White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog
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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.






https://slcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=6927dae79beb425995e6c97a270731e1#viewer=bacce9c6510e4c42b55d5eeffeee9d15 (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 wicola.org, 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): https://www.co.lake.mn.us/soil-and.../swcd-workshop-signup/ 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: https://zoom.us/j/91731440758 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 interesting.www.dnr.state.mn.us/ice_out/index.html

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 (http://www.boulderlake.org/), 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 (http://greatlakeswormwatch.org) and Jumping worm (https://jwp.cfans.umn.edu/jumping-worms-project) programs and has developed local projects looking at vernal pools, bird populations, invasive species and tree survival.

Register here.

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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 www.lowwsf.com.

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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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PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

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


If you are interested in becoming a member or renewing your membership, follow the link below.

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