” Lee added. “We won’t be able to get away from doing some California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) work, but we’re looking for ways to work together to dredge the lake and get it back to the condition that I think many in the community would like it to be in.”
Members of the Lake Gregory Improvement Committee who were on hand for the tour included Aaron Creighton, Rick Dinon (who leads the committee), Mick Hill and John Short.
“We have continually emphasized to the regulating agencies that Lake Gregory is not just a county asset, but an important asset to the Crestline and Lake Gregory community,” said Dinon. “The good news is that we’ve encountered a lot of cooperation.”
Committee member Aaron Creighton said he also was pleased with the response from the Fish and Game and Lahontan representatives who took the tour.
“We now have a vastly greater view of what needs to be done,” he said.
Creighton said that in order to get permitted by Fish and Game and Lahontan, the county has to be in compliance with CEQA.
“One of the tricky parts under CEQA is that if we remove habitat, we will have to mitigate the removal,” Creighton said. “There are two areas at Lake Gregory that need to be dredged, and the two have quite a lot of habitat.”
Part of the talk during the tour centered on creating separate habitat areas, and how it might be possible to make habitat areas protected. Other ideas included creating fish habitat areas in the deeper parts of the lake by depositing used Christmas trees weighed down by cinder blocks.
Creighton said one of the comments included that by pulling silt out of the lake, it would help improve the water quality.
“We will need an environmental impact report, and probably have to have a biological report,” he said. “We have heavy-duty problems at this lake.”
By Mike Harris, Reporter