White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

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:



WICOLA at the Blueberry Festival; July 28-30th

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.


Who Needs a Rain Garden?

Rain Gardens are depressions in the Landscape that are often planted with native flowers, shrubs, and trees. These spaces allow storm water from impervious surfaces and snowmelt runoff to be captured, stored, and infiltrated into the landscape. Instead of flowing over the surface of the landscape and potentially causing erosion or transporting contaminants into our lakes, the water soaks into the ground. This process provides moisture to help support the plants in the garden, which in turn support the native insect and bird populations that depend on these plants for food and shelter.

Did you know…?

  • A rain Garden improves water quality and attracts a wide variety of butterflies, songbirds, and admirers to your landscape
  • There is much less long-term maintenance with a rain garden compared to a grass lawn
  • A rain garden can include flowers, grasses, trees, and shrubs
  • A well planned rain garden won’t have standing water in it for more than a day of two, and will not breed mosquitos or black flies

Rainey River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy - WRAPS

The Rainy River-Headwaters Watershed lies in northeastern Minnesota and covers approximately 2,954 square miles or 1,890,689 acres. A total of 1,273 lakes (>10 acres) and 408 stream reaches reside within this watershed. Streams are generally small to moderate in channel size, short, and vary in gradient; many are direct tributaries to the many lakes in the watershed. The immaculate waters found within this watershed not only produce some of the highest quality fisheries in the state but also offer visitors many scenic and natural views. The most visited wilderness area (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) in the United States is located within this watershed, with water as a major focal point. Today over 99% of the Rainy River-Headwaters Watershed is undeveloped and utilized for timber production, hunting, fishing, hiking, and other recreational opportunities. Large tracts of public land exist within this watershed, including county land, national and state forests, wildlife management areas, scientific and natural areas, state parks, and a national park.

In 2014, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) undertook an intensive watershed monitoring (IWM) effort of surface waters within the Rainy River-Headwaters Watershed. Sixty-two stream stations were sampled for biology at the outlets of variable sized subwatersheds. These locations included the mouth of the Ash, Bear Island, Black Duck, Cross, Dumbbell, Dunka, Island, Little Indian Sioux, Little Isabella, Shagawa, South Kawishiwi, and Stony rivers, as well as the upstream outlets of major tributaries, and the headwater outlets of smaller streams. Cook and Lake County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and Vermilion Community College completed stream water chemistry sampling at the outlets of 13 streams. In addition, the MPCA, Lake County SWCD, Natural Resources Research Institute, National Park Service, and local volunteers completed lake monitoring on 60 lakes. In 2016, a holistic approach was taken to assess all surface waterbodies within the Rainy River-Headwaters Watershed for support of aquatic life, recreation, and consumption (where sufficient data was available).

The full report (337 pages) of the Rainy River Headwaters WRAPS report is now available online at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-ws3-09030001b.pdf.

Want to know more about the WRAPS process and the significance for WICOLA?  See MPCA's Amy Mustonen's article in WICOLA's Summer 2017 Newsletter.


Lake County Seeking Hazard Mitigation Ideas

Lake County requests residents input on the five-year update of our Hazard Mitigation Plan, through a public meeting on Tuesday, July 18 at 6pm in the Fall Lake Town Hall.

“The Hazard Mitigation Plan lists the greatest hazards to Lake County, and how we can prevent or reduce their impact to our residents,” said BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Manager. “We use it to figure out where we can best put our time and money to be more prepared and resilient.”   

During the public meeting, recent disasters will be reviewed, along with what was done to respond and recover, and how to possibly mitigate future damages. We’ll look at changing hazard expectations due to technology and climate change, and brainstorm actions that we can take to lessen future impacts in our communities.   

Since our greatest hazard in Lake County has historically been wildfires, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan will also be reviewed during the meeting. Both plans are available on the Lake County website under Emergency Management Department / Plans at:


If you can’t make the meetings, there are two public input surveys on the website under the Hazard Mitigation Plan link. We appreciate any feedback.

“This Plan is built from public knowledge and input,” said Kohlstedt. “We need your good ideas.” 

Contact: BJ Kohlstedt, Director – Lake County Emergency Management,

218-220-7810 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Forest Service seeking comments on future mining projects in the BWCAW watershed

Update to the Jan 18th WICOLA Latest News Post

The U.S. Forest Service made formal its proposal to call a two-year timeout on new mining around the edges of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Forest Service plan, announced in December at the same time the federal government denied critical mineral leases to the Twin Metals copper project near Ely, will prevent any new mining projects or exploration on 234,328 acres in the Superior National Forest.

The proposal was published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017

The Forest Service says the land and water immediately around the BWCAW may be too fragile to withstand potential contamination from copper-nickel mining.

This January 13th action triggers public comment period on agency’s plan to withdraw the land from the federal minerals leasing program.

The Forest Service and the Department of Interior are seeking comments from the public to help them decide on whether they should extend the current two-year moratorium on this dangerous type of mining in the Wilderness watershed for the next 20 years.

The Forest Service states that “Comments are most useful if they refer to an activity or mitigation rather than stated values. For example comments such as ‘This area is used by many people for gathering berries’ can help us inform the analysis more than the comment ‘I do/don’t think you should withdraw federal mineral leases”.

In addition to the public meeting held March 16th at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, the U.S. Forest Service has announced they will be holding two additional public meetings on the proposed long-term protections for the watershed of the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017
    Saint Paul RiverCentre, Exhibit Hall A
    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 4:30 p.m.)
    Map & Directions »
    Tuesday, July 25, 2017
    Virginia High School, Auditorium
    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 4:30 p.m.)
    Map & Directions »

In addition to the public meetings, comments can be sent to (deadline is August 11, 2017):

For more information, go to www.fs.usda.gov/projects/superior/landmanagement/projects and click on “developing proposal.”

PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

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