Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

November 28, 2012

Ideas to curb gull issues sought

Steve Woodhouse

Pella — Just a couple of years ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Red Rock spent a great deal of money improve North Overlook Beach. However, the beach has not been able to be used to its full potential, due to bacterial issues.

“Very frustrating,” is how Assistant Operations Manager John Holt describes the situation.

The Corps speculates that the bacterial problems can be traced to the influx of gulls at the lake. The gulls are coming from southern Canada and the northern United States. As they travel south, they seek out beaches and large bodies of water, which leads them to Red Rock.

“They do like big bodies of water and we've created the biggest body of water in the state here,” Holt said.

“We've tried doing different things to change their habits,” Holt added. “That's not easy.” The Corps has even gone so far as to purchase plastic coyotes to stand on the beach. The gulls were not fooled. They were also not intimidated by Park Rangers, going to their favorite areas to harass them.

They continue to come to the lake by the thousands and spend a lot of time there. The population can fluctuate.

Holt said the Corps is meeting its obligation for safety by routinely testing the water for bacteria. The Corps follows Environmental Protection Agency guidelines administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

If anyone has suggestions for alleviating the Corps' gull problem, the Corps is willing to hear them.