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Discover Bass Lake Nature Preserve; 52 acres of wetland and woodland
hidden right in the midst of Saint Louis Park.
Volunteer Projects 2018--Get involved--
create a better outdoor environment
and greater recreational opportunities
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Help Relink the Chain,
Calhoun, Isles, Cedar, Harriet…Bass Lake
Stretching before you is the 40 acre remnant basin of the once beautiful 80 acre Bass Lake. The shores stretched to City Hall and the waters were deep, clean, and spring fed. Old timers remember fishing here and kids rafted on the water just 12 years ago.
Today the waters of Bass Lake are hypereutrophic; meaning high in phosphorous and low in oxygen. The cattail vegetation no longer decomposes but falls and rots, forming a massive floating bog and producing methane gas. The native cattails have been replaced by narrow leaf hybrid cattails and a monoculture has formed just as a monoculture of buckthorn is forming in the upland forest.
Bass Lake historically connected to Lake Calhoun through a winding creek, replaced in the early 1900s by a ditch, and later with a pipe. In the 1960s, the St. Louis Park storm sewer system was built with concrete pipes funneling 1,350 acres of upstream unfiltered water into the Lake. Combined with dumping, filling, and draining the degradation was complete. The lake was finally bulldozed and divided into house lots. However, underground springs reclaimed the basin. When the Park Glen Apartments were built in the early 1980s the ownership paved a walking path around the lake and opened it to the public.
Bass Lake was officially declared dead by the DNR in 2015 and reclassified a Type 4 wetland. Having done so little to protect Bass Lake, St. Louis Park now finds itself with a 40 acre weed choked stormwater pond with partially submerged storm pipes that threaten to flood the upstream watershed with every big rain.
Over the years environmental groups have organized to restore the lake but none has been successful. In 2008 the Friends of Bass Lake was organized because the water level had dropped dramatically with the deterioration of the outlet dam. Six years later hybrid cattails have taken over the exposed marsh bottom and only a few acres of open water remain.
The Friends of Bass Lake has written a resolution to the City Council broadening the stewardship of the wetland to include the SLP Department of Community Development and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. The ‘public waters’ of Bass Lake that flow to Lake Calhoun belong to all of us and require our dediction. Visit www.friendsofbasslake.com to learn more, become a member, and help relink the broken chain of lakes.
Replacement Outlet Structure 2018, City St. Louis Park Engineering
New water level established by DNR at 872.2 ft. elevation (see Bass Lake History tab above for historic water levels).
Barely beat the sun! Permit is issued by DNR for kayak launch in late February and volunteers clear the cattails the following Saturday March 3rd. Next day the lake melted open.
The next step is dredging out the roots when the lake ice is gone. Add a dock and kayak and explore the lake channels.
Bold Vision for the Restoration of Bass Lake Nature Preserve
It takes Lake Calhoun and Pollution Control regulators ten years to track down the source of PFOs through Bass Lake to a St. Louis Park business.
The map below replicates the open water
size of Bass Lake following the contour line
for the water level recorded at the Bass Lake train
Depot in 1888. Notice its size in relationship to the
city lakes. The corresponding water level recorded at the Bass Lake train depot was 880 ft. elevation. The water level is currently at 870.5 ft. elevation. The bottom of the lake has been probed to 6.5 ft. depth. This establishes Bass Lake historically as about 15 ft. in depth.. Lakes of that depth today are considered 'environmental lakes' with open water in the middle and marshy edges. (see Lake Depth tab for historical documentation).
Not much remains of Bass Lake after 100 years of environmental degradation. Click on the on the 'get directions' button below to see Bass Lake in relation to the incredible recreational assets the city lakes became. Click on the history tab above to learn the troubled past of Bass Lake.