Nearly nine years ago, the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors and Higman Sand & Gravel, of Akron, made a land swap deal.
The agreement, signed in January 2004, stated that Higman Sand & Gravel could have an old gravel pit adjacent to its property that was no longer useable by the county.
In return, the company would build a fishing lake east of the Big Sioux River, and a boat ramp on the river, along with providing the county with 850,000 tons of gravel at a discounted price.
The Ron Wilmot River Access boat ramp has been completed.
Construction of the about 22-acre fishing lake, north of 180th Street and west of Highway 12, is ongoing.
Through the years the lake project has faced delays such as the permitting process with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said Justin Higman, owner of Higman Sand & Gravel.
"The county decided their priority was to get the boat ramp in first so we did that," he said. "The permit for the lake got pushed back in the DNR's office."
Mother Nature also played a part in delaying the project, Higman said.
"We got the permit in 2010 for the lake," he said. "Last year in 2011 we were going to start, but we had that flood."
The high water level in the former farmland area put lake construction on hold for another year until water levels went down, Higman said.
Last winter workers began stripping dirt from the pond, which will have an average depth of 14 feet, Higman said.
"I think it took about a month," he said. "There was anywhere between 2 and 5 feet of dirt on top of the sand."
This past summer work continued on the lake with construction of a berm all the way around the site to keep the Big Sioux River out.
"Originally there was no berm in the agreement," Higman said. "We did it to make it a better end product for everybody."
Plymouth County Board of Supervisor's Chairman Jim Henrich explained that when the lake is stocked with "good fish" they could swim out if the river flooded the lake.
"There will also be a picnic area around the lake," he said.
Higman's workers have spent the last few weeks digging sand out of the lake site -- seven days a week -- and hauling it away in trucks.
"We're trying to take advantage of the weather," Higman said. "Once it gets cold enough, we won't be able to do it."
He asked that people stay away from the mining site, which is on private property until the lake is complete and the deed transferred to the county.
Higman cautioned that even though 180th Street is a public county road, it is still a dangerous situation with trucks hauling daily.
"We would appreciate it if people would stay away until the job is completed," he said.
Higman added that trespassers on the private land will be prosecuted.
"I'm trying to avoid accidents," he said. "It still is an active mining operation."
Higman said the goal is to have the 22-acre lake completed late next summer.
"It will take all of next year to complete, transfer the deed and stock it with fish," he said. "My goal is to have the county take over the deed by January 2014."
Henrich said he's pleased with the recent progress on the lake.
"They're getting a long way," Henrich said. "It's going to be pretty nice when it's done."
The new lake recreation site was recently named River's Bend Wildlife Area.