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White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

Two Watercraft Inspector Supervisor Positions Now Open

North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District, located in Virginia, MN, is seeking 2 (seasonal) Watercraft Inspector Supervisors for the 2024 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program.  Supervisors will assist with activities including watercraft inspections,

AIS public outreach, Inspector supervision, and AIS detection monitoring. More detailed information can be found at:


The deadline for application submissions is February 19, 2024.

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White Iron Chain of Lakes are Ice Free

The White Iron Chain of Lakes are now ice free.  White Iron and Farm Lakes were mostly ice free by May 8th, but it wasn’t until the afternoon of May 9th that all the ice was gone.  This year, the ice went out a day earlier than last year.  The latest ice out date was May 14th in 2012.  Both lakes were covered in ice for 166 days, one more day than last year.  The average number of days of ice on White Iron is 162.

Enjoy the open water and remember to always wear your personal floatation device (life jacket) because the water is very cold.

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White Iron and Farm Lakes Ice On and Off Data

White Iron and Farm Lakes Ice Information

The following tables display the known ice on and ice off dates for White Iron and Farm Lakes.  If you have kept records of ice and off, and can fill in any of the missing data, please let us know.


White Iron Lake Ice On and Off Dates

Ice On

Ice Off

Total Days of Ice Cover

November 24, 2022



November 26, 2021

May 10, 2022


November 30, 2020*

April 14, 2021


November 8, 2019

April 30, 2020


November 14, 2018

April 28, 2019


November 10, 2017

May 7, 2018


?, 2016

April 14, 2017



April 20, 2016


November 18, 2014

April 17, 2015


November 24, 2013

May 12, 2014


November 22, 2012

May 14, 2013



March 25, 2012



April 29, 2011


*The lake was iced over on November 23 but opened up because of wind and warm temperatures.

The earliest ice off date is April 14 and the latest ice off date is May 14.  Median ice off date is April 28. Average number of days with ice on is 162.


Farm Lake Ice On and Off Dates

Ice On

Ice Off

Total Days of Ice

November 24, 2022



?,  2021

May 10, 2022


November 20, 2020

April 13, 2021



May 1, 2020


November 18, 2018

?, 2019


November 10, 2017

?, 2018


December 9, 2016

April 13, 2017


December 1, 2015

April 21, 2016


?, 2014

April 17, 2015


November 24, 2013

May 12, 2014


November 26, 2012

May 14, 2013


November 30, 2011

?, 2012


The earliest ice off date is April 13 and the latest ice off date is May 14.  Median ice out date is April 25. Average number of days with ice on is 149.

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How to Comment on FS Proposal to Withdraw Land from New Mineral Leasing

WICOLA members,

Please see the following information that the Superior National Forest recently sent out.  The White Iron Chain of Lakes are in the headwaters of the Rainy River Watershed.  See information below on how to participate and submit comments.


Dear Interested Individuals, Governments, and Organizations,

 On October 21, 2021, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a notice in the Federal Register initiating a 90-day public comment period on an application from the Forest Service to withdraw 225,378 acres of land from new mineral leasing in the Rainy River Watershed near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for 20 years. The Forest Service submitted the withdrawal application to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages subsurface rights in the Superior National Forest, on September 28, 2021.   

After reviewing the application, the BLM accepted the application and published a notice in the Federal Register, initiating a two-year segregation that temporarily prohibits the issuance of new Federal mineral prospecting permits or leased in the withdrawal area.  During the segregation period, the BLM and the Forest Service will seek public comment and complete necessary studies, analysis and reports required to inform the Secretary of the Interior’s decision on whether to withdraw the lands from mining laws for 20-years.   

 We are seeking your comments on the proposal to inform the scope of the environmental analysis. Comments will be accepted through January 19, 2022. Comments must be submitted in writing, or electronically to the Bureau of Land Management for consideration. Comments previously submitted during the 2018 application for withdrawal will be reviewed and considered in the development of the Forest Service’s current environmental analysis.  Since the Secretary of the Interior will make the decision, the project is not subject to Forest Service objection or appeal procedures. 

 Comments will be used to determine issues associated with the proposed withdrawal, develop alternatives, determine the scope of analysis, and refine the effects analysis. Comments are most useful and effective if they refer to a specific activity or example, provide a potential solution, or propose mitigation.    

Comments regarding this withdrawal proposal should be sent to: F. David Radford, Deputy State Director of Geospatial Services, BLM Eastern States Office, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia 22041; or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

 Public Meetings 

The BLM will hold virtual public meetings on the following dates and times via Zoom.   

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Central Standard Time
  • Saturday, January 15, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Central Standard Time
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Central Standard Time

The purpose of the meetings is to learn from the public what issues they are most concerned about so the agencies can ensure those concerns are addressed in the environmental analysis. The meeting will open with a short introduction by agency leadership, followed by a listening session in which attendees selected in advance via a lottery may provide verbal comments. Each speaker will be allotted up to three minutes. Verbal comments, including names, will become an official part of the record. Each session will accommodate up to 3,000 individual users and will include a phone line option.

If you wish to provide an official comment during one of the meetings, you must pre-register 48 hours in advance of the meeting you plan to attend. Agencies will use a lottery system to randomly select speakers from the list of registrants for each meeting. If you are selected to speak, you will by notified by email from the Forest Service 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

You must register to receive a Zoom link or phone number to call into the meeting. Listen only participants may register and join the zoom link, or listen to the meeting livestreamed in real-time on the BLM Eastern States’ YouTube account.

All comments received (including names and addresses) will become part of the project record and will be available for public inspection. All meetings will be recorded.

Register for the Meeting on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, CST at

Register for the Meeting on Saturday, January 15, 2022, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., CST at

Register for the Meeting on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., CST at

In order to provide informed comments about this action, commenters can review the documents available on the project website

 All comments received (including names and addresses) will become part of the project record and will be available for public inspection.   Public meetings will be recorded.

Thank you for your interest and involvement in management of the Superior National Forest.


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Ice On and Ice Off Dates for White Iron Lake

Ice on and off dates for White Iron Lake


The following table shows the dates that ice covered the entire lake and the dates the lake is completely free of ice.  We don’t have ice on dates for 2017, 2016, or 2012.  If you have this information, please let us know.



Ice On

Ice off

# of days with ice


November 26




November 30*

April 30



November 18

April 28



November 14

May 7



November 10

April 14




April 20




April 17



November 18

May 12



November 24

May 14



November 22

March 25




April 29


*White Iron iced over on November 23 but opened up and froze again on November 30. 


The following information is from the MN DNR web site at

Ice is Never 100% Safe!

Ice in dates should not be used to track ice thickness for recreational use. Ice conditions can change rapidly and should be checked frequently. 

When is ice safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.  Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet.


Did you know?

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly-formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially-thawed ice may not.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

Booming and cracking ice isn't necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.

For more information on ice safety contact the MN DNR and ask for our free ice safety publications, which include the brochures, "Danger, Thin Ice" and "Cold Water Kills" and the wallet-sized reference card and 11X14 posters titled, "Minimum Recommended Ice Thicknesses." Metro (651) 296-6157 or toll free outside the metro area 1-888-646-6367 or email the Information Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


 If you venture out on to the ice, please be smart and safe.


 WICOLA champions high water quality and a healthy lake ecosystem in the White Iron Chain of Lakes through scientific and educational activities.




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The Unstoppable Catastrophic Wildfire

Check out this article on the 1988 Mother’s Day Fire and how to be prepared for wildfires...

The Unstoppable Catastrophic Wildfire

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Help Get Rid of Non-native Invasive Species

Help get rid of non-native invasive species!

The North St. Louis Soil & Water Conservation District will have a Conservation Corps Crew coming to the Ely area to treat and remove invasive buckthorn, Siberian peashrub, and non-native honeysuckles the week of Nov 8th (Mon-Thurs). The work is limited to these species through a Minnesota Department of Agriculture Grant.

If you are interested in getting involved or helping with this effort, please contact Becca Reis, the Community Conservationist with the North St. Louis Soil & Water Conservation District at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fill out the form at:

You can also find the link at

Please help out if you can. 

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Fire Information Links

White Iron Chain of Lakes Association thanks all the firefighters and others who are working on the Greenwood Fire and the other fires in the area.We appreciate the efforts of the firefighters, pilots, equipment operators, fire management teams, and the local fire departments doing structure patrol.Thank you.

We also really appreciate the Superior National Forest, Lake County, and the Minnesota Incident Command groups for keeping us updated on the fire and the evacuations.

For the latest information on the fires, the following links provide the official updates, closure orders, maps, and evacuation information.Go to the Lake County web page for information on how to register for county emergency alerts. (this link shows the evacuation zones)

For Superior National Forest Closures and Restrictions, go to:

For MN DNR Fire Restrictions, go to: 

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WICOLA Annual Meeting on August 12

White Iron Chain of Lakes Association

Annual Meeting

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Grand Ely Lodge

Come and join us for our WICOLA Annual Meeting and dinner at the Grand Ely Lodge on Thursday August 12, 2021. Social hour and cash bar will be from 5 – 6 pm and dinner at 6 pm, followed by our program speaker, and business meeting. The cost of the dinner is $25 per person. Members are welcome to include guests.

We are lucky to have this year's program speaker, Dr. Jessica Hellmann.She is the Executive Director of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and the Ecolab Chair in Environmental Leadership. Jessica's research focuses on global change ecology, climate adaptation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. She was among the first to propose and study ways to reduce the impact of climate change through new techniques in conservation management. She is on the board of directors of the National Audubon Society, the Science Museum of Minnesota, COMPASS, and the Great Plants Institute. Jessica is a WICOLA member and enjoys her time on White Iron Lake. It should be an exciting presentation.

During the business meeting, we will elect new board members for 2022-2023, vote on Bylaw changes, and review our accomplishments this past year. Members are welcomed to attend and participate in the program and business meeting if they do not wish to attend the dinner. We are also working to add a Zoom option for anyone wanting to attend via the internet. Please contact Jeff Pike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to attend via the internet.

The WICOLA Nominating Committee will present a slate of nominations for the 2022-2023 board positions of Treasurer, Secretary, Birch Lake Representative, Farm Lake Representative, and East White Iron Representative. Nominations for all positions may also be submitted by any member at the Annual Meeting. We also have vacant positions for Vice President and West White Iron Representative positions for anyone wanting to apply. We need you to join the Board! If interested in being on the Board, please contact Jeff at the above email.

For reservations for dinner, please list the name of person attending, note if they are a WICOLA member or a guest, and dinner option for each attendee.  Dinner options include 1) Prime Rib, 2) Chicken, 3) Walleye, or 4) Vegetarian Ravioli.  Email this informaiton to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by August 4 or mail to WICOLA at PO Box 493, Ely MN  55731.    Dinner is $25 per person. Payment can be mailed via check, paid as a donation through our webpage at, paid at the door, or through PayPal.  

As an alternative to paying by check, you can pay electronically if you have a PayPal account. Use the "Send Money" option of the PayPal app and designate WICOLA's e-mail address using: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include "For WICOLA Annual Meeting" in the Note section of the payment instructions.

If you have any questions about the Annual Meeting or WICOLA, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WICOLA champions high water quality and a healthy lake ecosystem in the White Iron Chain of Lakes watershed through scientific and educational activities. 

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Free Online Workshop - Septic Systems and Wells

Free Online Workshop for Homeowners on Septic Systems and Wells on Tuesday May 18, 2021 at 6 pm

Join Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District for a free online workshop for homeowners on septic systems and private wells! Register on the Lake Coutny website (registration is not necessary for attendance, but will allow us to send a reminder): This two-hour class will be held via Zoom, and connection details are below. They will cover the basics of how septic systems function, well water testing, and how to help protect your well from contamination sources. It will also provide property owners information on chemicals of emerging concern (CEC), including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and the potential impact on ground and surface water. Information on proper maintenance of both septic systems and private drinking water systems will be covered to help property owners protect their investments and the environment. 

This event is being held by Lake County SWCD, and presenters are from the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program and the Minnesota Department of Health. 

Zoom Link: Meeting ID: 917 3144 0758 

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White Iron Chain of Lakes Ice Out 2021

Ice is out on the White Iron Chain of Lakes

Ice out on White Iron happened on April 14, 2021 at 10:30 in the morning.This year it gradually disappeared. No ice pushed up on shorelines.The first canoers were observed paddling under the Silver Rapids bridge the same day, paddling hard against the current.The water is very high right now and the Kawishiwi Falls are roaring.Worth a trip to see all the water.

Volunteers reported the following ice out dates:

  • Birch Lake Finn Bay - April 9 
  • White Iron Lake – April 14
  • Garden Lake – April 13
  • Farm Lake – April 13

Previous ice dates for White Iron are

2020 – April 30

2019 – April 28

2018 – May 7

2017 – April 14

2016 – April 20

2015 – April 17

2014 – May 12

2013 – May 14

2012 – March 25

2011 – April 29

The following link provides additional from the MN DNR web site that reports the earliest, latest, and median ice out dates that you may find

Enjoy the White Iron Chain of Lakes and if you go boating, please be safe and wear your person flotation device.

WICOLA champions high water quality and a healthy lake ecosystem in the White Iron Chain of Lakes through scientific and educational activities. 

Birch Lake Finn Bay on April 9, 2021
View of White Iron from near Ring Rock
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Getting the lead out. It only takes a piece of lead the size of a grain of rice to kill a bird.

Getting the lead out.

It only takes a piece of lead the size of a grain of rice to kill a bird.

By JIM WILLIAMS Contributing writer

Common loons swallow old lead pellets while searching for small stones they use to aid digestion.

A ban on lead used in fishing equipment — sinkers and jigs — is again being discussed at the MN Legislature.

Lead poisons any animal that ingests it. The impetus this year was discovery of dead trumpeter swans that were believed to have swallowed lost lead fishing gear while feeding.

Lead pellets, leftovers from the days when lead birdshot was legal for waterfowl hunting, also are a problem. Lead shot was banned nationwide in 1991. Lead remains on lake bottoms, however, and it never breaks down.

Loons swallow the old pellets while searching for small stones needed in their gizzards to aid digestion. Swans can ingest lead fishing tackle or shotgun pellets as they forage lake bottoms for food.

Eagles and other raptors eat deer killed but not found or guts left behind when a deer is field-dressed. They eat game birds that were killed or wounded but not recovered. All can contain fragments of lead.

I was curious about how lead causes injury to swans, loons, eagles and other raptors. My questions, addressed to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, were specific to eagles.

"Lead is one of the most frustrating things we treat here," said Dr. Victoria Hall, executive director of the center .

Over 85% of the eagles admitted to the center have a detectable level of lead in their bodies, she said. As many as 25 to 30% of those eagles will have a toxic lead level that kills them, she said.

It only takes a piece of lead the size of a grain of rice to kill a bird. There are several types of lead bullets. Some can break into dozens of fragments when entering a deer.

The fragments, sometimes too small to be seen, can penetrate as far as 18 inches from the path of the bullet, according to Minnesota DNR research. There is no known safe exposure level.

"We see eagles that come in with food still in their stomach, in excellent body condition, and the damage by lead to their nervous system is already too severe to save them, even when we try to treat them," Hall said.

The biology of this was explained by Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein , who is head clinical veterinarian at the Rap-tor Center.

"When birds eat lead, the soft metal enters the very acidic stomach where the metal dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream," she said.

The lead causes red blood cells to burst, making the bird anemic.

Lead damages the bird's nervous system, resulting in irreversible damage to the brain.

It causes permanent neurological damage. The bird will start to have seizures, appear extremely depressed, and be unable to walk or breathe normally; it will gasp.

The lead will travel to and damage the bird's kidneys and heart. Heart damage can be permanent, so even if clinic staff helps the bird through the toxicity, it will never have the endurance it needs to fly free again, Franzen-Klein said.

"If a bird comes in with a toxic lead level and is already showing severe outward signs of lead toxicity, then the most we can do is to humanely euthanize it," she said.

How long does it take an eagle with lead in its system, unfound and untreated, to die in the wild?

"It can be a period of hours to a day or two," Franzen-Klein said.

A very small lead fragment can produce symptoms within hours.

If exposed to a smaller amount of lead, it could take days or weeks for the bird to die, Franzen-Klein said.

"Eagles exposed to very high doses of lead often don't stand a chance of successful treatment no matter what we try; the damage is fast and permanent.

"For lower doses of lead, if the bird is found within a few hours or a day or two of exposure, we might stand a chance of saving them," Franzen-Klein said.

"Eagles are more sensitive to lead toxicity than swans and some other species," she said.

Swans are sometimes able to recover from a blood lead level that will kill an eagle. Treatment is slightly different for each of these species.

From 2010 to 2020, the Raptor Center admitted 202 eagles where lead was one of the health issues. When lead was the only issue, 24 birds recovered, and were released to the wild.

Because of similar problems with condors, California banned all lead ammunition in 1993. Use of lead ammunition in federal wildlife refuges was banned during the Obama administration. That ban was overturned by the Trump administration.

The only restriction on lead ammunition in effect here is the federal law pertaining to waterfowl. Minnesota has no regulations on use of lead for hunting other animals. There are no rules regarding lead used in fishing.

There are nontoxic substitutes in all cases. Use is voluntary.

Lifelong birder Jim Williams can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Webinar: Non-native Invasive Earthworms 101: From the Nightcrawler to the Jumping Worm

Topic :Non-native Invasive Earthworms 101: From the Nightcrawler to the Jumping Worm

When:Mar 17, 2021 01:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

Presented by Ryan Hueffmeier, Director of the Boulder Lake ELC at the University of Minnesota

Abstract: Through this presentation we will discuss what makes most earthworms invasive species in North America. We will start the discussion with European earthworms (Nightcrawlers are an example) and how they got here, what their impacts are and what we can do. We will then move to Asian earthworms (Jumping worms are an example) the latest invasive worm to arrive in the region. Found in garden beds, mulch and compost piles they represent a threat to the health of our managed and wild landscapes. We will learn how to identify the differences between the two groups and how you can participate in documenting them across the landscape.

Speaker Bio: Ryan Hueffmeier is a research, outreach, and education specialist with active projects in forest and landscape ecology and invasive species. He is the Program Director at Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center in Duluth, MN (, which runs programs for over 4,000 people and has over 10,500 visitors annually. He works towards the transfer of scientific knowledge from evidence-based research to the public through creating accessible outreach programs; by delivering experiential based educational opportunities; and incorporating volunteer based public participatory projects. He works with diverse audiences such as teacher and natural resource professional development, preK-12 and the general public. For the past decade Ryan has been part of the Great Lakes Worm Watch ( and Jumping worm ( programs and has developed local projects looking at vernal pools, bird populations, invasive species and tree survival.

Register here.

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Winton Hydroelectric Project Annual Meeting

Winton Hydroelectric Project

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission License Settlement Agreement

On October 28, 2020 Minnesota Power hosted the annual meeting of the parties to the Winton Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) License Settlement Agreement, including Minnesota Power, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, U.S. Forest Service, White Iron Chain of Lakes Association (WICOLA), and Conservationists with Common Sense. The purpose of the annual meeting is to discuss the hydroelectric project operations and ensure compliance with the FERC License and associated Settlement Agreement.

Each year Minnesota Power contributes money to the funds held and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Minnesota DNR to be used for biological, recreation, and erosion projects. Those agencies reported the following contributions for 2020:

· WICOLA received $2,000 from the Biological fund for water monitoring.

· The US Forest Service received $51,850 from the Recreation Fund for two new accessible outhouses at Birch Lake Campground and material and supplies for the South Kawishiwi Pavilion.

In addition to discussing the Settlement Agreement, the parties are also able to share information about recreation, historic properties, erosion, biological, and water quality projects in the area. Below are a few of the topics discussed:

· The National Park Service and the North Country Trail Association are considering routing the North Country Trail through the Winton area.

· Thin Ice signs were placed in 2020 and will be up again in 2021 for the snowmobile trail on White Iron Lake. St. Louis County Search and Rescue did some training there.

· Minnesota DNR reported that White Iron Lake had average walleye counts and some big northern pike. Birch Lake Reservoir had high walleye numbers but smaller in size. Cisco numbers were good. The reports will be published on the Minnesota DNR Lakefinder website.

Minnesota Power provided graphs of the 2020 water levels and discharges. Birch Lake Reservoir fell below the allowable operating band in September due to drought conditions. The group discussed the elevation of White Iron Lake which is not directly regulated by Minnesota Power. Some people commented that White Iron Lake was lower than normal in the late summer and fall. MN Power explained that this was in part due to the lower flow in the system because of the drought and that Garden Lake Reservoir is slowly drawn down from mid-June to mid-September each year. Birch Lake Reservoir returned to within the allowable operating band by November 10, 2020. The graphs below show the planned and actual lake elevations for Birch, Garden and White Iron Lakes during 2020. See for more information on water levels and discharges. 

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Webinar on Microplastics in Minnesota’s Inland Waters on January 21, 2021

Upcoming Webinar: Small Synthetics II - An update on a Study of Microplastics in Minnesota's Inland Waters, including White Iron Lake

Where: Comfort of own home, via Zoom

When: Thursday, January 21st from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Registration is required:

Presentation Summary: This webinar is the second in a series about microplastics research in Minnesota lakes. Dr. Kathryn Schreiner and master's candidate Peter Conowall will provide a research update on the project.

Microplastics are very small plastic particles, less than 5 millimeters (or 1/20th of an inch) in size. They come from common items such as degraded plastic bags, synthetic clothes and textiles, and some hygiene products. They are found across terrestrial, aquatic, and marine environments worldwide. These particles are speculated to negatively impact the aquatic environments and ecosystems; however, it is not known with certainty where these particles are in aquatic environments. Research is currently being done to learn how much and what kinds of microplastics are found in four Minnesota sentinel lakes: Peltier, Elk, White Iron, and Ten Mile. Additionally, the research project is designed to engage community members in part of the research process and communicate about microplastics and project results. So far, plastics have been found in the waters and on the bottom of the lake in the sediment of all four study lakes. In the fall of 2020, researchers will begin dissecting two types of fish to see if there are any plastics in their guts: 1) filter feeders (cisco) and 2) visual feeders (bluegill and perch). Fish will be collected by the research team and also by community members who are interested in collaborating on the project. Anglers can submit fish stomachs throughout the year for research staff to dissect and analyze for any microplastic consumption. More details, including how to join our citizen scientist team, can be found on our project website:

More about the project: The Legislative Citizen-Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) funded the two year long microplastics project in 2019, and it concludes 2021. The microplastics project team is led by Dr. Kathryn Schreiner, a researcher from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), and comprises additional researchers from UMD, the Sentinel Lakes program coordinator from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and an extension staff from Minnesota Sea Grant. Questions about the project can be directed to: Dr. Kathryn Schreiner, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Questions about outreach can be directed to Marte Kitson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Did you miss the first webinar? You can find a link by visiting and clicking on the "Small Synthetics" link on the web page.

Can't make it? No problem. The presentation will be recorded and available at 

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Results of the 2020 Watercraft Inspections on the White Iron Chain of Lakes

Results of the 2020 Watercraft Inspections on the White Iron Chain of Lakes

  • Throughout 2020, North St. Louis and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) conducted watercraft inspections at various public landings on the White Iron Chain of Lakes, and lakes that drain into or "feed" White Iron Chain of Lakes. Inspectors checked boats for attached organic matter and water and educated public access users of the risk Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose to our lakes and how to help prevent their spread.
  • Fall, Birch-South, Farm, and White Iron-North boat landings were the busier places on the Chain of Lakes and feeder lakes.
  • 0 to 2.6% of the boats inspected at Chain of Lakes and feeder lakes boat landings had plants or animal species attached. About 4-6% of the boats inspected at Kawishiwi River campground, Moose Lake, and northeast Bear Island boat ramps had plants or animal species attached.
  • Due to COVID-19, inspector trainings were moved to an online platform rather than in-person. This reduced the funds needed for training, and therefore North St. Louis SWCD was able to allocate an additional 100+ inspector hours to better cover the Birch-South boat ramp which was particularly busy. In total, between North St. Louis and Lake County SWCDs, 777 inspector hours were worked on White Iron Chain of Lakes, and 256 inspector hours were worked on feeder lakes.
  • Although traffic was low on the smaller lakes, inspectors found people on those lakes move from one lake to another lake more often than those who visit bigger lakes in the region. Lake hopping raises the risk of lakes acquiring a new infestation.
  • In June, North St. Louis County SWCD was able to acquire Decon Goal signs and these helped encourage complete decontaminations and helped visualize the social norm of receiving a decontamination. Decontaminations use hot water to kill attached AIS, and flush out water from live wells, so that a watercraft can enter a waterbody without introducing a new infestation.
  • White Iron Chain of Lake Association is working hard to maintain water quality and healthy lake ecosystems by preventing the spread of AIS.
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4TH BINATIONAL LAKE ASSOCIATION EVENT, November 24, 2020 9:00 to 12:00

You are invited to join the


TUESDAY NOVEMBER 24, 2020 from

9:00AM to 12:00PM (VIRTUAL)


The Lake of the Woods Sustainability Foundation is coordinating a virtual gathering of the more than 40 lake associations in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed.  There is great value in gathering together to share successes and challenges, whether virtually or in person.  You will meet your watershed neighbors, discuss common issues and take home fresh, new ideas!

Featured speakers include:

  • Tiffany Sprague and Jesse Schomberg, Minnesota Sea Grant: Green Infrastructure for the Cottage: Rain Gardens, Buffers and More
  • Debra Japp and Jeff Bineham, St. Cloud State: Let’s Chat About Good Communication.  This session will be interactive. We want to make it as practical and relevant as possible for you, so we are inviting you to submit your questions ahead of time.  Think about your challenges communicating science to members, engaging your members in a program, or using the most effective communication tools.  What are your questions?  Send them to our team (via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and we will address them during this session.

Please register by November 19 by sending an email to Kelli Saunders, International Watershed Coordinator, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  An agenda and details to join will be provided closer to the date.  For more information, see

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Septic and Well Homeowner Education Class Thursday, November 5, 2020 from 6 to 8 pm.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota will present this Septic and Well Homeowner Education Class online. This free class will cover the basic functions of septic systems, well water testing, and how to protect your well from contamination sources. Attendees will receive valuable information on Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CEC) including the impact of drugs and chemicals on ground and surface water.

Homeowners will also receive information on maintaining their septic systems and wells.

Register here online (space is limited). After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This is a great opportunity to learn how to keep your septic system running properly and protect water quality.

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WICOLA President to present plans, priorities and water quality program to Ely Tuesday Group on Sept. 1st

Tuesday Group Zoom Meeting; 12 Noon to 1PM

Sept 1 - Jeff Pike, President of WICOLA - White Iron Chain of Lakes Association

Jeff plans to cover background on WICOLA, their priorities, and talk about the water quality program on the White Iron Chain.

To Join the Tuesday Group Meeting;  

The meeting ID is 896 3191 8520

Pass Code is 497 568

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Paul Schurke – The History of the White Iron Chain of Lakes

Paul Schurke is an Outdoor Educator, an Arctic Explorer, a Disability Rights Advocate, Environmental Advocate with Save the Boundary Waters, Proprietor of Wintergreen Dog Sledding Lodge, and a WICOLA Member.

The following History Notes of our area were collected by Paul Schurke.



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