White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

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.
www.pca.state.mn.us • 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.

www.pca.state.mn.us • 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; http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html


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: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/news/2018-impaired-waters-list-success-stories-surfacing-minnesota-lakes-streams



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 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


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; http://www.shoreviewnatives.com/plant-list/4592113049

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


Governor Dayton’s Water Quality Town Hall Meeting to Be Held in Ely

Joined by environmental advocates, lawmakers, and concerned Minnesotans for Water Action Day at the Minnesota State Capitol, Governor Mark Dayton announced a series of Water Quality Town Hall meetings beginning in late July. The town halls offer Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss the water quality challenges facing their communities and our state, learn from experts, and engage with policymakers. The town hall meetings build on the momentum from Governor Dayton’s “25 by 25” Water Quality goal proposal, announced earlier this year.

Town hall meetings have been scheduled in communities across Minnesota.

Make sure to attend the Water Quality Town Hall in Ely.

Ely – Water Quality Town Hall

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grand Ely Lodge, 400 North Pioneer Road

Registration opens at 5:30 p.m.

Northeast Minnesota Information Packet

Ely Town Hall on Facebook


August 2017 Public Meeting of the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board in Tower, MN

The International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board invites you to attend a presentation by the Board, meet Board members and staff, ask questions, and express concerns. 

  • TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017 – 6:30pm-8:30pm Fortune Bay Resort Casino & Conference Centre 1430 Bois Forte Road, Tower, Minnesota

Imagine two countries sharing hundreds of lakes and rivers along their border without conflict. That is the mission of the International Joint Commission (IJC) which was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the waters the two countries share. Its responsibilities included investigating and reporting on issues of concern when asked by the governments of the two countries. The IJC has created boards to watch over 12 watersheds shared by the two countries, including the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed. 

The public meeting is an opportunity to both learn more about the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board and to provide input about concerns people have about both water quantity and water quality issues in the watershed. Normally the Board meets in International Falls or Kenora Ontario, so this is a chance for them to learn and hear more about what is happening here in the headwaters of the watershed. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens here does not stay here, but flows eventually to those border waters between Minnesota and Canada. The Board needs to hear about your problems and hopes for this area.

Further information about the IJC may be found at; http://www.ijc.org/en_/ 

Further information about the Watershed Board may be found at: http://www.ijc.org/en_/Rainy_River_Basin and http://ijc.org/en_/RLWWB.


USFS Prescribed Burn; 8-5-17 Update

The USFS conducted a Prescribed Burn on White Iron Lake yesterday August 4th.  The purpose of the prescribed burn was fuel reduction and ecosystem management.

(See 8/4/17 WICOLA Latest News Article for details)

The USFS reports that the fire behavior was moderate which was what fire managers planned. Fuels were not too wet nor too dry and there was good consumption in most of the unit. In some portions the fire left a mosaic of burned and unburned fuels.

Tomorrow through the weekend, some pockets of fuels will be ignited, especially along the north line. Hose lays and sprinklers will be used and crews will be monitoring fire activity. Visitors and residents will see and smell smoke through the weekend. A northwest wind is predicted for tomorrow pushing most of the smoke to the southeast. The north line will be patrolled until there is a soaking rain or fire behavior is minimal.


USFS Prescribed Burn; 8-4-17

The USFS is planning a Prescribed Burn on White Iron Lake today (8-4-17).  Below is a map of the area and a message from the USFS discussing the planned burn.  Please contact the USFS if you have any questions or need more information. 

Rebecca Manlove

Information Assistant

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

















United States Department of Agriculture

Date Issued:  August 3, 2017

Anticipated Date of Ignition: Friday, August 4, 2017

Prescribed Fire Information: 218-365-2093

Location:  T62N R12W S13 and T62N R11W S18 In northeastern Minnesota, in St. Louis County on the Kawishiwi Ranger District on the Superior National Forest (Map above.) This 82 acre unit is located at the tip of the peninsula at the end of Ring Rock Road on the southeastern shore of White Iron Lake.


The purpose of the prescribed fire is fuel reduction and ecosystem management. Fire managers want to burn the White Iron Unit after the fuels dry slightly from recent rain but not so long afterward that all the fuels on the landscape dry out. The ideal condition is a northerly wind to blow smoke and embers away from nearby homes. Enough crews will be on duty to both accomplish the prescribed fire and to be on stand-by for response to wildfires in case they happen at the same time.

One reason a summer burn is ideal is that older pines have more water. We've been measuring the moisture level in the needles of the balsam, Jack pine, white pine, and red pine. The pines have plenty of water to buffer themselves from the heat of a fire. Historically, fires burned in summer when there is more lightning.  These trees co-evolved with fire, so most can handle the heat of a surface fire. Burning will protect the peninsula from stand-replacing fire and reduce the germination of balsam fir. Fire kills the balsam seeds in the soil. A summer burn is within the prescription of the burn plan for this unit.


· Firefighters crews will use hose lines and hand tools and work directly on the prescribed burn unit.

· Crews will use boats during the ignition phase as well as holding operations because the unit is on a peninsula. Additional crews will remain on stand-by in case wildfire breaks out in other locations.

· Sprinkler hoses will be set up along the northern line. Balsam was removed and brush piles were burned last spring.

· Many nearby landowners have created defensible space using Firewise Standards around their structures.


·There will be no closures of entry points, campsites or portages within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

· Depending on winds, residents and visitors on White Iron and Birch Lakes, the South Kawishiwi River, and the Spruce Road may see and smell smoke. 


Blueberry Festival; “Guess the Number of Rusty Crayfish” Winner

Volunteers from WICOLA and Partner Organizations spoke with hundreds of visitors at the 2017 Annual Blueberry Festival. Visitors to the booth welcomed the information provided about the spread and prevention of aquatic invasive species, and water monitoring in WICOL and surrounding lakes throughout the watershed.

Part of the education on Rusty Crawfish involved identification of this invasive species with the opportunity to guess the number of Rusty Crayfish in a two quart bottle. This year’s winner is Lauren, a Wisconsin resident who spends summers in Ely. Lauren was the only entry with the correct number of crayfish- 112. The prize was a Kubb Set made by a WICOLA member. For those that may not be familiar, Kubb is a lawn game where the objective is to knock over wooden blocks (kubbs) by throwing wooden batons at them. Kubb can be described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. The alleged Viking origin of the game has led some players and kubb fans to nickname the game “Viking chess”.


1854 Treaty Authority – Impact of Rusty Crayfish on Wild Rice

Note; Lakes included in this research study include Farm, Garden and White Iron.

Orconectes rusticus (rusty crayfish) is the only confirmed species of invasive crayfish in the 1854 Ceded Territory in NE MN. Rusty crawfish prefer rocky substrate, but have been found to inhabit sand, silt, clay, and gravel. They prefer warmer temperatures, but can tolerate cool water and are usually found in shallow areas. Rusty crawfish do not possess an ability to burrow, and require clear and well- oxygenated water to survive.

 Rusty crawfish has been found to graze heavily on germinating aquatic vegetation, and are capable of displacing and reducing the diversity of native aquatic plants (aquatic plants). Introductions of Rusty crawfish have shown detrimental impacts on aquatic plant populations around the littoral zone of lake systems. In some instances, reductions of aquatic plant populations by as much as 80% have occurred.

The 1854 Treaty Authority has interest in the effects of Rusty crawfish on aquatic plant communities that produce native Zizania palustris (wild rice) within the 1854 Ceded Territory. Wild rice is a culturally significant plant that provides sustenance in many forms to the Bois Forte and Grand Portage Chippewa bands. Wild rice typically grows best in shallow depths of 1-3 feet in areas containing soft, organic bottoms. In mid-June, wild rice reaches the “floating-leaf” stage at which point wild rice lays flat on the surface of the water and can form dense leafy mats. In July, wild rice begins to emerge vertically and can stand out of the water up to 6-8 ft. tall. In August and September ripe seed can be harvested or will fall in the water to germinate the next year.

Wild rice populations have been observed to decline in some areas infested with Rusty crawfish, but whether this impact is directly related to an infestation is unknown. The 1854 Treaty Authority conducted a study from 2013 to 2016 testing for the potential impacts of Rusty crawfish on wild rice. From 2013-15 the study focused on if Rusty crawfish negatively impacts wild rice populations, and in 2016 the study addressed the questions of which stages of wild rice growth can Rusty crawfish affect, and if wild rice is a preferred food source.

The full report (16 pages) of the 1854 Treaty Authority wild rice/rusty crayfish project is now available on their web site at:


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Ely, MN 55731

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