White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

“Spring” Lake Ice Observations; April 2019


White Iron Lake

The ice is starting to go! These pictures were taken on April 18th and 20th at the White Iron mid-lake narrows. An otter was also out on the lake taking advantage of the open water. He was observed swimming under the ice and then surfacing with food.


WICOLA Spring Rendezvous - 2019


If you were not at WICOLA’s spring meeting on April 6th, you missed a high energy presentation from Sherry Abts on loon behavior, migration, and many other fascinating facts.  The 33 members and guests who were at Veterans on the Lake, enjoyed loon calls, photos, and heard about the latest in loon research.  Sherry is organizing a local loon monitoring program this summer so check back with the WICOLA’s website for more information on the program as it becomes available.

Don’t miss the WICOLA annual meeting, August 1st at the Grand Ely Lodge.



WICOLA Spring Rendezvous, Saturday April 6th

The WICOLA Spring Rendezvous is on Saturday, April 6, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Veterans On the Lake Resort.  If you are in the area or within driving distance, please join us for coffee and refreshments 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 speaker will be Sherry Abts. Sherry will provide 2018 loon breeding season data for our area lakes. She will also give us an update on the BP Oil Spill funding for "loon restoration & lead tackle replacement”. Additionally Sherry will provide training for the 2019 MN DNR Loonwatch survey. Finally, as time allows, she will handle questions and MC your loon stories.

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.

Veterans On the Lake Resort

161 Fernberg Rd

Ely, MN 55731, USA


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

- Order Deadline: Monday, May 6, 2019

- Pickup Days: Thursday, May 9, 2019 (9:00 am – 3:30 pm) & Friday, May 10 (9:00 am to 6:30 pm)

- Pickup Location: DNR Loading Dock, 7979 MN Hwy 37, Eveleth (Near intersection of MN 37 and US 53)



Lake County

- Order Deadline: Friday, April 19th, 2019.

- Pickup Day; Friday, May 10th, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

- Pickup Location: Lake County SWCD office (behind building, in front of garage) 408 First Avenue, Two Harbors.



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.


Water Action Day to be held at Minnesota State Capitol on April 10

Concerned citizens will meet with legislators and rally to protect Minnesota's water.

Registration is open for Water Action Day 2018!

Water Action Day is a day of public action and advocacy to let lawmakers know Minnesotans care about their water.

The all-day event will include a free breakfast and briefings in the morning, both on how to actively engage and influence legislators and on the water issues Minnesota faces.

Throughout the day, attendees can attend group meetings, meet with legislators to ask them to protect our water, attend important hearings on our bills, participate in a youth summit, and join the Clean Water Rally that will be held in the Capitol Rotunda at 2:00 pm.


Sign up today and find out how you can participate!

Come for all or part of the day!


  • Free breakfast at home base (church basement): 8-10 a.m.
  • Citizen lobbying & policy basics (repeating sessions) 8:30 a.m. – Noon
  • Drop-in policy briefings (multiple topics): 9 a.m. – Noon
  • Meetings with your legislators: throughout the day
  • Free lunch at home base: 11 a.m.-1 p.m
  • (NEW): Environmental Town Hall with key state leaders: time TBD
  • Water film screening (film TBD): 12:30-1:45 p.m.
  • Youth Summit with Walz Administration: time TBD
  • #ProtectOurWater Rally in the Rotunda: 2 p.m.
  • Committee hearings on key water legislation: time TBD


Minnesota State Capitol & Christ Lutheran Church

105 University Ave W.

St. Paul, MN 55103


Climate Change is affecting Minnesota more than most states

Loons could retreat into Canada, leaving Minnesota for good by 2080, if climate change continues to deteriorate the birds’ habitat in the state.

Tamarac wildlife biologist Wayne Brininger says climate change has happened gradually for millions of years, and plants and animals have been able to adapt to the slow changes. The problem is that habitats are beginning to change faster as climate change happens faster, and the flora and fauna can’t keep up.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, the state just keeps getting warmer and is receiving more precipitation. This precipitation seems to come in “hundred year flood events” and then completely stops, causing flooding and then drought, neither of which are friendly to area wildlife. Minnesota’s average temperatures have warmed 2.9 degrees (Fahrenheit) between 1895 and 2017 and the state now gets an average of 3.4 more inches of precipitation, though the most dramatic changes have happened in the last several decades and are expected to continue.

Rob Baden, Detroit Lakes DNR wildlife manager, says many studies are showing that the state is experiencing more extreme precipitation events and droughts, as well as winter freeze-thaw patterns. He says numerous species in the area, including deer, walleyes, ticks, turkeys, pheasants, snowshoe hares, and others as well as a number of plant species, could be affected by these changes.

As the DNR and Tamarac wildlife scientists study these changes in climate, they are also trying to figure out ways to counteract their effects and maintain habitat balance for the wildlife here. Two of the biggest ways they’re looking to do that is by diversifying plants and finding ways to maintain water levels.

“We’re trying to diversify the forests a little bit more and...we’re picking species to replant that tolerate the dryer conditions,” said Baden, though he adds that it’s more complicated than that. There are many factors that go into picking certain seed mixes to plant, so they don’t “put all their eggs in one basket” with one single species.

Adding control structures to lakes to maintain water levels is another way the DNR is counteracting some of these changes, but Baden admits they have a ways to go and, while their actions are based on science, he says it’s not exact.

For more information on how climate change is affecting the state and ways the DNR is working to counteract that change, people can visit; 



Smart Salting Tips that Protect Our Waters

As the first major snows of the season arrive, Minnesotans are thinking about clearing snow and ice from pavement — sometimes with salt. But when the snow melts, de-icing salt, which contains chloride, runs into nearby bodies of water and harms aquatic wildlife.

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. Chloride accumulates in the water over time, and there’s no feasible way to treat or remove it. It only takes a teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute five gallons of water. To date, the MPCA has found Forty-seven bodies of water in Minnesota that have tested above the standard for chloride.

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. You might think more salt means more melting and safer conditions, but it’s not true! Salt will effectively remove snow and ice if it’s scattered so that the salt grains are about three inches apart. A coffee mug full of salt (about 12 ounces) is all you need for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet).

Do your part by following these nine 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.
www.pca.state.mn.us • Toll-free and TDD 800-657-3864 


2019 Membership Renewals and New Memberships

We hope that you will renew your WICOLA membership or join WICOLA as a new member to be part of our active lake association and help us accomplish our many goals. If you have already submitted your membership for 2019, THANK YOU.

Belonging to WICOLA gives you the opportunity to participate in helping to secure a healthy future for our lakes. Your renewal / new membership and any additional donations assure the continued ability of our organization to be a respected and active voice for healthy water in the Rainy River Watershed.

You can join / renew your membership Online and remit by Credit Card or PayPal,

Or Just Click on the Membership Tab above, “Membership-Online”.


If you prefer, you can print this page (print icon upper left), cut out and complete the Membership Form, and return with your check to; WICOLA, PO Box 493, Ely, MN 55731











Or Click on the Membership Tab above, “Membership-Printable Form”, Application Form,

View or Download


Lake Ice Observations

Several WICOLA Board members report Lake Ice Observations to the Minnesota DNR. Their observations will occasionally be posted here as a reference 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; http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html


White Iron

Ice In; November 14th.

On November 9th, ice began forming along the shore, especially in protected bays. The South end of White Iron mimicked Farm and Garden Lakes with a thin layer of ice on November 10th. However the North End of White Iron continued to remain open until November 14th when Ice In was declared.

As a point of reference, Ice In for White Iron over the last few years;

2015 November 29th

2016 December 9th

2017 November 10th



Ice In; November 10th

Garden Lake was covered with a thin layer of ice on the morning of November 10th, even where the current of the Kawishiwi River runs in front of Deer Ridge Resort. There was sufficient ice to declare Ice In.



Ice In; November 14th

Farm Lake was also showing signs of a thin layer of ice on the morning of November 10th. However Ice In was not declared for Farm Lake until 11/14 when it became impossible to navigate a boat from shore to shore.

As a point of reference, recent early Ice In’s for Farm Lake;

2014 November 8th

2017 November 10th




Want to help Minnesota attract some Deep-Water Horizon Oil Spill" remediation" funding?

Carrol Henderson (MN DNR) has crafted & submitted a very comprehensive proposal. 

Take a few minutes to write a comment on the following National Park Service link; parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=534&projectID=81144&documentID=90936

(Click on the green “Comment Now” box found in the lower left) 

Please support the full proposal as written. It includes documentation that "our" loons migrate in large numbers to the Gulf each winter.

It also includes strong citizen participation / lake associations in assisting with enhancement of loon breeding / nesting habitats. And it contains efforts to get lead sinkers out of circulation with lead poisoning as key element in loon mortality.

For more information on the National Park Service; nps.gov


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 AIS confirmations were initially reported by people making end of season inspections of docks, boats and boat lifts.

“A few simple steps now can help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species” says the Minnesota DNR.


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 http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais/contacts.html 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: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquatic/index.html



Did you know there are over 40 lake associations in the Rainy Lake of the Woods Watershed – some in Canada, some in the United States? On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 the 2nd Binational Lake Association Networking Event was held so watershed associations could learn from their neighbors more information about their successes, programs, membership engagement and more.

WICOLA members Teresa Sagen, Dolores Delaney and Charlene Mason represented WICOLA at this event in Ft. Francis, Canada. 

Guest Speakers included Jeff Forester, Executive Director, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates and Todd Sellers, Executive Director, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.


FREE septic system and private well homeowner education class – Oct 9th

University of Minnesota and Minnesota Homeowner Seminar

The UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, along with Lake County and Lake County SWCD, offering a FREE septic system and private well homeowner education class in our area on October 9, 2018. It will be held at the Fall Lake Township Town Hall from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. This class 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.   Christine McCarthy, the Environmental Services Director for Lake County, will be present to answer any questions you may have related to the local ordinance and related programs.

Date: Tuesday, October 9

Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm

Location: Fall Lake Township Town Hall

Presenter: Sara Heger of the University of MN Twin Cities

Participants are encouraged to sign up at the following link, however walk-ins are welcome;


For Lake County Residents that sign up early on the above link, Lake County will assemble a packet with people’s personal septic system and well information.

Contact Lake County SWCD for more information. (218) 834-8370 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For additional information, resources, and links on septic systems and water wells, click on the “Educational Tab” on the WICOLA Homepage and then “Septic Systems” and “Water Wells”.


New starry stonewort infestation found by volunteers participating in statewide search

Over 225 volunteers across the state turned out on Saturday, August 18 to participate in Starry Trek, a statewide search for starry stonewort that was organized by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) and University of Minnesota Extension in partnership with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Here in Lake and St. Louis Counties, 2 volunteers participated. After being trained to identify starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species, volunteers fanned out and checked 2 lakes in the Ely area.

After volunteers searched over 225 public accesses on 187 water bodies statewide, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the invasive algae starry stonewort in Wolf Lake in Hubbard County. This is the third new confirmation of starry stonewort in a Minnesota lake in 2018. Volunteers also discovered a new zebra mussel infestation in Lake Isabelle in Dakota County. No new aquatic invasive species were found in lakes and rivers searched in Lake County.

The lakes that were searched had been prioritized as potentially high-risk for a starry stonewort infestation based on a model created by MAISRC researchers along with local use information from Starry Trek local coordinators.

“These discoveries by volunteers participating in Starry Trek highlight the importance of reports from members of the general public,” said Megan Weber, MAISRC Extension Educator. “We need as many eyes on the water as possible to help identify new invasions as early and provide the best opportunities for response.”

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since been found in 14 Minnesota lakes, including Wolf Lake. Research into control options is ongoing at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

Starry stonewort can grow tall and dense, forming mats on the surface that interfere with recreation and potentially displacing native plant species.

“We can’t thank the local coordinators and all the volunteers across the state who make this event possible enough,” added Weber. “They are truly making a difference in the health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.”

“On behalf of Lake County, I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who came out to help check our lakes, and our AIS Sentries and Detectors who keep an eye on our lakes and rivers throughout the season” said Sonja Smerud, AIS Coordinator, Lake County SWCD. “Protecting our lakes for future generations is really important to us all, and we want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS.”

The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center works across the state to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems; and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others.  A portion of the funding for this program is provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Learn more at www.maisrc.umn.edu.

For statewide information, contact:

Megan Weber, Extension Educator

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

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



For local information, contact:

Sonja Smerud


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

(218) 834-8513


For local information, contact:

Emily Nelson

North St. Louis SWCD

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

(218) 471-7285


Report: Boundary Waters has greater long-term economic potential than mining

Posted August 22, 2018 on The Quetico Superior Foundation website.

While a new copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters could cause a temporary growth in jobs in the Ely area, the benefits would eventually be outweighed by the harm done to the recreation and tourism industry, and the region’s ability to draw new residents.

That is according to a study conducted by a Harvard economist and graduate student. The pair conducted the work on their own, without compensation.

They say their report is unique in looking two decades ahead under the dueling scenarios of an operational Twin Metals mine along the South Kawishiwi River, or if mining is blocked.

To produce their forecast, the economists ran a model 72 times comparing the scenarios. To come up with conservative estimates, the model excluded many economic benefits of the Boundary Waters.

“In all but three of scenarios, the 20-year ban produced greater economic benefits,” the Save the Boundary Waters campaign wrote. “This means that in almost 96 percent of the scenarios, protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining won out, even under some of the most conservative circumstances.”

‘Negative effect’

Commenting on the Forest Service’s proposed 20-year prohibition on mining in the wilderness watershed, the report’s authors said it would have a greater economic benefit than letting mining happen.

“We find that, over the 20-year time horizon of the proposed withdrawal, introducing mining in the Superior National Forest is very likely to have a negative effect on the regional economy,” the authors said. “We reviewed the relevant literature and conclude that our findings are consistent with the literature, most notably the history of boom-bust economies associated with resource extraction that leave the local economy worse off.”

Lead author Dr. James Stock is a member of the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School. He served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2013-2014. The authors sent their report to Superior National Forest supervisor Connie Cummins earlier this month for consideration in the agency’s decision about the proposed moratorium.

A narrower study released last year by the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, based on surveys of spending by wilderness visitors, estimated the Boundary Waters produced $78 million of economic input in northeastern Minnesota in 2016.

To Read the entire HARVARD UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS report; Download here (PDF)


Bob King – “Why Dark Skies are Good for You”

A highlight of the WICOLA August 4th Annual Meeting was the star studded presentation by Bob King. Bob shared with the attendees a presentation on all the wonderful things visible in the night sky along with the importance of outdoor lighting that reduces light pollution and its harm to the environment and how everyone can make a difference.

Some of the references Bob provided on this important topic are;

  • The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide; http://darksky.org/about/
  • Bob also writes a Regular Astronomy Blog that also includes Astronomy and Lighting Links; https://astrobob.areavoices.com/
  • The Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar promotes skywatching for people of all ages. As its name implies, the sheet for each month takes the form of a calendar. Diagrams in the boxes invite the reader to track the moon's rapid motion past the planets and bright stars of the zodiac, as well as to follow the more leisurely pace of the planets in their gatherings with bright stars and other planets. The reverse side consists of a simplified star map of the month's evening sky. The sky maps are designed for use at a convenient time in mid-evening, for a latitude useful for the entire continental U.S. (40 degrees north). The Sky Calendar is published in loose-leaf form and mailed quarterly (Feb-Mar-Apr; May-Jun-Jul; Aug-Sep-Oct; Nov-Dec-Jan). A subscription may start anytime and consists of twelve issues. Sky Calendar prices are $12.00 for a year’s subscription; http://www.abramsplanetarium.org/




WICOLA now takes Credit Cards for Membership

WICOLA has now made it easier for existing members to renew their membership and for new members to join WICOLA and pay their annual dues. There are now 2 ways to join.

  • NEW Option –  Complete membership form Online / Remit payment electronically
  • Current Option – Download the membership form and send in with check payment

On the WICOLA website, under the “Membership” tab, there are now 3 menu options.

  • Donate – Online
  • Membership – Printable Form
  • Membership – Online

With the new online option, once the application form is completed, the member presses “select” and will be directed to PayPal to pay your membership dues.  Payment on PayPal can be made with a Credit Card or member PayPal account.

The member will receive an e-mail confirmation from WICOLA confirming their application as well as confirmation of payment from PayPal.

As a reminder regarding security, the WICOLA website is also now secured with an SSL certificate / encrypted data transmission. Note the padlock symbol next to the WICOLA web address. Also, no member data is stored on the WICOLA website. PayPal also provides a secure website and transaction.


WICOLA at the Blueberry Festival; July 27-29th

Attending the Blueberry Festival?

Come by the WICOLA Booth (#172) to visit, check out the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) materials, and enter the “guess the number of Rusty Crayfish” contest to win a special prize. 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.


AIS – Citizen Sentry Training, July 21st

Additional Training Date for Citizen Sentries has been scheduled!

The White Iron Chain of Lakes Association’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) focus this summer is to train and develop more volunteer “Sentries” to monitor AIS across our chain of lakes. By each of us keeping our eyes on the condition of our little corners of the lake, we can have a big impact on the prevention of AIS. If you see something unusual in the lake, we have a process for confirming your findings and reporting it to the DNR for immediate action. The faster we identify an infestation, the quicker we can respond to keep it localized or to eliminate it.

By becoming a volunteer Aquatic Invasive Species Sentry, participants will learn:

  1. How to distinguish AIS from native species
  2. The top AIS threats and the possible impact on our chain of lakes
  3. Early detection techniques and how to communicate potential sightings.

In addition to the June training session, WICOLA has now scheduled an additional July Sentry Training Session which is once again FREE for any members who are interested in becoming a Sentry;

Saturday, July 21st. Sentry Volunteers will meet at the Kawishiwi Ranger District at 9:30am and then head over to Farm Lake for Training.

Included in the training, all participants will go home with:

  • A manual of native and invasive species comparison
  • A pocket guide to native and invasive species for use at the lakeside
  • A special rake for collecting plant samples

If you missed the June Training Session, make sure to attend the July Citizen Sentry Training!

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


Shoreline Management – Lakeshore Alteration

Many lake property owners may wonder what permits are needed to do certain alteration activities on their lakeshore.

According to the Minnesota DNR, work that is proposed below the ordinary high water level (OHWL) of public waters and public waters wetlands may require a DNR public waters work permit, and should be coordinated through the DNR area hydrologist representing the area where the work is being proposed. Examples of activities include excavating rocks and material or providing fill.

In addition, local units of government, watershed districts, water management organizations, or conservation districts regulate activities both above and below the OHWL of a water body or watercourse. You should contact your local unit of government, who administer ordinances regulating shoreland areas.

Also, if your proposal involves work on the upland portion of a riparian (river) property, you should contact your local unit of government, who administer ordinances regulating floodplains and shoreland areas.

St. Louis County’s “Land Alteration” webpage &Zoning Ordinance #62, effective October 1, 2016”

Filling, grading, or excavating on shoreland property requires a land alteration permit if the activity exceeds certain limits.

Permit Required:

  1. Any alteration of the natural topography located within the shore impact zone or within 50 feet of the shore, whichever is more restrictive.
  2. Any alteration of natural topography, located outside the shore impact zone or bluff impact zone that exceeds 50 cubic yards of material.
  3. Shoreline riprap projects that do not follow DNR permit requirements or do not comply with state rules for shoreline alterations.

Lake County “Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Ordinance #12, effective June 23, 2017”

Filling, grading, or excavating on shoreland property requires a land alteration permit if the activity exceeds certain limits;

Sec.  6.13 Soil Disturbance Thresholds

Shore Impact Zones - Land located between the vegetation line of public water and a line parallel to it at a distance of 50 feet

1) Under 10 cubic yards of material disturbed - no permit required.

2) Ten to 50 cubic yards of material disturbed - Land Use Permit required.

Sec.  7.09 Shoreland Excavations:

In addition to grading and filling requirements above, the Commissioner of Natural Resources must issue a permit for work in the beds of public waters under Minnesota Statutes 103G.245.

For assistance in permit requirements in St. Louis County;

  • Technical Assistance Toll Free: 1-800-450-9777
  • Duluth Government Services Center, (218) 725-5000   
  • Virginia Northland Office Center, (218) 749-7103 

For assistance in permit requirements in Lake County (Two Harbors);

  • Environmental Services Planning & Zoning, (218)-834-8327  Fax: (218)-834-8365

Questions can also be sent to;

  • The Minnesota DNR; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 Important: This article is not intended to be a definitive guide on permit requirements. Rather it is intended to offer some basic insight into permits and to demonstrate that permits are required for some basic shoreline alteration. Permits are designed to protect our lakes and the lifestyle they provide. Permits are “tools” to sustain and enhance our lakes and shorelines so that residents and visitors can enjoy. Permits and Approvals may be required from federal, state, and local units of government, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, watershed districts, water management organizations, counties, townships, and cities.

PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

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