- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Crews have begun turning an overgrown stretch of Clear Lake’s shoreline into a public access area.

The Globe Gazette (http://bit.ly/1SY4YKo ) reports that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has already begun work on the stretch of shoreline, which will be transformed into a day-use area for grill-outs, picnics and a stop for bikers and walkers.

Crews have cleared brush and plan to place basketball-sized rocks along the 160 feet of shoreline, raise and seed the newly cleared site and move in picnic tables and grills.

Steve Schurtz, the vice president of a north Iowa cycling club, is excited about the amenities the project will offer.

“It sounds like it’s going to be a really nice facility with picnic tables, benches and porta-potties,” said Schurtz, of Mason City. “For cyclists riding around the lake, it’ll be a nice stopping point.”

But concerns have come from Hobie Cat enthusiasts who won’t be able to leave their small sailboats on the shoreline all summer. Boats can still be launched from the sand access, but overnight mooring will be banned.

Steve Brewer fears that forcing people to pull set up their sailboats each time they go out could hurt his Hobie fleet.

“I’m not gonna say (our club will) die without this access, but there’s potential,” said Brewer, who lives in Cedar Rapids but has a home in Clear Lake. “It’s really hard for somebody that we’re trying to bring into the sport locally for them to find something that works for a beach (catamaran).”

The department’s wildlife bureau previously oversaw the little-used part of Lekwa Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Its parks department will now be in charge of the site.

The department hopes to have the area complete by mid-summer.

“We’re hoping to get a lot of traffic from the kayakers and canoers (and) people riding bikes stopping by,” said Josh Rembe, a ranger at Clear Lake State Park.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/

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