Some reluctant to forgo land in effort to help Lake Mitchell

Farm Forum

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — The city of Mitchell’s mayor wants more buffer strips along a creek in order to help Lake Mitchell, but some farmers are reluctant to forgo land.

The Daily Republic ( ) reports the lake has issues with algae. Grasses that are untamed line Firesteel Creek in lengthy stretches and protect it from livestock and agricultural runoff, and Mayor Jerry Toomey wants more buffer zones to lessen nutrient loading.

Larry Hasz, a farmer northwest of Mitchell, senses that it would hurt business to fence off the creek from his son-in-law’s cattle.

“We need the pasture to run our cattle on,” Hasz said. “That’s our livelihood.”

Certainty has been expressed over the past year by members of the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee that algae issues in the lake come from nutrient loading along the creek.

Sean Kruger of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said he doesn’t “think there’s any one smoking gun that’s causing all of the algal problems.”

“It’s the sum of the situation,” said Kruger, who is an environmental scientist.

Toomey said that for the city to take part in restoring the lake is important.

“No matter how small the impact is, it’s at least showing people that we’re doing something,” Toomey said. “We’re serious about cleaning up our lake and it needs to be a project that both the rural and city people get involved in if we truly care about our lake.”

A city ordinance was approved recently to prohibit the disposal of grass cuttings, tree debris and other garbage into public water bodies, the newspaper reported.

Toomey thinks that to save the lake, it’s up to South Dakota legislators and the governor to require Firesteel Creek buffer strips.