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Kay Syvrud, Hawley, Minn., Published September 07 2012

Letter: Those new ‘lake people’ caused more damage than zebra mussel

I read the Aug. 31 Forum article about Pelican Lake with sadness. Pelican Lake was the beautiful clean, clear, sparkling lake of my youth, but that lake is gone with the zebra mussel invasion and the huge weed growth.

I spent idyllic days with my cousins at my uncle and aunt’s cottage on old Follywood Point beach in the 1940s. I learned to swim in Pelican Lake. We rode in sailboats and raced each other on Pelican Lake. Fishing was good then, and one of my cousins loved to fish so much that she would go out on her own to her favorite fishing spots. We went out in rowboats and learned how to navigate in that mode by pulling on oars. We swam to a small diving raft. There were no super-fast speedboats or jet skis then. The lake was relatively quiet and peaceful – little fishing boats with small motors was the norm. I remember going in a rowboat to find the “giant rock” submerged in 8 to 10 feet of clear water. You could see the giant glacial rock plainly back then.

Those kinds of days appear to be over. One of the last times I was on Pelican Lake in a boat, I was horrified to see murky brown water that was opaque just a few feet down from the surface. That was near the boat landing on the southeast side of the lake, near huge mansion-style homes where “city lawns” have replaced the natural shorelines of yesteryear and trees have been cut down to show off the huge houses. Lawn fertilizer has been applied for years to give the “city lawns” a lush green surface, and a lot of that fertilizer has flushed into the lake. Gone are many tall old-growth trees on the shore. There are few “natural lake lawns” in existence.

Many years of septic tanks along the lakeshore have also created weed growth and deterioration of the lake’s water. Modern rural sewer systems now exist on the lake, but the years of septic tank effluent that went immediately through the sandy/gravel base of the shoreline also devastated the water quality.

It is not just the zebra mussels that have damaged a once pristine, clear, clean lake like Pelican Lake. The new era of “lake people” have contributed greatly to the deterioration of the beautiful lake.