County’s cleanup of Foster continues

Sean C. Morgan

Linn County Parks and Recreation has removed most of the wood debris from Foster Lake.

Linn County has been removing debris for the past month.

“At this point we’re just trying to sweep critical areas, trying to make the lake as safe as possible this summer,” said Parks Director Brian Carroll.

Most of the remaining debris is along the shoreline, but the county probably won’t get everything along the shore before the operation ends Friday, he said. “We’re in pretty good shape right now.”

July 4, as far as officials could tell, there wasn’t much debris for boaters to deal with, Carroll said.

Carroll said he still wants to get two or three of the worst areas on the lake.

Carroll is concerned about debris that gets into the boat ramps, he said. Other places are not as much a problem.

“There are some spots the debris just sits in there and doesn’t move,” Carroll said.

The county paid $14,000 for the first week of operations, Carroll said. About half of the cost has been recouped. The county is planning to sell more debris, but that probably won’t happen until September.

He thinks all of the costs will be recouped then, Carroll said.

“They’ve identified markets for the material, and the reports we’re getting have been positive,” said Katherine Beal, environmental stewardship supervisor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Such an arrangement could be viable long term.

Carroll said he will discuss the issue with Beal later this month or in August about where to go next.

“I think we’ve got to sit down after this year and figure out what to do,” Carroll said. Somebody has got to clean it up.

He doesn’t know who might end up doing that, he said. “We just know that it needs to be done.”

The lake had more debris than usual on it this year following a rainy winter and spring. Some have likened it to the debris that accumulated following the 1996 flood.

The Corps of Engineers removed 60 truckloads of woody debris from the lake, but substantial amounts of debris remained in the lake, worrying local officials about the impact on recreation.

The Corps’ authorization to remove debris is limited to protecting its structures.

Although the lake is largely clear of debris, Beal said boaters should remain cautious about possible submerged logs. No amount of sweeping can make the lake risk free.