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White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

Lake Co. Board of Commissioners Meeting at Fall Lake Township

The Lake County Board of Commissioners will meet as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. at the Town of Fall Lake Town Hall, 393 Kawishiwi Trail, Fall Lake, Minnesota. The public is invited to attend. This meeting usually includes time for Q&A.


Forest Service 'deeply concerned' about Twin Metals project; Mining lease renewal to get public input

U.S. Forest Service officials just announced that they are "deeply concerned" about potential impacts of the proposed Twin Metals copper mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and announced a public comment period before the agency's decision on extending mining leases for the project.

The Forest Service will start a 30 day public input period beginning on June 20th, on the request by Twin Metals to renew old leases on federal land under which the company hopes to mine copper, nickel and other metals.

Public comments on the mining lease extension can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to the Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808.

The Forest Service will also hold a public hearing in Duluth on July 13th. The public hearing, called a listening session, will be held July 13 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will be live-streamed on the internet.

In announcing the public input process, Forest Service officials said they have not made a decision on the leases but said they are considering withholding their support.

It's the strongest statement yet by a regulatory agency on the proposed project.

"... the Forest Service is deeply concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations within that watershed. Those risks exist during all phases of mine development, implementation and long-term closure and remediation. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage, and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures and waste rock treatment locations," the agency noted. "Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal."

The leases were first issued 50 years ago to predecessor companies and have been purchased by Twin Metals as the company hones in on the most lucrative spot to dig. The leases are under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management which has formally asked the Forest Service to give its consent — in effect to recommend whether renewing the leases is good for the Superior National Forest where they are located. The leases held by Twin Metals were issued before most environmental regulations existed, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the law that requires environmental impacts to be considered before decisions are made on where mines can be sited.


Visit the WICOLA Booth at the Great American Canoe Festival

You are invited to visit the WICOLA Booth at the Great American Canoe Festival. WICOLA will have a booth (#9) at the Great American Canoe Fest on June 10-12 at Semers Park. Although our focus will be on the prevention of aquatic invasive species (AIS), we will also share information about our water monitoring on the Chain and surrounding areas.

Additional information on the Great American Canoe Festival and events at Semers Park as well as at various venues in Ely during the festival can be found at

So be sure to come check out the festivities at Semers Park, Admission is FREE, and see what is happening in the WICOLA Booth.


2016 Firewise Demonstration Days

Want to learn the steps you can take to protect your home and neighborhood against wildfire? Come join the Firewise Team for FREE Hands-On Firewise Demonstrations and discuss how all of us living in close proximity to the Boundary Waters can best prepare for a wildfire.

This is an opportunity to learn about ways to reduce the risk to your home by implementing wildfire prevention strategies.

Event Details


Jeffery Jackson

NE Region Firewise Specialist, Minnesota

Department of Natural resources

When & Where:

Deer Ridge Demo Days

Sunday, June 12th, 2:00 to 4:00 PM

1247 Wolf Den Dr. (Spur road off of Deer Ridge)

White Iron Demo Days

Friday, June 17th, 2:00 to 4:00 PM

1233 South White Iron Road

Contact Information

Gloria Erickson, FAC Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (218)-365-0878


Help monitor lakes in the BWCAW!

By the Minnesota MPCA

We need you! Since lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) are so difficult to access, they are rarely sampled by the MPCA or our local partners. Volunteer water monitors collect some for the only water quality data available on Boundary Waters lakes. Our goal is to have visitors to the BWCAW collect water clarity data on the lakes that they paddle through on their trips.

Monitoring procedure

Monitoring is easy and convenient for BWCAW travelers! Volunteers are provided with a monitoring kit which contains a lightweight Secchi disk with a calibrated rope, waterproof cards for data collection, a laminated instruction sheet and a pencil.

Monitoring water clarity in the BWCAW is fun too! Before entering a lake, volunteers collect several stones to weight the disk so it will sink. The stones are placed in a "pouch" connected to the disk (full-weight metal disks are also available if weight is not a concern for you). Volunteers paddle to the deepest part of the lake or to the middle of the lake to take a transparency reading with the Secchi disk. Volunteers lower the disk into the water until it is no longer visible, note that depth from the calibrated rope, then lower it further, raise the disk until it is just visible again for a second depth reading. The two depth readings are averaged and the final number is recorded on one of the data cards, along with a drawing of the approximate monitoring location. This procedure is repeated for each lake along the volunteers' route.

Upon return home, the volunteers return the entire kit (including the data cards) to us in a postage-paid padded envelope provided by the MPCA. Returning the kit as soon as possible is essential to the success of this program as we have only a limited number of disks to be shared between many interested volunteers.

Become a BWCAW Volunteer!

If you'd like to help monitor BWCAW lakes, contact the Citizen Lakes Monitoring Program Coordinator at 800-657-3864 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You will be asked to provide the dates of your trip, the number of lakes you expect to be on, and when you'll be able to send the kit back for the next person to use.

Thank you very much for your interest in helping us gather needed information on these little sampled lakes. We appreciate your commitment to Minnesota's natural resources, and look forward to working with you soon!


Mandatory training required for aquatic invasive species violators

By the Minnesota DNR

Starting this boating season, anyone found guilty of violating Minnesota's aquatic invasive species laws will not only have to pay the required fines but will also have to complete mandatory training. The short "Clean In Clean Out" training must be completed before people found guilty of violating Minnesota's aquatic invasive species laws can legally operate their watercraft anywhere in the state.

"The class is free and easy to take either online or with a paper home-study," said April Rust, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invasive species training coordinator. "Anyone interested in learning more about how to protect Minnesota waters from invasive species can also take the free online class."

The "Clean In Clean Out" training is available at

"Minnesotans overall are doing the right things, and the rate of compliance with aquatic invasive species laws is increasing every year," said Maj. Todd Kanieski, DNR Enforcement operations manager. "The few individuals who violate these laws are the highest risk factor for infesting a lake or river. We want to not only help people avoid a citation but, more importantly, keep 95 percent of Minnesota's lakes off the infested waters list."

Boaters and anglers can comply with Minnesota's invasive species laws by remembering Clean, Drain, Dispose:

  • Clean aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species from watercraft,
  • Drain lake or river water from all equipment and keep drain plugs out during transport, and
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.

Lake property owners are reminded that docks and lifts must be cleaned and allowed to dry for at least 21 days before moving them to another body of water.

More information about aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread is at


USFS Prescribed Burn on White Iron – 5/5/16 Update

WICOLA has received the following update from the Forest Service on the White Iron burn:

The USFS announced that it does not look like they will burn the Ring Rock Road unit anytime soon. The USFS needed the wind we had yesterday to keep the heat moving out of the canopy, but we also need the foliar leave moisture (water in the pine needles) to be high enough to protect them from heat. Yesterday, we had the winds, but leaf (or needle) moisture was dropping and so they decided not to burn. "With the heavy slash on the unit, we know we will produce a lot of heat so we want the pines to be as resilient as they can be".

The USFS states that they will re-examine the prescription of the burn and probably shoot for another window later this summer and fall. They will again send out a notification before they plan to burn. The USFS said they will work to balance giving adequate time to plan. The prescription windows are relatively tight, so it is difficult to meet all the parameters at once.

The purpose of the prescribed burn is fuel reduction and ecosystem management.The burns help clean up crushed balsam and brush and create fire resistant forest stands that can reduce the intensity of future landscape wildfires.In addition, balsam and brush shade out pine seedlings and balsam is a ladder fuel.Fire will clear the debris and allow pine seedlings better access to mineral soil.


USFS Prescribed Burn on White Iron – 5/3/16 Update

WICOLA has received the following update from the Forest Service on the White Iron burn:

The Forest Service is NOT doing the White Iron Burn today. Fire Managers are considering the possibility for tomorrow. No decision has been made yet.

Below is the map of the area for the planned burn.
Please contact the USFS if you have any questions or need more information.

​Rebecca Manlove

Information Assistant

Forest Service Superior National Forest

Kawishiwi Ranger District

p: 218-365-2093

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

1393 Highway 169 Ely, MN 55731


USFS Prescribed Burn on White Iron Lake

​The USFS is planning a Prescribed Burn on White Iron Lake this week. Below is a map of the area and a message from District Ranger Gus Smith discussing the planned burn. Please contact the USFS if you have any questions or need more information.


Need Information on Lake Water Levels?

To stay informed about the current water level elevations, flow, and conditions, please check the Minnesota Power webpage at;

And the USGS stream flow report covering the inflow to Birch Lake Reservoir at;,00060

What to look for on the Minnesota Power Webpage

The Kawishiwi River Basin Chart includes the current Lake and Lake Reservoir Elevations for Birch, White Iron and Garden Lakes. The Chart also includes the Current Flow from the Birch Lake Reservoir into White Iron and the Flow from Garden to Fall Lake at Kawishiwi Falls.

The Garden Lake and Birch Lake Operating Band Charts can also be found on this page on the lower left corner under the title Kawishiwi River Basin Information. These charts graph the "Target" lake elevations as well as the "Upper" and "Lower" Operating Bands. These charts can be used along with the "Current Elevations Data" to help you determine where water levels are forecasted to be and how that might affect your shoreline and dock positioning.


Personal responsibility key to preventing aquatic invasive species spread

By the Minnesota DNR

With boating and fishing season almost here, the Department of Natural Resources is issuing a reminder that preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species is everyone's personal responsibility.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr is encouraging boaters and anglers to continue to do their part to keep 95 percent of Minnesota lakes off the infested waters list. Gov. Mark Dayton declared Water Action Week to get citizens more engaged on water issues.

"Minnesotans are doing the right things to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, and that is making a big difference in protecting our lakes and rivers," Landwehr said. "This is an ongoing effort, and we need all boaters and anglers to take personal responsibility and do their part."

While some Minnesotans think aquatic invasive species are "out of control" or are "everywhere" in the state, the reality is quite different. Less than 2 percent of Minnesota lakes are listed as infested with zebra mussels, and only about 5 percent are listed as having any type of invasive species.

Compliance with Minnesota's aquatic invasive species laws is increasing substantially every year, which helps protect the vast majority of Minnesota lakes that aren't infested. Roadside checks conducted by DNR conservation officers and inspectors show compliance rates of 77 percent in 2013, 83 percent in 2014, and 86 percent in 2015. Those who don't comply face citations, fines, and the possibility of infesting a lake or river.

Landwehr said it's vital for boaters and anglers to maintain their vigilance by following Minnesota's aquatic invasive species laws:

Clean aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species from watercraft.

Drain lake or river water from all equipment and keep drain plugs out during transport.

Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.

Lake property owners are reminded that docks and lifts must be allowed to dry for at least 21 days and clean before moving them to another body of water. More information about aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread is on the DNR website at


DNR – State Launches PolyMet Permitting Portal

By the Minnesota DNR

The State has launched a web portal dedicated to Minnesota's permitting process for PolyMet's proposed NorthMet mining project at This project is very complex and it would need permits from several state agencies in order to proceed. The web portal provides basic permitting information and directs users to agency websites with more detail.

If you would like to receive updates on the permitting processes you must take action: Go to and sign up with your email address.

If you have been receiving updates on the PolyMet environmental review process please note you will no longer receive updates from that list. You must sign up again at in order to receive future information on PolyMet permitting.



​ The Ely Area Invasives Team      Dedicated to preventing the spread of Invasive Species to and from the Ely Area.

The Ely Area Invasives Team is a local group that is organizing to bring together technical knowledge and public awareness in an effort to prevent the spread, manage the impacts and mitigate the effects of invasive species. Current partners in this effort include the Ely Field Naturalists, Burntside, White Iron Chain, Eagles Nest and Vermilion Lake Associations, Shagawa Lake Marina, Ely Community Resource, Lake and St. Louis County SWCDs, and the 1854 Treaty Authority.

As an Ely conservation officer stated recently, " will come down to resort/lakeshore owners policing their customers and visitors (friends/relatives) that are coming in from other areas. No equipment should go un-checked from other areas! "It will take diligent efforts from all of us to stop the spread of AIS in our lakes.

You are invited to join the Ely Area Invasives Team, a group interested in keeping our lands and lakes free from Invasives. We meet at the Ely Folk School on the third Thursday of every month at 11:00 am to share information, efforts and stories. We also have an email group set up to communicate timely information. You can request access at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Governor, Lt. Governor Call on Minnesotans to Take Water Action

During Water Action Week, Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are urging Minnesotans to take four simple actions – individual efforts to collectively improve the quality of Minnesota's waters.

1. Learn About Your Water Quality – Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are encouraging all Minnesotans to learn more about the water around them, including the challenges facing our lakes, rivers, and clean drinking water systems, and the actions they can take as individuals to make a difference – because Minnesotans who understand the problems facing our waters will be better-equipped and motivated to be part of the solution. This week, the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor has launched a one-stop web page that provides a number of helpful links Minnesotans can use to learn more about water challenges in Minnesota. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are also encouraging Minnesotans to do their own research, to test the water in their wells, and to learn more locally about the water infrastructure and systems their families rely on.

2. Teach Your Children about Clean Water, and Let Them Teach You – Establishing an ethic of responsible stewardship needs to start early. That is why Governor Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will be visiting an elementary classroom this week, to meet with students who are learning in school what they can do to protect and improve the quality of water in their communities. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith urge all Minnesota parents and teachers to talk with their children and students this week about the importance of water in our lives, and what Minnesotans can do – even as children – to leave a lasting legacy of clean water for this generation, and generations that follow. A great place to start is where parents, teachers, and children can find simple lesson plans, watch short videos, and find new ways to make a positive impact on water quality in our communities, across our state, and around the world.

3. Set a Water Conservation Goal – Whether fixing leaky pipes in your house, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, taking a shorter shower, or using less fertilizer on your lawn, all Minnesotans can make small changes in their lives that will collectively have a significant and positive impact on Minnesota's waters. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith encourage Minnesotans this week to think about the way their lifestyles impact the water around them, and set a specific goal to make positive changes in their lives that will contribute to cleaner, safer, more affordable water for all Minnesotans.

4. Contact Your Legislators – While government alone cannot solve the multitude of challenges facing Minnesota's lakes, rivers, and drinking water systems, state and local leaders do play an important role. The actions of the State Legislature can, and must make a significant difference in assuring clean, affordable water for all Minnesotans. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith encourage Minnesotans to contact their legislators to encourage them to support needed investments. Minnesotans can find out how to contact their legislators by using the "Who Represents Me?" tool on the Legislative Coordinating Commission's website.


Lake “Ice Out” Observations from members; April 20th 2016

​It has been reported to the DNR; "Ice out on April 20, 2016".

Let's go fishing, boating and canoeing while enjoying and preserving these wonderful waters we call "The White Iron Chain of Lakes".


“Spring” Lake Ice Observations from members; April 18th 2016

White Iron Lake

There is still lots of open water at Silver Rapids, but some stubborn ice remains. On the western portion of White Iron, most of the ice is gone, but remains in some of the bays protected from wind and current. Tuesday's forecast is calling for sunny and pleasant with a high of 61. Ice could be out by end of day tomorrow.

Garden Lake

On Garden Lake there is a large swath of open water well beyond the influence of water flow from the Kawishiwi River. Ice remains in some bays with some open water close to the shore.


“Spring” Lake Ice Observations from members; April 15th 2016

White Iron Lake

There is lots of open water at Silver Rapids. On the other end of the lake there is also quite a bit of open water where the South Kawishiwi River enters White Iron and flows around Beargrease Island. There is also open water where the Bear Island River enters White Iron. Ice is now moving out from shore in many locations. With the warm weather and wind expect ice out in a few days.

White Iron Lake near the Bear Island River


“Spring” Lake Ice Observations from members; April 13th 2016

White Iron Lake

Although the ice is still frozen to the shore, the Silver Rapids area is very open. The current going through the Ring Rock narrows is eroding the ice despite the cold nights of last week. With the predicted warm weather over the next few days, ice out could come to White Iron within a week.


Water Monitoring Training

WICOLA volunteers report that they enjoy the water monitoring because it makes them feel more connected to the lakes. They get to explore the lakes and learn about them in more intimate detail. If you would like to join us for water monitoring, contact Chris Chandler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and join us for the training session at Vermilion Community College, Rm CL 122, on April 19 from 10-12.Enter your text here ...


DNR To Host Public Information Meeting – PolyMet

DNR to host public information meeting in advance of PolyMet permit application

DNR NEWS – March 17, 2016

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hosting a public information meeting on Tuesday, April 19, about PolyMet Mining, Inc.’s potential permit to mine application for its proposed NorthMet project. The meeting will be at Mesabi East High School, 601 North 1st St. W., Aurora, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public that PolyMet might submit a permit to mine application and to provide an overview of the permitting process. Under state rules, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Environmental Quality Board, St. Louis County and the cities of Babbitt, Aurora and Hoyt Lakes, which are near the proposed mine, have been invited to participate. The meeting is in Aurora to enable local government participation.

The meeting will include a formal presentation and an open house. The formal presentation, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will provide an overview of the proposed mining project and the permit to mine process. It will also include a brief summary of the other state permits that may be required for the project. State agency staff and PolyMet representatives will be available during the open house to answer questions about the permit to mine process and other permit processes, such as tailings dam safety, water quality, air quality, wetlands and others.

Project permit applications have not yet been submitted. Formal public comment on permits will not be taken at this point. However, if applications are received, there will be future opportunities to both obtain information about the applications and review and comment on draft permit decisions.

State agencies are currently developing a centralized website for the PolyMet permitting process. The DNR will announce when the website is ready through its email system and will post the presentation material from the meeting on April 19. The website will also include directions on how to sign up for updates on the permitting process.

About the NorthMet mine proposal

The proposed NorthMet mine project would be located in the St. Louis River watershed on the eastern edge of the Mesabi Iron Range, about 6 miles south of Babbitt and about 1 mile south of the existing iron-ore Northshore Mine. The ore would be processed at a former industrial site, the LTV plant in Hoyt Lakes.

The total project area would include the open pit mine, a processing plant, tailings basin and an existing 7-mile-long railroad corridor for ore transport between the mine and the processing plant.