Central Park Lake Project progress update

Paul Sleeper, a biologist with the IDNR Fisheries Management Office, helps stock Central Park Lake with fingerling bluegills. The stocked fish are quite small, and it will take a few years until the fish are large enough for harvest. (Photos submitted)

Various forms of fish habitat were installed into the new lakebed at Central Park. The lake is slowly filling with water from rain and the watershed. The Lake Restoration Project is scheduled for completion yet this fall.
Michele Olson
Environmental Specialist, Jones Co. Conservation

     As many of you know, the Central Park Lake Restoration Project is in full swing with access components of the project scheduled to be completed some time in the fall of 2018! Progress is made week by week as crews work on the renovated boat ramp area, new fishing pier, walkway, picnic area, and parking lot, and improvements and access to the south-side beach area.

     With all of the construction and activity at Central Park, our staff receives many questions. Here are some answers to a few common questions we receive in the Conservation Board Office:

Are you filling the lake yet? Yes. Central Park Lake is filling as rainwater from the watershed enters the lake. The more rain we receive locally, the quicker the lake will fill. Fish habitat placed within the lakebed is quickly disappearing as the water rises. Anyone wanting to see where the fishing holes will be should come out to get a good look now. Rock reefs, rock riles, trees, fish spawning shelves, and artificial fish shrub buckets will soon be underwater.

What are those blue things in the lake? Many people have noticed our blue pipe and 5-gallon bucket fish habitat shrubs. These are artificial fish habitat components that have been placed within the lake to provide needed habitat for fish and aquatic insects and invertebrates.

When are you going to stock Central Park Lake with fish? Fingerling bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish have already been stocked. Red-eared sunfish and black crappie will be stocked at a later date. These stocked fish are very small and will take several years to grow large enough for harvest.

Where can I fish while I am waiting for the fish that were stocked to grow bigger? Central Park’s West Pond, located at the far west end of the primitive camping loop, has catchable bluegill, largemouth bass, and catfish. Mowed trails lead around the pond for recreational and conservation access. Canoes and kayaks can also be used on the pond.

Can I kayak or canoe on the main lake yet? Yes; however, access to the water’s edge will be challenging until the lake reaches normal water levels. Some access points may be inaccessible due to construction activities. Please use caution when accessing the lake.

Will there be a map of the lake and the fish habitat? Yes. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will be compiling a map of the lake depth and habitat components. This map will eventually be available on park signs and handouts, and at the IDNR and Jones County Conservation Board websites.

How deep will the lake be? Depths will vary depending on your location within the lakebed, but many areas will be 10-15 feet deep. In addition, there will be many shallower areas near shore and where fish habitat components have been placed including rock reefs, rock piles, and spawning shelves.

When will the beach at Central Park be open? Access components, including the beach, are planned to be completed in the fall of 2018. In all likelihood, the beach at Central Park will not be open until the 2019 season.

Is Central Park Campground open? You bet! Camping at Central Park is open. Central Park does not take reservations for camping. Campers self-register when they arrive at the campground, but must have a camping unit with them to place on the site when they register. Fully modern sites with sewage hookup, electricity, and water hookups are available, as well as semi-modern sites with only electricity and water, electric-only sites, and primitive sites with no hookups. Prices vary by site.

     I encourage everyone to head out to check out the Central Park Lake progress – it’s about a quarter of the way full. If you are not able to head out to Central Park, make sure you check out our Facebook page at “Jones County Conservation.” We update our page every couple of days. Information can also be found on the county website at www.jonescountyiowa.org/conservation.



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