Saving a 'secret oasis' in North Dakota

Community battles to protect the shoreline at Stump Lake Park

At Stump Lake, in this northeast corner of North Dakota, a winding road leads through a mass of green-leaved trees to a picturesque park perched out on a peninsula.

Here you’ll find a popular campground, an old-style historic pavilion, and a spot to fish, play ball or gather for a family picnic. It’s a place the locals from Nelson County like to call their “secret oasis.” But for years, the community has had to watch parts of their favorite park disappear, as wind-swept waves steadily erode the shoreline and rising water levels encroach upon the land.

“The waves have just been decimating the shoreline,” says Jack Davidson, Nelson County’s auditor.

Over the past three decades, Davidson notes, wave action has caused Stump Lake Park’s shoreline to recede some 500 feet, while water levels have climbed by 45 feet due to increased rainfall and flooding from nearby Devils Lake.

“The biggest challenge is preventing further loss of the park shoreline, and water levels have got to the point where the pavilion could be flooded,” he says, referring to the Old Settler’s Pavilion, a 1920s-vintage building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Now a new community project, launched by the Nelson County Park Board, promises to save the park and its historic landmark. Earlier this fall the board announced an ambitious undertaking to stabilize the banks and re-establish about 1,800 feet of shoreline.

For Davidson, the board’s secretary, it’s a chance to preserve a park that lies at the heart of the community and attracts about 20,000 visitors each year.

“Everyone in Nelson County is very proud of our park,” he says.

Work has already started on removing debris in the water. In the spring, construction crews will slope the shoreline to remove a vertical drop-off, install fabric and build up rock to protect the park from further erosion. Davidson expects the work to be wrapped up by late August 2016.

To support the project, Enbridge announced a $100,000 grant this past summer as part of our Ecofootprint Grant Program—a three-year, $3-million initiative that funds environmental stewardship initiatives in communities along our Sandpiper and Line 3 Replacement project corridors.

“We’re just elated to get this grant. Projects like this one don’t get done without the help of lots of partners, and we’re very grateful to Enbridge,” says Davidson.

Nelson County’s ambitious $725,000 initiative is also receiving financial support from the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund and the State Water Commission.

“Enbridge is pleased to join with the project’s other funders to provide a long-term solution for this important park,” says Cindy Finch, a Minnesota-based senior public affairs advisor with Enbridge.

“Nelson County’s bank stabilization project will preserve the park and its facilities for future generations.”