White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog


Members are welcome to attend the August 7 Annual Meeting even if you are not coming for the social hour and dinner. Plan to arrive at the GEL at approximately 6:45 p.m. for the program and business meeting.


Crayfish, Mussels and Money

Updates on AIS - With summer here and boat traffic being heavy on highways and waterways, it is a good time to think about Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS):

  • Rusty Crayfish - WICOLA has been busy trying to reduce the Rusty Crayfish population by intensively trapping them. Charlene Mason is trying to track down information on existing infestions in the US and Canada. We recently worked with USGS to update their website for Non-native species to show every lake that is known to be infested with Rusty Crayfish. http://nas2.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=214
  • Don't be surprised if you see Conservation Corps crews trapping crayfish on the Kawishiwi River at the end of July. They will be working with the USFS to try to stave off the spread of Rusty Crayfish into the BWCAW via the North and South Kawishiwi Rivers.
  • Zebra Mussels - With the finding of Zebra Mussels in Crooked Lake near Finland, it is only logical to see if other lakes in the area have conditions that can permit Zebra Mussels to survive. Since their shells are predominantly calcium and this part of the state is typically low in calcium, many of the area lakes are low risk. Lake and Cook Counties, along with MPCA and WICOLA, are adding another bottle to our sampling regime. In August and September, over 40 lakes will be assessed for their susceptibility to zebra mussel infestation. Since we are already taking samples on these lakes, it is a low cost way to assist DNR in their fight against Zebra mussels.
  • Funding - You may have heard that the Counties received money to help control AIS. In 2014, Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties are scheduled to receive $461,623 to fight the spread of AIS. In 2015, the total to these same Counties will exceed one million dollars! If you have ideas/issues to be considered, contact your county representatives since they are looking for input on how best to use the funding.
  • Blueberry Festival - Don't forget to stop by and talk to experts and neighbors who will be staffing a booth and sharing information on AIS.
  • Prevention - Continue to be dligent in following procedures for ridding your (and your guest's) boats, fishing tackle, etc. if they are used on other lakes. Also, report any evidence of AIS on our lakes and others. There are still Rusty Crayfish traps available to members to use if you want to join your neighbors in ridding our lakes of these invasive species.

Never-On-the-4th WICOLA Boat Parade

Join WICOLA members on Saturday, July 5 at 10:00 a.m. for the annual Never-on-the- 4th Parade. This year's parade will be on Farm Lake. Meet just off Camp Voyaguer on the east side.  Decorations are optional but decorated boats are encouraged!


WICOLA Annual Dinner and Meeting August 7

Please join us at WICOLA's Annual Meeting and Dinner on August 7 at the Grand Ely Lodge. Social Hour/Cash Bar will be from 5-6pm  and dinner at 6pm, with a program and business meeting to follow. For more informaiton and to make reservations, contact Dolores Delaney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 218-3657863. Reservations and checks ($25 per person) can also be mailed to WICOLA, PO Box 493, Ely, MN 55731


AIS Prevention Efforts and Education

With recent reports of the spread of zebra mussels in Northern MN and continued efforts to contain the spread of rusty crayfish and spiny waterflea in WICOL and contingent waterways, it is a good time to review the 2012 Summary Report of the KWPP AIS Survey by Doug Jensen of U of M Sea Grant Program. The survey shows that public education is the key to success in addressing AIS in our waters. We should all do our part to prevent the spread of AIS to our lakes by educating ourselves and others. See the full summary report on AIS under Resources and Related Reports.


Need Information About Water Levels?

To stay informed about the current water level flow and conditions, please check the Minnesota Power water levels webpage at http://web15.mnpower.com/web/public/Hydro/ShorelandTraditions/Levels.html  and the USGS stream flow report covering the inflow to Birch Lake Reservoir at  



WICOLA Membership

WICOLA membership numbers are at 167, as of April 14, 2014. We continue to think of ways to recruit more members, to magnify our impact with policymakers and to expand our volunteer pool. Please ask your friends and neighbors who live on the WICOLA Chain of Lakes to join us. One-to-one contacts are the most effective way to increase membership and to tell your neighbors about the benefits of belonging to WICOLA. This summer, WICOLA will offer well-testing kits at a discount to members. This is just one of the many benefits of membership to share with your neighbors.


WICOLA Member Attends Sonde Training

WICOLA member, Teresa S., recently attended training at MPCA in Brainerd to learn about the use and maintenance of WICOLA's new Sonde. Derrick P. will provide water monitoring training for volunteers sometime in May for water monitoring on the Chain for May - October. Consider volunteering as a water monitor this summer and spend 3 hours boating on our lakes and enjoying the company of other WICOLA members. Watch for dates for the training in May (ice-out and weather permitting).


WICOLA Needs You!

Do you want to become more involved with WICOLA helping to protect our chain of lakes? We are looking for someone to step up to the interesting AIS Coordinator postion with WICOLA.

Aquatic Invasive Specis (AIS) Coordinator

Job Description

1. The AIS Coordinator works with the board to establish AIS related activities and plans to carry them out.

2. Current (2014) activities are:

  • Continuted distribution of crayfish traps.
  • A contest for who catches the most rusty crayfish
  • Prizes
  • Possible poster contest via schools
  • Publicity: radio and newspapers
  • Plans for public education regarding stopping the spread of spiny water flea and other AIS. Sea Grant provides these educational materials.

3.  AIS Coordinator will communicate and coordinate with SWCD via Derrick P. on all activities.

4. AIS will prepare an annual AIS Plan final report for the BOD

Without a coordinator, WICOLA will not have an AIS program in 2014. Please contact Jo Kovach 218-365-2894 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





Thanks to generous donations to the Larry Squillace Water Monitoring Fund, WICOLA has purchased a new sonde. A sonde is a water quality monitoring instrument that measure water temperature, conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, ph, turbidity, and depth. The WICOLA sonde allows for more efficient scheduling of water monitoring and training on our lakes. With the new sonde, all water monitoring equipment will be dedicated to use on WICOL, addressing the potential spread of AIS to our lakes through equipment used in in other lakes.

The Squillace family was delighted with WICOLA's purchase using the donations made in honor of Larry and assured us that he would be very pleased. Given the opportunity to name the sonde, Lisa and family named it BUNNY. The WICOLA Board gladly accepted the name since Larry was often referred to as the "energizer bunny" by family and friends.

After Calibration by Derrick Passe, Bunny will make his debut on our chain of lakes in May, 2014. Consider volunteering for water monitoring this summer and learn to use Bunny!


WICOLA Members, Please Renew!

WICOLA annual memberships expire on December 31. Please renew on our website or return the membership renewal form you will receive in November. Dues are $25 per year. Consider making an additional donation to help carry on the important work we've begun. Also, consider volunteering for one of WICOLA's board or offboard positions: Publicity, Newsletter Editor, Water Monitoring Coordinator, and AIS Coordinator.


WICOLA Recognized by MPCA

MPCA recently recognized WICOLA for our commitment to "protecting their lakes so the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness would remain clear and clean forever". Specifically, WICOLA was recognized for our creation and implementation of the Kawishiwi Watershed Protection Project, a multi-year joint plan in partnership with MPCA, St. Louis County and Lake County, to maintain or improve water quality within the 1353 square mile Kawishiwi Watershed.


Public Meeting: Discuss Lake Co. Water Quality Priorities

The Lake County Water Plan Advisory Committee will sponsor a public meeting on November 18 for Lake Co. residents for conversation about water quality priorities. Join the committee and other residents at the Two Harbors Community Center, 417 South Avenue, Two Harbors for a soup and bread dinner and community conversation: 5:00 - 5:30 pm Arrival and Introductions; 5:30 - 6:00 pm soup and bread; 6:00 - 8:00 Community Conversation.


WICOLA Represented on Advisory Groups

WICOLA is well represented on advisory committees and board that involve our Chain and our Watershed. Teresa Sagen, with Peter Davis as backup, is on the Lake County Water Plan Advisory Committee that will develop a new 5 year plan. Jo Kovach and Ken Wichmann are representing WICOLA on the KWPP Technical Advisory Team. WICOLA will also participate in the MPCA WRAPs process, which begins in January, 2014 and provides in-depth water testing and anaysis in the Watershed. Charlene Mason continues to serve on the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board. Ken Wichmann and others have been visiting with townships and Lake County Commissioners to report on the findings of the KWPP and the implementation phase.


2014 WICOLA Priorities

At their Septemter 9 meeting, your WICOLA Board prioritized the major KWPP implementation actions. These priorities will be the focus of your board throughout 2014:

  • Continue summer water monitoring in the WICOL; support Brich and Fall Lakes to field teams of water monitors.
  • Take next steps recommended for more information about possible areas of potential non compliant septic systems; Complete the Community Assessment Surveys on at least one of the areas identified by KWPP.
  • Promote Shoreline Best Management Practices (BMP's) throughout the Chain; provide educational resources.
  • Continue to aggressively act to slow the spread of Rusty Crayfish and other Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Join Lake County SWCD in grant efforts to prevent the spread of Rusties into the BWCAW.

September WICOLA Water Monitoring

WICOLA volunteers will be on the Chain on Tuesday, September 17, for water monitoring. Water samples will be taken from five sites on the Chain - one on White Iron, one on Garden, and three on Farm (Farm-South Kawishiwi, Farm- North Kawishiwi, and Farm-Middle). Volunteers will also look at samples to check for Spiny Waterfleas on our lakes. Help us prevent the spread of these AIS and others to our lakes from infested lakes by checking your boats and fishing equipment after fishing and boating in Burntside, Shagawa, and Fall Lakes. Be sure to dry your boat and equipment completely between relaunching or fishing in our lakes.


August Water Monitoring

Four WICOLA members (Bob, Bud, Dave, and Teresa) were on the chain of lakes August 21 completing the August  water monitoring. It's not too late to become involved in this valuable and enjoyable experience. The next water monitoring date is the morning of September 17. If interested in participating, contact Nancy P., who is coordinating volunteers. Nancy can be reached at 365-4121. Training will be provided for those new to water monitoring.


2013 Annual Meeting

Fifty-two members and guests attended the WICOLA annual dinner and business meeting. Nolan Baratono, Watershed Ecologist for MPCA, recognized WICOLA for our longtime interest and efforts in protecting our waters and, most recently, our role in the Kawishiwi Watershed Protection Protect (KWPP) grants. During the meeting members elected/reelected 3 members to the Board of Directors and adopted proposed action items that will guide WICOLA's priorities for the next 3-5 years (see adopted action items in the 2013 Annual Meeting Minutes under website resources).


Reminder August 8 Annual Meeting and Dinner

It's not too late to make plans to attend the WICOLA Annual Meeting and Dinner on August 8 at Creek Ridge. Call Dolores at 365-7863 to make reservations at $25 per person. Come at 5pm for a social hour and a time to visit with your WICOL neighbors. A buffet dinner will be served at 6pm followed by speaker, Nolan Boratano, from MPCA and our annual meeting and elections. Directions to Creek Ridge: Take Hwy 1 South out of Ely 3.5 miles to County Road 655 and turn left. Follow Co. Rd 655 approximately .5 miles to Creek Ridge Road. Follow the signs into the lodge. If you prefer to arrive by boat or pontoon, there is space available at the Creek Ridge dock. 


Paleolimnology Presentation on August 1

Euan Reevie from the Natural Resources Research Institute will present results of the Paleolimnology study of the White Iron Chain of Lakes on Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. at VCC, room C104. Euan will share infomation gained from core samples taken from the WICOL lakes as part of KWPP grants. This presentation is in conjunction withEly Field Naturalist and is open to the public. Come and learn about the effect our history has had on our water quality. 

PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

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