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Grass buffer proposed to deter lake algae

News editor

A 30-foot-wide unmowed grass “water filter” around the shoreline of Marion County Lake could remove nutrients that feed blue-green algae if Kansas Department of Health and Environment funds a plan discussed with county commissioners Monday.

The proposal, being developed through K-State WRAPS, would involve removing non-native trees and creating a grass buffer that would be more efficient. The project also would deal with heavily treed draws, and target two livestock operations that are purported to be nutrient sources.

“It acts as a filter when water runs across it,” extension agent Ricky Roberts said. “The grass does it better than the trees do.”

“In the long run that could help with our algae blooms, because there’s so many nutrients going into the county lake,” Planning and Zoning Director Tonya Richards said. “The draws I think we would focus on quite a bit, because those are heavily treed right now, and they need to be in a grass state.”

Natural Resources Conservation Service conservationist Matt Meyerhoff said trees and vegetation that are native to prairie land wouldn’t be removed, and non-native trees outside the 30-foot buffer, such as many from recent plantings, would remain. Some non-native trees that protect against erosion could stay, he said.

“We’ve got one spot where we’ve got cedars marked where we did not mark that for removal,” he said. “It would be on a case-by-case basis.”

Commission Chairman Dan Holub asked if the funds could be used to pull fallen trees out of the lake. Meyerhoff said the lake was one of four areas included in the proposal, and that the combined request is more than KDHE has allotted. Roberts said the grass buffer should take priority.

The plan sent to KDHE is not an application for funding, Meyerhoff said. Proposals will be evaluated by KDHE, which will then determine who can submit a formal application.

Last modified April 22, 2015

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