For years Manteno Park has been the most popular public area that the Shelby County Conservation Board manages. The lake at the park was constructed back in the early 1960s along with many others in the Mill-Pic Watershed to help control sediment and slow down the cutting action of Mill Creek and its tributaries. Over the years, the lake has done its job and sediment has been retained. This has caused the lake to be shallow in many areas with the sunlight easily penetrating to the bottom causing excessive aquatic vegetation. This has made it very frustrating for anglers in the summer months, resulting in less campers and fishermen using the park.
According to area DNR fisheries biologist Bryan Hayes, the lake experiences annual aquatic plant growth resulting in 60% of the surface acres covered. This interferes with the balance of the fish population. Twenty-five percent vegetation coverage is desirable and considered the standard sought after from a management standpoint. Chemical treatment and grass carp have been used annually with only temporary relief, if any. These practices are only treating the symptoms; while deepening the area will get at the real problem. A grant through Fish Habitat fees was recently obtained to accomplish this deepening.
The first stage of renovation has been completed using a drag line and long reach backhoe to reach out as far as possible from the north shoreline to remove and pile as much sediment as can be stacked on shore. This was done from about the boat ramp area on to the west to the footbridge, including about 1500 feet of shoreline. These are areas where most bank fishermen frequent. After the sediment was spread along the north shoreline to dry and then was leveled out. Trees will be planted in this area next spring. The Shelby County Conservation Board is once again applying for a fish habitat grant this fall. If funds are awarded, another section of shoreline will be done to improving the fishery.