Annual Friends of Atascadero Lake cleanup was Saturday, Oct. 19

ATASCADERO — Armed with clippers and shears, volunteers took to the banks of Atascadero Lake in an annual beautification project Oct. 19. The yearly production founded by the nonprofit Friends of Atascadero Lake is one of the many ways the organization cares for one of the jewels of the city. Helpers included residents and teenagers from the Grizzly Youth Academy, a local organization that assists “at-risk” youth and offers an alternative educational structure for high schoolers. 

On a bright fall Saturday morning, the group gathered around a bench still adjusting to the chilly mornings and listened to a brief presentation by Tyson, a City of Atascadero Maintenance worker. Tyson outlined the cleaning up protocol laid out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The City owns the body of water but it is classified as a blue-line stream by the U.S. Geological Service and therefore the lake falls under government regulations and supervision.  

“We’re doing this because we have a permit through Fish and Wildlife and so we have to keep by the rules of the permit,” said Tyson.

The group was instructed not to cut down any tree with a trunk that was 4 inches in diameter at chest height and warned not to disturb two “sensitive species;” the California red-legged frog and the Western Pond Turtle. 

The annual cleanup is just one of the ways that the group works toward the well-being of the reservoir. Through fundraisers and donations, it paid for the drilling of a new well that keeps the lake a lake during the dry season. The nonprofit continues to pay $5,100 annually to power the well’s pump to feed the lake. FAL also added three aerators that add air to the water to keep the body of water healthy.

As a proponent for the lake, FAL also works with the City to fight the ongoing algae overgrowth problem. This year dye was added to increase the opaqueness of the water cutting down the sunlight that feeds the algae. FAL Secretary Nancy Hair said that probiotics were also added to assist in the breakdown of the growth. Algae are neither plant, animal or fungi, but classified as photosynthetic creatures. The light feeding species produce oxygen, however, an overabundance of them decaying can deplete oxygen levels in the water referred to as a “summer kill” of aquatic plants and animals. 

FAL President Bob Edmonds said that he was pleased with how the City is working with the organization to help restore and beautify the lake. Edmonds says FAL has the funds to install additional aerators in the lake but are currently waiting on the City’s approval. 

“This is the City’s lake and as much as we’d like to do or whatever we’d like to do must be approved by the City,” said Edmond.

For more information or to join Friends of Atascadero Lake, visit friendsofatascaderolake.com.