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Eagle Lake project honored

When Frazee city officials were considering the possibility of selling the property known as Eagle Lake Park, back in 2001, residents of the area decided that they wanted to do something to preserve the land as a park -- and the Eagle Lake Park Association (ELPA) was born.

Though the park had been all but abandoned, this group has worked tirelessly to garner the grants, donations and volunteer hours necessary to restore Eagle Lake Park to its former glory.

While their efforts remain ongoing, the ELPA has already done much to restore the eroding shoreline on the park's swimming beach. In addition, they have installed a new playground (through the generous gift of some used equipment from an anonymous donor); put rail fencing around the park's boundaries; installed a new stone path through the park down to the shore; upgraded the park shelters; added new concrete picnic tables; and planted a variety of shrubs and bushes to improve the park's overall appearance.

"The park just needed a lot of work all around," said Kathleen Froelich, president of the ELPA.

In recognition of their efforts, the Becker County Soil & Water Conservation District recently informed the Eagle Lake Park Association that its members would be the recipients of the 2006 SWCD Conservationist of the Year Award.

"We were really surprised, but we're also very excited," said Froelich.

Brad Grant, Soil and Water Conservation Officer for Becker County, said the winners were chosen by the SWCD Board of Supervisors. He added that the ELPA would be officially presented with its award during the annual SWCD conference at the Sheraton in Bloomington, Minn., on Dec. 3-5. They will be presented with a certificate of merit from The Farmer magazine and a custom-made plaque from the Becker County SWCD at a noon lunch on Dec. 5.

"We will invite two members of the club to be our guests at the luncheon," Grant said.

While Froelich is pleased that the ELPA will be honored for its efforts, she also noted that it's been a collaborative effort involving several other agencies and government entities.

"The Park Association got together with the City of Frazee and Burlington Township and applied for grant funding from WesMin RC & D (Resource Conservation and Development), a non-profit division of the USDA which assist local and county governments with similar restoration projects.

That grant funding helped the ELPA with its first major project, the restoration of the park's badly eroded shoreline.

Those efforts included bringing in engineers to redesign the shoreline's slope, seeding, mulching, adding riprap, and planting shrubbery and other greenery, as well as installing new fencing and stone steps leading down to the shore. Froelich said these efforts helped to direct park traffic toward a central access point on the beach, as well as improving the scenery in general.

"We've also added security lights and a boat dock for fishermen to tie up their boats and to provide easier access for seniors," she added.

Other contributors to the project have included the NRCS, DNR, and MPCA.

"We've also had volunteers from all around the area, and beyond," Froelich said, noting that she has received offers of help and donations from many past and present area residents.

"The Becker County SWCD also provided cost sharing," noted Grant.

Froelich also gave credit to Randy Hodson's Sentence to Service (STS) crew for providing much of the physical labor necessary to complete the restoration.

The next step in the ELPA's ongoing park restoration efforts will be to improve the boat access ramp by installing asphalt surfacing.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454