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Council addresses local blight battles
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Great Bend city officials continue to work with state experts and officials on two very different blights that have struck the community, and there are some signs of success in both battles, the Great Bend City Council learned Monday night.
The council dealt with issues involving a tree disease and a tainted local lake, Monday night.
Human Resources Director Terry Hoff told the council that he was unable to stop the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks from depositing more fish in Veterans Lake, so the city still had to pay for another drop off of state fish.
Hoff was, however, able to communicate with the KDWP officials and make sure there will be no further stockings this year.
He also learned that the officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which posted the local lake as inadvisable for fishing due to an algae bloom, had not communicated that information to the KDWP staff, so they would know there was a problem with local fishing.
On the other hand, Hoff reported, the KDWP officials said the algae bloom does not render the fish in Vets Lake unsuitable for consumption, and as the colder weather closes down algae production for the fall and winter, the lake should be fishable again soon, so throughout the cool and cold weather months and on into next spring, the fishing should resume. And that would include fishing for the stocked trout.
It is hoped that the lake will not have a return of algae growth next year, though the presence did not lead to a fish kill this year, which was surprising, Hoff noted.
To address the possibility of future algae issues and oxygen levels in the lake, Hoff said the city is attempting to get a grant to install equipment that would help in that issue.
That would not stop the growth of algae under the right conditions, however.
City staff have also continued to work with state experts to combat the introduction of pine wilt in the community, and the council approved a low bid of $2,250 from Ark Valley Tree Service to remove infected trees. However, there will need to be a change order on that project, because since the bids were accepted, a sixth tree has been identified, Assistant City Administrator Dawn Jaeger reported.
According to information from the Kansas Department of Agriculture, pine wilt disease is devastating to the introduced pine species, which have proven popular for decades in residential areas, because they are so hearty in other ways.
“Symptoms of pine wilt begin to occur in mid summer and continue into early winter in Kansas.
“Overall, symptoms include flagging of branches, wilting of needles, absence of resin in branches, and rapid death of the tree.
Pine species that are at risk, commonly found in Kansas, include the Scots, Austrian, Japanese Black, white pine, and loblolly pines.”
Local officials have been working on identifying infected specimens, a process that will continue in the community.