The stream that has flowed through the village of Mount Vernon into Minnehonk Lake next to the town beach and fire department building hasn’t been able to reach the lake for many years. The silt and sand had built up from runoff into the stream from North Road over the years, and by 2019 it was blocked by the cattails and other growth from entering the lake creating a 20-foot by 10-foot pond when it rained, according to a news release from Sandy Wright, president of the Mount Vernon Community Partnership Corp.

The corp conducted a watershed survey of the lake in 2012, and dredging the blockage was one of the many projects taken on by the community group. In partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation, most of the problems causing non-point pollution in the village were fixed.

In 2019 MaineDOT replaced the culvert under North Road with an 8-foot wide flat-bottomed culvert, which enables fish easier access to the lake. Unfortunately, the fish then met the pile of silt and couldn’t reach the lake. The partnership began working with the Select Board to solve the problem.

The corp and Clyde Dyar, then on the Select Board, met with and received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Land Resources, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the dredging. The Select Board approved the cost of dredging the stream from North Road to the lake, and the corp and the Greater Minnehonk Lake Association donated $2,000 to cover the cost.

According to the release, on Oct. 8 and 9, the Horne Construction Company of Mount Vernon, one of a few companies that has the approval of doing this type of work, began dredging. They removed 500 yards of sand, and Donald Horne of Horne Construction said they probably reached the original depth of the stream as they ran into sawdust, and there was a sawmill at the site many years ago, probably 100. Wright told Horne she could believe that because when the MaineDOT worked to improve the drainage system in the village of Mount Vernon (another project of the corp with the Select Board in 2014), the MaineDOT told her when they dug Main Street for the new catch basins, they discovered the old log road about 10 feet down that was also 100 or so years old.

Now smelts will be able to spawn in the stream as they used to. Trout fry will be able to grow as opposed to being bait for larger fish, which will help maintain the fisheries in the lake. It was a place where smelts spawned every spring and trout six to seven inches were caught. Minnehonk Lake will be healthier, and fishermen will be happy.

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