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White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

Loon Watchers

Common Loons breed on quiet, remote freshwater lakes of the northern U.S. and Canada, and they are sensitive to human disturbance. In winter and during migration, look for them on lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastlines.

Want to learn more?

Do you ever wonder how and where loons spend the winter?

What migration patterns do they have?

Why the environment, habitat, and clean water are so important to loons?

How can you help loons in 2018?

You are welcome to attend a LOON WATCHER UPDATE

  • April 11, Wednesday, 7:00pm  @ VCC sponsored by Ely Field Naturalist
  • May 8, Tuesday, 12:00pm noon @ Grand Ely Lodge
  • May 15, Tuesday, 3:00pm @ Eveleth Library

If you are interested in these questions or have questions of your own or want to help fill out

MN DNR Loon Watcher Survey please attend.

You can pick any lake or lake area.

For more information on Loon Watchers, please contact;

Sherry Abts

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cell 678-787-6957


Kevin Woizeschke MN DNR 

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More information on the common loon can be found on the MN DNR website;


WICOLA Winter/Spring Rendezvous


WICOLA held its 3rd Winter/Spring Rendezvous on Saturday, April 7 at Veterans on the Lake. Thirty-seven members and guests attended to hear speakers Dan Schutte, owner of Shoreview Natives in Two Harbors and Derrick Passe, Project Manager with Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District. Dan spoke about the benefits of using native plants that serve as pollinators and increase bird and animal sightings that can educate our children to be future stewards of the land. Dan also emphasized that native planting’s help in erosion prevention and are a big benefit of less yard maintenance.

Derrick reminded us of the importance of shoreline management using native planting’s that not only benefit wildlife, but also help provide a buffer to protect our water quality. He also reminded the group of cost sharing opportunities where property owners can partner with SWCD to implement projects on their shoreline. Funds are available to offset much of the cost. Property owners can supply their own labor as matching contributions towards the grants. Derrick emphasized that this is a perfect opportunity for those who have turf grass at their shoreline and are interested in creating a buffer of native plantings for erosion control, habitat benefits, and maintaining good water quality in our lakes.


From mercury to manoomin, sulfate causes ecological ripples in Minnesota waters

Posted March 26, 2018 on The Quetico Superior Foundation website

Originally published by the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, the field station of the Science Museum of Minnesota.

A chemical called sulfate is causing a lot of conflict and confusion in Minnesota. This discharge from iron mines, wastewater treatment plants, and proposed copper mines is essentially harmless to humans, but causes a “biogeochemical cascade” when it increases in lakes and rivers.

One of those impacts is best-known and most-debated: harm to wild rice, or manoomin. The Research Station has been involved in recent studies seeking to explain the connections between sulfate, Minnesota’s state grain, and a multitude of other causes and effects.

Now, new peer-reviewed publications detail the wide-ranging ways sulfate changes lakes and streams.

“Put sulfate into our dilute northern Minnesota waters and you will get a different environment,” says Research Station director emeritus and senior scientist Dr. Dan Engstrom, who was central to the studies. “In many ways it’s a lot worse than putting road salt into a lake, because sulfate is much more reactive.”

While rising salt levels have raised concerns recently, and can have negative effects on water, sulfate sets off a serious chain reaction.

Canary in the copper mine?

It is an important time to understand the issue: A judge recently struck down a proposed new sulfate standard to protect wild rice, and the State is in the middle of a public comment period on permits for PolyMet, the first company seeking to operate a copper-nickel mine in Minnesota. The project has the potential for significant sulfate discharges into the St. Louis River headwaters.

Wild rice was described by the University of Minnesota researchers who the Research Station partnered with as a “canary in the coal mine” for stream health. If wild rice isn’t thriving, something is amiss.

Already, iron mining and other human land uses have eradicated wild rice from many lakes where it once grew.

The alarm sounded by vanishing manoomin can also alert us to other ways sulfate is at work. The chemical can lead to increases in nutrients, which might cause more algae and other plant growth in a waterbody. It can be converted to sulfide in bottom sediments, which is toxic to many aquatic plants in addition to wild rice. It can otherwise disrupt the water chemistry, changing almost everything about a lake. And it can create toxic mercury levels in fish that people like to catch and eat.

Making mercury more dangerous

“This isn’t just about wild rice,” lead author Dr. Amy Myrbo says. “We’ve now found that putting sulfate into our water has consequences down the line, including more mercury in fish, changes in habitat for ducks, and changes in the food chain.”

Sulfate most directly affects wildlife and human health by increasing the conversion of mercury to methylmercury, the most dangerous form of the toxic element. Mercury is linked to poor brain development in fetuses, as well as neurological problems like tremors, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, and cognitive and motor dysfunction.

Sulfate fuels a certain type of bacteria that live in low-oxygen bottom waters. Not only do these microbes “breathe” sulfate, but they also produce methylmercury as part of their unusual biology. This form of mercury easily works its way up the food chain, from plankton to game fish.

At every step, the concentration increases, until it reaches dangerous levels in top predators.

In one 10-year study in northern Minnesota, the researchers teased out complicated connections between sulfate, mercury, water, and weather. They measured how adding sulfate to a wetland caused a dramatic rise in methylmercury in the water, the peat, and aquatic insects.

Feeding fertility

Excess nutrients in water bodies is a problem more closely associated with southern Minnesota and other areas with intensive agriculture and other development in their watersheds. But sulfate can also make the relatively sterile lakes of northern Minnesota more fertile.

Most of these lakes have low levels of oxygen at the bottom. This means dead plants decompose slowly, storing carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients.

But sulfate can speed up decomposition, releasing the nutrients more quickly, and fertilizing the water. That changes what plants thrive there, and increases the occurrence of nuisance or harmful algae blooms.

As the climate continues to warm in the decades ahead, especially in northern Minnesota, increased plant growth is already expected. Adding more sulfate could multiply the effects in the region’s beloved lakes.

Root problem

A lot of the life in a lake grows from the bottom. Plants with roots in the sediments are critical to aquatic ecosystems, gathering sun from above, dissolved carbon from the water, and nutrients from the muck below.

That mud happens to be the same place where sulfate turns into sulfide, converting a relatively harmless compound to a poison toxic to most forms of life.

Sulfide is sort of the anti-oxygen. Organisms such as people and fish and most life forms depend on oxygen for critical chemical reactions that keep us alive. But in places where there is not much oxygen, other organisms use sulfide for similar purposes. Sulfide-dependent organisms don’t like oxygen, and oxygen-dependent organisms don’t like sulfide.

If the amount of sulfide in bottom sediments gets too high, almost all native plants suffer. They don’t grow, and they don’t reproduce.

Native plants like wild rice and other rooted aquatic vegetation have special strategies to fend off sulfide. They take oxygen from the water and pump it out through their roots to interfere in the chemical reaction that produces sulfide. But that defense can only go so far.

As sulfate levels rise in the water and cause increasing sulfide in the sediments, it overwhelms the plants. They are eventually replaced by a limited number of species that can tolerate sulfide-rich conditions.

Degrading biodiversity

Engstrom says he has seen for himself what a wetland with a lot of sulfate looks like. In studies on the Iron Range, he studied marshes where mining companies discharged wastewater.

The wetlands were a monoculture of cattails. In other related studies, scientists grew cultivated (white) rice in tanks and experimented with adding sulfate and other chemicals. When the ingredients were present to convert the sulfate to sulfide, the rice failed to thrive. The chemical is simply is not compatible with most aquatic vegetation.

Engstrom points to the implications of mineral exploration occurring upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with its fragile and unique ecosystem.

“We don’t know all the aquatic plants that are sensitive, but if you look at the diversity of lakes in the Boundary Waters, it’s a beautiful assemblage, including underwater,” he says. “Sulfate could knock a lot of those plants out.”

To view the original article with references go to;


5 things you should know about aquatic invasive species

Our water quality and supply is being degraded by aquatic "bullies."

MPR News host Chris Farrell recently spoke with Jeff Forester, executive director of the Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, Kelly Pennington, an aquatic invasive species prevention coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Jim Wherley, co-owner of Sunset Bay Resort.

Here are some key takeaways of their discussion, which took place at the third annual Aquatic Invaders Summit.

  1. One way to view aquatic invasive species is like bullies on a playground.
  2. One way aquatic invasive species get to our waterways is through ballast water from international vessels.
  3. Aquatic invaders can cause great economic harm, including to resort owners.
  4. Minnesotans can do lot to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species from one waterway to another.
  5. Controlling the spread of invasives matters to all of us.

To view the complete MPR article or listen to the entire conversation with audio player go to;

For additional information, resources, and links on AIS, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Aquatic Invasive Species”


AIS Panel Discussion on MPR April 2nd

 “Aquatic Invasive Species Special”

Marketplace’s Senior Economics Contributor, Chris Farrell, will host a panel discussion on aquatic invasive species – and whether they matter to people beyond those with lakefront property. The discussion will air on MPR News Presents on April 2 during the noon hour.

For additional information, resources, and links on AIS, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Aquatic Invasive Species”


WICOLA Spring Rendezvous, Saturday April 7th

The WICOLA Spring Rendezvous is on Saturday, April 7, Veterans on the Lake, 9:30-11:30 a.m. If you are in the area or within driving distance, please join us for coffee and donuts and a very engaging program. There is no pre-registration or cost for the event. We encourage you to bring friends and neighbors interested in joining WICOLA.

Our program speakers are Dan Schutte, owner of Shoreview Natives in Two Harbors and Lake Co. SWCD staff, including Derrick Passe, Project Coordinator. Dan and Lake Co. SWCD are excited to talk with you as property owners about the benefits of native plantings and tree plantings infiltration areas.

Have you renewed your 2018 WICOLA membership? If not, we hope that you will continue to be part of our active lake association and help us accomplish our many priorities for 2018. If you have already submitted your membership, thank you.


Shoreline Management

Manicured lawns up to your property line may look nice in the city along a city street or sidewalk. Up at the lake, however, keeping native plants and unmowed buffers to the lake can have measurable benefits to the lake. The shade alone can provide cool water for fish spawning. Native plants have evolved to thrive in this climate and can reduce the need for fertilizer. Wildlife can use the vegetation for nests and concealment. Geese (often a nuisance) will avoid shorelines with a natural buffer since it could conceal predators. One of the greatest time savings of a native landscape is that it doesn’t require weekly mowing like a home in a city. Just think of all the time that you can save (not to mention noise and air pollution) by leaving the lawnmower in the city.

Do you have turf grass at your shoreline and interested in creating a buffer of native plantings? Lake Co. SWCD is eager to share their knowledge, and they have funding to partner with property owners to implement projects on their shoreline. If interested, contact Derrick Passe or the WICOLA Board. We are especially interested in having a site identified ASAP to provide members with a hands on opportunity with native plantings in May.

Derrick Passe; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WICOLA Board; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


WICOLA Receives Wilson Stewardship Award

We are very pleased to inform WICOLA Membership that the White Iron Chain of Lakes Association has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Wilson Stewardship Award. The award was presented on March 7 as part of the 2018 International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum program.

The Wilson Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding achievements of individuals, groups, or projects that are making a significant contribution to environmental stewardship and sustainability of the Rainy-Lake of the Woods watershed ecosystem, through:

  • Education, outreach, civic engagement and participation in stewardship initiatives or program development.
  • Projects or programs focused on protection, restoration, preservation or reduction of environmental impact and development of sustainable practices.




This award is named in honor of its first recipient, Gerry Wilson, in recognition of her contributions to lake stewardship during her 16 years as the former Executive Director of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association. The selection committee for the Wilson Stewardship Award were unanimous in their recommendation that WICOLA’s contributions, over many years, epitomizes the values represented by the award.





The Award Committee noted, in particular, WICOLA’s contributions and roles in:

  • Initiating, coordinating, and maintaining a long-standing citizen-led water quality monitoring network on the White Iron Chain of Lakes, collecting water quality data that inform both residents and agencies
  • Developing and distributing a unique and innovative compact testing/educational materials to area outfitters so canoe parties can take part in water sampling
  • Initiating a review of existing area septic systems to identify areas of concern related to septic system condition and density
  • Becoming one of the most consistent “go-to” information sources for area residents and visitors on issues related to water quality, invasive species, and natural resources
  • Working with partner agencies and building trusting relationships that have allowed WICOLA to become recognized as a key player in furthering clean water goals in this watershed.

In addition to the contributions noted above, the committee was particularly appreciative of the significant effort WICOLA has made in contributing to the science knowledge in the headwaters and the tireless outreach to residents on water-related issues affecting the basin, including during the formation of the Rainy Basin Plan in the early 2000s.

Look for expanded coverage on the Wilson Stewardship Award in the WICOLA Spring Newsletter.


Ice Roads on WICOL

A Winter View from the White Iron Chain of Lakes…An Ice Road being plowed on White Iron.


Annual Tree Sales – County SWCD

Trees help reduce erosion, protect water quality, increase energy conservation, improve wildlife habitat and may increase the value of your property.

Each year both the St. Louis County and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District sells trees and shrubs, both conifers and deciduous types. Orders are taken beginning in January each year with tree pickup dates in May.

For more information on the Annual Tree Sales including Order Forms,

North St. Louis County


Lake County



Frequently Asked Tree Sale Questions

When do I need to plant the trees?
Ideally, as soon as you get them to your land. Realistically, plant within days. Much past a week after pickup is pushing it. The trees need to be tended to daily, so it will be easier on you and the trees if you can plant them quickly.

How do I store my trees until I plant them?

Find a cool, shaded spot of earth next to something you can lean the trees against. Set the roots directly on the ground, wrap the outside of the roots in burlap or an old bath towel, and water multiple times a day. Keep the roots and their wrapping wet, as you do not want the roots to dry out. Do not submerge roots in a bucket of water as they will drown. 

How big are the trees? Should I pick them up in a trailer?

No, most of the trees will easily fit in a car.  Look at the order form for the heights of the trees you are purchasing.  We wrap the roots in a bag so your car doesn't get dirty.

Can I order less than a bundle?

Unfortunately we can't break down the bundles. However, you might have a friend or neighbor that would like to split a bundle with you.

What if I can't pick up my trees on the assigned days?

Then you'll need to find someone to pick them up for you. We aren't able to care for the trees after the pickup day

Will the deer eat my trees?

If they're hungry enough, we've all seen what deer can do to any plant. If deer are a problem in your area, you can build simple cages or put fences up around your trees.


Nine smart salting tips that protect Minnesota waters

As the first major snows of the season arrive, Minnesotans are thinking about clearing snow and ice from pavement — sometimes with salt. We scatter an estimated 365,000 tons of salt in the metro area each year. But it only takes a teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recommends a low-salt diet for our lakes, streams, and rivers. Much like table salt, rock salt’s benefits are peppered with danger. Salt helps melt ice on roads and sidewalks and protects drivers and pedestrians. But when the snow melts, de-icing salt, which contains chloride, runs into nearby bodies of water and harms aquatic wildlife. Chloride accumulates in the water over time, and there’s no feasible way to treat or remove it.

A University of Minnesota study found that about 78% of salt applied in the Twin Cities for winter maintenance ends up either in groundwater or local lakes and wetlands. The MPCA has found that groundwater in the state’s urban areas often exceeds the state standards for chloride contamination. Forty-seven bodies of water in Minnesota have tested above the standard for chloride, 39 of which are in the Twin Cities metro area.

Though no environmentally safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives to salt are yet available, smart salting strategies can help reduce chloride pollution in state waters, while saving money and limiting salt damage to infrastructure, vehicles, and plants.

Do your part by following these simple tips:

  • Shovel. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it can be.
  • 15 degrees (F) is too cold for salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.
  • Slow down. Drive for the conditions and make sure to give plow drivers plenty of space to do their work. Consider purchasing winter (snow) tires.
  • Apply less. More salt does not mean more melting. Use less than four pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet. One pound of salt is approximately a heaping 12-ounce coffee mug. Leave about a three-inch space between granules. Consider purchasing a hand-held spreader to help you apply a consistent amount.
  • Sweep up extra. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away. Use this salt or sand somewhere else or throw it away.
  • Hire a certified Smart Salting contractor. Visit the MPCA web site for a list of winter maintenance professionals specifically trained in limiting salt use.
  • Watch a video. Produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, it offers tools for environmentally friendly snow and ice removal.
  • Act locally. Support local and state winter maintenance crews in their efforts to reduce their salt use.
  • Promote smart salting. Work together with local government, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofits to find ways to reduce salt use in your community.

Learn more on the MPCA's website.


The mission of the MPCA is to protect and improve the environment and enhance human health. • Toll-free and TDD 800-657-3864 


Draft 2018 Impaired Waters List open for public comment through Jan. 26

The MPCA recently announced the draft 2018 Impaired Waters List, which will be open for a formal public comment period November 27, 2017 – January 26, 2018. All written comments received during that period, and Agency responses, will be forwarded to EPA, along with the final draft TMDL List and accompanying documentation for their review and approval. The comment period will end at 4:30 pm CST on January 26, 2018. Please submit written comments to Miranda Nichols by this date by one of these methods:

  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Mail: Miranda Nichols, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Rd N, St Paul, MN 55155 (A return postal address must be included.)

Visit the MPCA’s Impaired Waters List website for more information on the documents open for public comment.


The mission of the MPCA is to protect and improve the environment and enhance human health. • Toll-free and TDD 800-657-3864


Lake Ice Observations 11/10/2017

Several WICOLA Board members report Lake Ice Observations to the Minnesota DNR. Their observations will occasionally be posted here as a reverence to WICOLA members.

Remember, there really is no sure answer as to when Ice is safe. 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, currents, water chemistry, movement of fish, and the distribution of the load on the ice.

For more information on Ice Safety, follow this link to the Minnesota DNR website;


White Iron

The cold weather has arrived a bit earlier than in the last 2 years…Negative 7 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday November 10th. White Iron had gone from a little ice forming along the edges to completely frozen over.

As a point of reference, “Ice In” for White Iron;

2015 “Ice In” was November 29th

2016 “Ice In” was December 9th


Widespread ice has been reported on Garden Lake, including where the current is from the Kawishiwi River flow. The entire lake is now topped with a layer of new snow.


"Ice In" has been reported for Farm Lake.  The last Farm Lake “Ice In” in recent memory that was this early was on 11/08/14.


Public Invited to Rainy River, Vermilion Watershed Open Houses in Ely and Orr

The North Saint Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will host two public open house events regarding the Rainy River-Headwaters and Vermilion River watersheds.   These events will update the local public about the 2017 water quality monitoring season in both watersheds, and the recent assessment of the Rainy River-Headwaters lakes and streams.

According to the recently-released Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) water quality monitoring and assessment report, the Rainy River-Headwaters watershed features many streams with exceptionally high water quality. Work in the two watersheds has also identified a few waters not meeting water quality standards.  High levels of sediment and bacteria were found in portions of the Ash River drainage that flows to Kabetogama Lake and Voyageurs National Park.

In the upcoming open house events, an MPCA project manager will give a half-hour presentation about the recent work in the two watersheds at 5:00 PM. MPCA and SWCD staff will be available to talk with guests before or after the presentation. Informational stations will also be posted for people to browse at their leisure. Light refreshments will be provided.  The public is encouraged to attend these open house events in Ely and Orr.  All agencies involved rely on local knowledge and expertise in order to create the best plan for water health.

Orr - Monday, November 13th 4:30-6:30PM Oveson’s Pelican Lake Resort – Bayview Board Room, 4675 US Hwy 53, Orr, MN 55771

Ely - Thursday, November 16th 4:30-6:30PM Vermilion Community College – Room NS111, 1900 E. Camp St. Ely, MN 55731

For more information, please contact North St. Louis SWCD, Phil Norvitch, Resource Conservationist at 218-471-7287 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), tribal, state, and local partners employ a watershed approach to restore and protect Minnesota's rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The Minnesota Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment provides funding to accelerate efforts to monitor, assess, and restore impaired waters, and to protect unimpaired waters. Each of Minnesota’s 80 major watersheds are assessed on a rotating 10-year cycle.

During the 10-year cycle, the MPCA and its partner organizations conduct intensive water quality monitoring on each of the state's major watersheds to evaluate water conditions, establish priorities and goals for improvement, and take actions designed to restore or protect water quality. When a watershed's 10-year cycle is completed, a new cycle begins.

The primary feature of the watershed approach is that it focuses on the watershed's condition as the starting point for water quality assessment, planning, implementation, and measurement of results.

These initial water quality assessments for the Rainy River Headwaters and Vermilion River Watersheds began during the open water seasons of 2014 and 2015, respectively. This summer, MPCA, DNR, and SWCD staff continued monitoring the watersheds focusing on pollutant stressor identification.  The stressor identification process will help guide local units of government, community groups, private landowners, and other stakeholders towards conservation projects and practices that could be implemented to help improve the water quality of the watersheds.


MPCA Public Meetings on 2018 Draft Impaired Waters List

The MPCA will hold informational meetings on the draft 2018 impaired waters list, including the delistings and impairments proposed. Meetings will be held in regions where water has been assessed in the past two years and produced data that contributed to the 2018 list.

Meetings focused on the northeastern Minnesota region are scheduled for Thursday, November 9, 9:30 a.m.

  • Blandin Foundation, 100 North Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids, MN 55744
  • Vermilion Community College – Fine Arts Building Room 105, 1900 E. Camp St. Ely, MN 55731
  • Oveson’s Pelican Lake Resort – Board Room, 4675 US Hwy 53, Orr, MN 55771
  • WebEx online meeting, Join by phone for audio: 1-844-302-0362
  • Meeting number (access code): 597 969 123, Meeting password: Peexuwj3

See the MPCA news release for additional information:



In all, the number of impaired Minnesota waters on the draft 2018 impaired waters list totals 5,101 impairments, with 618 new listings, covering a total of 2,669 water bodies across the state (many water bodies are impaired by several pollutants). Minnesota is detecting more waters in trouble because of its 10-year plan to study all 80 major watersheds in the state, funded by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. The MPCA has started this study in all but a few watersheds.

While scientists find more impairments, the overall percentage of impaired waters in Minnesota remains at 40%. The other 60% are in good condition and need protective strategies to stay healthy.


Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program



On September 22nd, WICOL volunteers learned new procedures to monitor for evidence of Spiny Waterflea in the White Iron Chain of Lakes.

The new monitoring will officially begin when the waters open up in 2018. The monitoring teams will test our waters EVERY 2 Weeks from May thru October. The procedures are extensive and require 10 drops of the net at 10 different locations, measuring how deep each drop of the net, for each lake monitored.

What is the purpose behind implementing this new Spiny Waterflea monitoring program? Lakes around our chain have Spiny Waterflea.  While there is no known way to eradicate, we want to monitor to assure they are NOT in our lake.

Remember, it might be that what you do not see may infect the waters. Make sure you CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY before launching your boat into the White Iron Chain of Lakes and that you decontaminate your boat each and every time when moving from area lake-to-lake. We need your help to insure that the waters of this chain of lakes remains clean and pure forever.

The methods for preventing the spread of AIS are simple and do not take much time. These invasive plants and animals “hitch a ride” on our boats, trailers, jet skis, fishing gear, and other recreational gear. Anglers, boaters, and other watercraft users MUST TAKE ACTION to prevent the spread of invasive species into the White Iron Chain. Cleaning your equipment properly is the best preventative measure for stopping the spread of AIS.

The simple solution is: CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY all watercraft and equipment every time before transporting.

  • CLEAN watercraft, trailer, motor and equipment. REMOVE ALL visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other animals and mud before leaving any water access.
  • DRAIN water from the boat, bilge, motor, and livewell by removing the drain plug and opening all water draining devices away from the boat ramp.
  • DRY everything at least 5 days before going to other waters, or SPRAY / RINSE your equipment with high pressure and/or hot water (120oF/50oC or higher)

Minnesota state law requires such preventive measures.

For additional information, resources, and links on AIS, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Aquatic Invasive Species”.

Spread the word, not the species!


Check for invasive species when removing docks and lifts

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding lake property owners to carefully check boats and trailers, docks and lifts, and all other water-related equipment for invasive species when closing cabins for winter. Several recent new zebra mussel confirmations were initially reported by people making end of season inspections of docks, boats and boat lifts.

“These recent confirmations serve as a reminder of the importance of carefully examining all equipment when taking it out of the water,” says the Minnesota DNR. “A few simple steps now can help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.”

The DNR recommends these steps for lake property owners:

  • When removing docks, lifts, or other water-related equipment from lakes and rivers, carefully inspect everything to make sure there are no aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as Zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, or New Zealand mud snails.
  • Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.
  • Hire DNR-permitted lake service provider businesses to install or remove boats, docks, lifts and other water-related equipment. These businesses have attended training on Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species laws and many have experience identifying and removing invasive species.
  • If you plan to move a dock, lift or other water equipment from one lake or river to another, all visible zebra mussels, faucet snails, and aquatic plants must be removed whether they are dead or alive. You may not transport equipment with prohibited invasive species or aquatic plants attached. The equipment must be out of the water for 21 days before it can be placed in another waterbody
  • Contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist or WICOLA This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you think you have discovered an invasive species that has not already been confirmed in our chain of lakes. You can also report new AIS sightings by calling the MN DNR at 888-646-6367 or 651-259-5100.

For additional information, resources, and links on AIS, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Aquatic Invasive Species”.

For additional information on Aquatic Invasive Species including how to identify, go to:


Lake groups give millions in time and money

Minnesota study is first to measure citizens’ impact on preservation efforts.

By JOHN REINAN Minneapolis Star Tribune 10/3/17

Minnesota’s private lake associations contribute more than $6.2 million and 1.2 million volunteer hours each year to preserving the quality of the state’s signature natural resource, according to a study released Monday.

Concordia College in Moor-head conducted the study over the summer on behalf of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates. The authors said they believe it’s the first study to measure the preservation efforts of the more than 500 private lake associations in the state.

Lake association members “are there at the lake, every day, all year long,” said co-author Michelle Marko, a Concordia biology professor and co-director of the college’s environmental studies program. “They have a lot of knowledge and they’re providing a great resource, both in their financial contributions and their volunteer work.

“There are over 12,000 lakes in Minnesota. Managing them is a very complex task,” Marko said. “We have many agencies working on that — local governments as well as state organizations and even federal. To manage each of those 12,000 lakes is a lot of work and no one person or organization can be everywhere at one time.”

The study was based on a survey of members from 186 lake associations, along with interviews and field visits.

The most common concerns cited by members were aquatic invasive species, overall water control and runoff policy.

Respondents also expressed a desire to work more closely with the state Department of Natural Resources and expressed concern over the aging population of lake property owners.

The report concludes that “Minnesota’s lake associations play a crucial role in protecting and managing Minnesota’s lakes.”

It recommends “more communication and collaboration between policymakers and lake associations.”

To view the Concordia College - Moorehead complete in-depth study see the link below;


Water Quality & Shoreline Management

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was in Ely, on the edge of the some of the state's most pristine waters, on Tuesday September 13th for one of ten Water Quality Town Hall meetings held across the state in recent weeks.

At the event, Dan Schutte, district manager of the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, encouraged people to protect what they have and not take clean water or granted. He especially urged people to maintain healthy, native vegetation near waterways, saying denuded shoreline is among the most pressing reasons waters become degraded.

Schutte also urged forest management that focuses on protecting watersheds, saying active forest management is needed to maintain nature's filter system. He noted invasive buckthorn has moved to within a few miles of the BWCAW, threatening the forest ecosystem of the lake-studded wilderness and the water quality of the wilderness lakes.

"What you see in the water is a direct reflection of what's going on the land," Schutte said.

Your shoreline is part of a larger community and ecosystem. Individual choices by many have cumulative impacts on a lake and its ecosystem. Your actions can restore or degrade the quality of the ecosystem. Restoring or improving your lakeshore to a more natural condition is important, even if your neighbors are not restoring theirs, because it can help wildlife habitat, water quality, and fish.

For a list of Native Plants for your shoreline and property, visit;

For additional information, resources, and links on Shoreline Management, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Shoreline Management”.


WICOLA at the Harvest Moon Festival

Attending the Harvest Moon Festival this week? Come by the WICOLA Booth (#90) to visit, check out the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) materials. WICOLA members and representatives from partner organizations will be at the booth to answer questions, to provide updates on AIS in Northern MN and to share AIS prevention information.

Harvest Moon Festival Hours at Whiteside Park in Ely.

Friday, September 8 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, September 9 – 10:00am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, September 10 – 10:00am – 3:00 pm

No Charge for Admission into the Festival