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A MAGAZINE FOR LAKE AND RIVER LIVING
Places to fish before the fishing opener
Habitat Day offers hands-on, learning opportunities
Meeker County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force steps up its prevention efforts with a lake access inspection program
Addressing the threat of AIS
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Tips for taking a kid fishing so itâ€™s fun
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DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
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SPRING 2017 • Vol. 9, No. 1
PUBLISHED BY Litchfield Independent Review P.O. Box 307, Litchfield, MN 55355 320-693-3266 Hutchinson Leader 170 Shady Ridge Road NW, Suite 100 Hutchinson, MN 55350 320-587-5000 PUBLISHER Brent Schacherer email@example.com 320-234-4143
ADVERTISING Kevin True, advertising director firstname.lastname@example.org 320-234-4141 Sales representatives Paul Becker • 320-234-4147 email@example.com Colleen Piechowski • 320-234-4146 firstname.lastname@example.org Joy Schmitz • 320-234-4140 email@example.com Greg McManus • 320-593-4804 firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Esser • 320-593-4803 email@example.com SUBSCRIPTIONS Michelle Magnuson firstname.lastname@example.org 320-234-4142 PRINTED BY Crow River Press 170 Shady Ridge Road NW Hutchinson, MN 55350 Dockside is published four times a year by the Litchfield Independent Review and Hutchinson Leader newspapers. It is distributed free to lake and river property owners around Litchfield and Hutchinson. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher.
deck: Meeker County AIS Task Force 16 Main launches new inspection program this year to help
prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in local lakes Currents: Boating association urges adults, children to learn rules of operating a boat
EDITOR Juliana Thill email@example.com 320-593-4808 Litchfield office 320-234-4172 Hutchinson office
PHOTO BY PEG BECKSTRAND
Ashore: Eagles return to Minnesota early
5 Currents: Habitat Day offers fun, educational activities 8 Currents: Places to fish before the fishing opener 10 Waterways: Tips for teaching kids how to fish 24 Lake listing: Check the status of your favorite lakes On the cover: Charlene Brooks, Karen Langmo and Mike Solbrack, members of the Meeker County AIS Task Force, meet at Lake Ripley to talk about AIS. SPRING 2017 | DOCKSIDE
elcome back to Dockside! We’re so excited to reconnect with our readers for another year and bring you local information related to lakes and rivers in the area. We have a boatload of information to share with you in this magazine. Our main story is about the Meeker County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force, which is gearing up to launch new preventative efforts. Three of the members are featured on the cover, Charlene Brooks, Karen Langmo and Mike Solbrack. The task force is starting a lake access AIS inspection program this year on several Meeker County lakes. The inspections begin May 6 and run through Labor Day weekend. Read more about their efforts to prevent the spread of AIS and the lakes where inspections will take place. If you’re curious about other lakes in Meeker, McLeod and western Wright counties, check out our list of lakes and their fishery status. We went through and updated the list based on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ LakeFinder information. If you want to know what’s happening in and around your lake, we have a list of area lake associations’ websites and/or Facebook pages that you can search online.
Lake Francis Area Recreation & Conservation Club launched a new website earlier this year, and we have the address updated in our listing. If your lake association adds a website, Facebook page or Twitter account, be sure to let me know so I can include the information in our magazine for readers. On a related note, as you make your to-do list for the cabin or your Juliana Thill lake home this spring, add a Editor reminder to join or renew your membership in your area lake association. Through membership dues, lake association board of directors are able to help preserve and improve the natural resource right outside your door. Or, better yet, contact your lake association and see how you can become involved. We have a list of lake association meetings and events at the end of the magazine. Finally, this magazine would not be possible without the generous support of our advertisers. Please be sure to patronize their business, and thank them for advertising.
CURRENTS Prairie Woods plans free Earth Day Celebration, with activities for all ages
Wright begins work as assistant manager at Sibley State Park
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center will host a free Earth Day Celebration, as well as a Recycled Outdoor Gear Sale on Earth Day, April 22. The Earth Day Celebration will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Prairie Woods, a regional center for environmental education and outdoor recreation in Kandiyohi County. Start the day with a pancake and sausage breakfast for a freewill donation. Stay for the many exhibits, booths, presentations and activities about how to “Green Our Lives.” The main presentation will be the Zoomobile with some live critters at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be available for purchase and 4-H members will sell snacks throughout the day. Also during the celebration, Prairie Woods will have a Recycled Outdoor Gear Sale. People who have gently used fishing, camping, hunting, biking, skiing, boating, paddeling, or outdoor gear can donate it to the sale. Or call Prairie Woods to make arrangements to have items picked up. People who are looking to buy such items can come to the sale to see what others have donated. All proceeds go to youth programs at PWELC. For more information or to donate, call 320-3545894. For information Prairie Woods, go online to www.prairiewoodselc.org.
Colin Wright began working as the new assistant manager at Sibley State Park in February. A native of Spicer, Wright began his Minnesota Department of Natural Resources career as a recipient of the Gary Westby Internship. After completing his degree in environmental studies at University of Minnesota-Duluth, Wright worked at several of Minnesota’s state parks, including Split Rock Lighthouse, Hayes Lake, Charles A. Lindbergh, Tettegouche and, most recently, Whitewater State Park, where Colin Wright he was assistant manager. “I’m excited to return home and work in the park I grew up with,” Wright said. “I’ve been blessed to work at some fantastic sites with some outstanding people, but this move is perfect for me. Sibley State Park is the first state park I spent a lot of time in. I’m passionate about Sibley State Park and the surrounding area.” Sibley State Park, established in 1919, is north of Willmar and west of New London. It is named for Minnesota’s first governor, Henry Hastings Sibley.
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
CURRENTS Habitat Day offers free activities at Litchfield Wetland Management District Children and adults can learn about wildlife and habitat during Habitat Day at Litchfield Wetland Management District. Habitat Day is a free event with hands-on activities and learning opportunities April 8 at Litchfield Wetland Management District office, 22274 615th Ave. Events will run from noon to 4 p.m., when people can build their own bird house or wood duck box (one per family), view educational displays and meet the Wildlife Wizard. Coloring books, posters, and handouts will be available. A water assembly by the Science Museum of Minnesota will run from 12:30 to 1:20 p.m. and again from 2:30 to 3:20 p.m. People can learn about water as a major resource, including how freshwater cycles through the environment and how people affect it through everyday activities. A Pollinators program by the Monarch Lab through the University of Minnesota will take place from 1:30 to 2:20 p.m. People can learn about monarchs, conservation and the role of pollinators across many habitats. From Minnesota Highway 22, turn southwest onto South Ripley Drive and proceed 2.3 miles on South Ripley Drive/615th Avenue. Call 320-693-2849.
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Boating association urges boaters to know rules before season begins Before hitting the water this summer, boat owners can take a boater’s education course. Boater operators have multiple options, from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings.
Minnesota requires children who operate a boat, watercraft unsupervised to have safety certificate in some cases
ust as the rules of the road are learned before getting behind the wheel of a car, the same should be done before getting on a boat and taking the helm. That’s the message from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators along with state, federal and nonprofit partners, which are encouraging boaters to enroll in a boating education course prior to the kickoff of the 2017 boating season. U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate that approximately 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction. Before hitting the water this summer, boat owners can take a boater’s education course. Boaters have multi-
ple options, from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings. “There’s no reason to head out on the water without knowing what you’re doing,” said Stephanie Weatherington, NASBLA president, adding that spring is a good time to take a course before the summer boating season begins. Minnesota requires children ages 12
Spring harvest of light geese begins A spring conservation harvest of light geese opened March 1 and runs through April 30, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Light geese are snow geese, blue-phased snow geese and the smaller Ross’s goose. A federal conservation order permits the taking of light geese during the spring to reduce the population of snow geese and Ross’s geese that breed in Arctic coastal areas and around Hudson Bay. High populations of the birds have caused considerable habitat damage to these fragile ecosystems. The conservation order is authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which allows harvest of specific bird species during times when other waterfowl seasons are closed. Minnesota has participated in this spring conservation harvest each year since 2000, and harvest has varied from a few hundred to several thousand birds each spring. To participate, a spring light goose permit is required and can be obtained wherever Minnesota hunting licenses are sold, via telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. There is a $2.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit. No other license, stamp or permit is required. A summary of regulations is available at mndnr.gov/waterfowl, from license vendors, or by calling the DNR at 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
to 17 years old, unsupervised and operating a boat over 25 horsepower to have a safety certificate. A safety certificate is also needed for anyone ages 14 to 17 and operating a personal watercraft unsupervised. N For a summary of Minnesota’s regulations and available courses, visit: mndnr.gov/boatingsafety. N For more information about the Spring Aboard campaign visit nasbla.org/spring.
Fishing, hunting, trapping licenses can be purchased for 2017-2018 Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2016 expired at the end of February 2017. Licenses for 2017 are available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, online at mndnr.gov/ buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236. All 2017 fishing licenses became effective March 1. Customers who purchase online via a smartphone won’t receive a conventional paper license. Instead, they’ll receive a text message or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. A printed copy of the text or email also can serve as proof of a valid license. License fee dollars support the ongoing work of DNR fish, wildlife and enforcement staff to conserve, enhance and protect our waters, fields and forests. Minnesota State Lottery and Legacy Amendment dollars are not available for the regular costs of doing that work. Learn how the DNR spends license dollars at mndnr.gov/ LicenseDollarsAtWork.
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CURRENTS 2017 Minnesota fishing regulations The 2017 Minnesota Fishing Regulations are online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/index.html. In addition to learning the regulations, check for special fishing regulations that apply to individual waters where you’re fishing. For information about lakes, you can use the DNR’s LakeFinder or LakeFinder Mobile to search for special regulations.
2017 Minnesota fishing dates The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests anglers head to the border waters or rivers and streams that are ice-free if they want to fish before the season opener May 13.
Anglers eager to fish can drop a line before fishing opener
ith ice out early on some lakes, anglers who are eager to hit the open water can take advantage of certain fishing opportunities. So where can you fish right now, before the fishing opener May 13? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests anglers head to the border waters or rivers and streams that are icefree. For starters, there’s the mighty Mississippi River. On the Mississippi where it’s the Minnesota-Wisconsin border water, and Lake Pepin, people can catch and keep walleye, sauger, northern pike, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass all year. On the Mississippi River in Ramsey, Washington, Hennepin and Dakota counties there is a continuous catch-and-release season for walleye, sauger, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass in the following stretches: N Minnesota River downstream from the Mendota Bridge. N Minnehaha Creek downstream from Minnehaha Falls. N Pool 2 of the Mississippi River between the Hastings and Ford dams, including all backwater lakes and connecting waters except Crosby, Pickerel, Upper, Little Pigs Eye and North Star Steel lakes. Walleye fishing also is open all year on Minnesota-North Dakota border waters. On Minnesota-Canada border waters, walleye fishing is open until April 14. In southeast Minnesota, catch-and-release trout fishing is open in streams in Houston, Fillmore, Mower, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Wabasha and Goodhue counties. For new anglers or kids who want to try fishing, seasons for panfish and under-utilized fish are open all year. Check the 2017 Minnesota Fishing Regulations online for details.
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Jan. 1-April 14: Catch-and-release stream trout in southeast streams (Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted,Wabasha and Winona counties) April 1-Nov. 30: Flathead catfish season April 15-Oct. 1: Stream trout season in streams (except southeast Minnesota) April 15-Sept. 14: Stream trout in southeast streams (Dodge, Goodhue, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted,Wabasha and Winona counties) May 13: Minnesota fishing opener for walleye, sauger, northern pike May 13-26: Smallmouth and largemouth bass catch-and-release season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County) May 13-Feb. 25: Smallmouth and largemouth bass season north and east of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls and Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County May 13-Oct. 1: Lake trout summer season May 13-Oct. 31: Stream trout in lakes May 27-Feb. 25: Largemouth bass season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County) May 27-Sept. 10: Smallmouth bass season south and west of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls (except Pelican and Ash lakes in St. Louis County) June 3-Dec. 1: Muskellunge season
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DNR offers free fishing weekends The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers three weekends when fishing is free under certain circumstances: N May 13-14 — Take A Mom Fishing Weekend. Minnesota resident moms fish free. Spring is the best season to catch fish due to the fish being hungry after winter, being more active due to warmer waters and laying their eggs near shore. N June 9-11 — Take A Kid Fishing Weekend. Minnesota residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16. Summer shore fishing is a little more difficult due to thick near-shore vegetation and fish moving to deeper, cooler waters. Try fishing in the early morning or evening, as well as river fishing. N Jan. 13-15, 2018 — Take A Kid Ice Fishing Weekend. Minnesota residents 16 an older fish free with children younger than 16. Winter ice fishing can be a great way to catch crappies and sunfish.
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Tips for taking a kid fishing What can adults do to make fishing fun for kids? For the first times out with kids, focus on short and successful outings. Do some research to find a place where fish populations are high and other opportunities exist when kids get bored, such as playground equipment, rock hunting and climbing, or chasing bugs. It’s even better if there are bathrooms close by. Don’t forget to bring snacks and a camera to capture the excitement of that first fish.
Minnesota residents 16 and older can fish for free with children younger than 16 during Take A Kid Fishing Weekend, June 9-11.
eing part of the excitement when kids catch fish can form memories that last a lifetime. But taking kids fishing can present some unique challenges. Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, knows all about the joys and challenges of taking kids fishing. He started his daughters fishing when they were just over the age of 2. Now, he works with educational programs that help teach kids and others about fishing. Ledermann shares some wisdom on how to connect kids with the outdoors through fishing: 10
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
How important are those first few times a kid goes fishing? The first few times are critical. If a child has a bad experience, it may take a lot of effort to overcome those memories and anxieties. Make it fun and keep outings short. Don’t be afraid to call it a day if they start to get bored, the bugs are bad, or the weather is not good. What are some of the biggest mistakes parents and others make when taking kids fishing? The biggest mistake I see is that parents lose focus on the kids. As much as we all relish the opportunity to wet a line, fishing with young kids means you may have to give up some of your own fishing time. What fishing skills do kids need the most help with? New anglers of all ages need lots of help figuring out how to use fishing equipment. Be sure to demonstrate to them how rods and reels work and give them lots of opportunity to practice. Casting in the yard at hula hoops or other targets is a great way to get kids excited about fishing. The biggest mistake that young anglers make is not keeping a tight line while playing a fish. Teach them to keep their rod tip up. You can make it easier for kids by giving them a rod that is the right size for them. A rod that has a lighter action or more flex also provides more room for error and kids will be less likely to break off. Also be sure to check the drag on the reel so they can manage a larger fish if they catch one.
What safety pointers should people remember? Safety should be your highest priority. Be mindful of the dangers of being on or near the water. Wearing a lifejacket is the law for kids under age 10 and a really good practice for everyone when in a boat. The other big safety concern while fishing is hooks. That risk multiplies when lots of people are casting. If I have lots of kids in a boat, I minimize casting by having them fish right off the side of the boat or slowly troll the weed edges with small spinners and jigs. For older kids, spinnerbaits are great for casting as the hook is less exposed. I would avoid any casting with treble hooks until kids have more experience. Any tips for what kinds of fish to try for and what gear to use? Catching bluegills or bullheads is a great way to start fishing with kids. In many lakes these fish are abundant, but also small. If you use light line and small hooks with live bait, you will have a good chance at success. How do you choose where to fish with a kid? Ask at bait stores, surf the many fishing blogs on the web or ask other anglers where they would recommend taking kids fishing. What should you pack to bring a kid fishing? Bring enough items so that you’re prepared for all kinds of weather, and distractions if fishing gets tough or kids get bored. Bring what you think will help make the outing fun. A positive attitude is probably the most important. Your enthusiasm for fishing will rub off on them. Where can people learn more? Adults who want to learn more before taking a kid fishing can find answers to common fishing questions, download a beginner’s guide to fishing, and find a place to fish at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.
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eveloping a rhythm of smooth casts over a peaceful stream and catching fish might be goals for the beginner fly angler, but an experienced instructor can help turn initial flailing into finesse. Registration is open for an event that teaches the basics of fly fishing to pairs of youths and adults June 24 near Lanesboro, Minnesota. “The youth and adults are both beginners, so they can struggle and laugh and grow together,” said Deb Groebner, a regional specialist with MinnAqua, an educational program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Fly fishing lets you catch a variety of fish species and after this class the participants will be ready to fish on their own in lakes, ponds and streams.” To participate, youth must be 11 to 17 years old as of June 2, and each youth-adult pair must have less than 10 hours of fly-fishing experience between them. Registration fee is $130 per pair and includes meals, lodging, guiding services, equipment and materials. This event is limited to 20 youth-adult pairs. For information, contact Groebner at 507-359-6049.
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ASHORE Donations to DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program help with recovery of eagles, loons, other animals The eagles have landed, or hatched, and just in time for the 40th anniversary of the state’s Nongame Wildlife Program, which is part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. This year, three eaglets are being viewed around the world as they’re raised by a banded female that returns to the same nest annually. The EagleCam on the DNR’s website is one of the ways the program helps wildlife conservation and species recovery efforts in Minnesota. The DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program streams live video of a nesting pair of bald eagles on its website at www.mndnr.gov/eaglecam. Forty years ago, there were few bald eagles left in the U.S. The Nongame Wildlife Program was instrumental in helping with recovery efforts by the donating 55 chicks to other states. Today, there are more than 10,000 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The Nongame Wildlife Program is celebrating this achievement alongside many other success stories throughout its 40year history. Most notable are the recovery of the trumpeter swan, osprey, peregrine falcon, eastern bluebird and Minnesota’s state bird, the loon. These species are thriving again because of donations, bequests and, especially, contributions through the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/nongame/donate/ind ex.html.
Nongame wildlife support To support the Nongame Wildlife Program, look for the line with a loon symbol on your Minnesota tax form (M-1) or property tax form (M1-PR).Write in the amount of money you want to donate. If you are entitled to a refund, your refund is reduced by the amount of the donation, and your donation is tax deductible on the following year’s tax return if you itemize deductions. If you owe money, your donation is added to the balance due.
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
PHOTO BY PEG BECKSTRAND
Peg Beckstrand of Litchfield spotted eagles nesting near Big Swan Lake, about three miles north of Dassel.Adult bald eagles are identified by a white head and tail contrasting with a dark brown body. Bald eagles attain full adult plumage in their fourth or fifth year.
Bald eagles migrate back to Minnesota earlier
ald eagles are migrating back to Minnesota and may be seen in large numbers across parts of the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The spring eagle migration usually coincides with ice-out. A warm February melted much of the snow cover, and ice is breaking up along the rivers, said DNR regional Nongame Wildlife specialist Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer. “Because of that, this year’s migration appears to be a couple weeks earlier, so folks in southern Minnesota will be seeing eagles soon, even with the last remnants of winter,” she said. “We’re already seeing small groups of eagles along the Minnesota River.” In 2005, researchers estimated there are more than 1,300 active nests in Minnesota. Fall migration typically occurs as lakes and rivers freeze over, since most eagles prefer a diet of fish. Bald eagle wintering grounds ideally contain open water, ample food, limited human disturbance
and protected roosting sites. Not all bald eagles migrate southward in the fall, GelvinInnvaer said. In many areas in Minnesota, it’s common for some eagle pairs to stay the winter, especially during milder winters and wherever there is open water. “This year’s winter was a bit milder,” she said. “There were fewer subzero nights and not as much snow on the ground as some other years. That should have made for an easier winter for them to find food.” Bald eagles that stay local can begin courting and nesting as early as December or January. Other bald eagles return to their breeding territories as soon as a food source is available. In Minnesota, the biggest migrations tend to be along the Minnesota River, the north shore of Lake Superior and around Lake Pepin in southeastern Minnesota. For information on bald eagles and where to view them, go to www.mndnr.gov/birds/eagles/ winter_wabasha.html.
ASHORE Detroit Lakes hosts Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit through April 9 Becker County Historical Society is hosting the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit through April 9. The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the Becker County Historical Society & Museum, 714 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes. Admission is free. Water/Ways is a traveling exhibition and community engagement initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit addresses water — environmentally, culturally and historically. It is meant to bring people together to discuss an issue central to the community. In Minnesota, Water/Ways is led by the Minnesota Humanities Center in partnership with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Historical Society, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Health, Minnesota section of the American Water Works Association, and six greater Minnesota communities. This is the last exhibit in Minnesota, after having visited New London/Spicer, St. Peter, Lanesboro, Red Wing and Sandstone. After the stop in Detroit Lakes, the Water/Ways exhibit moves to Sheridan, Wyoming and then Eufaula, Alabama.
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Support the outdoors: Minnesota state parks and trails need boost from users, taxpayers By Tom Landwehr
he Department of Natural Resources is asking for modest fee and general fund increases for Minnesota’s state parks and trails system during the 2017 legislative session, and I want you to know why it’s important to make an investment in these special places. For more than 125 years, Minnesota’s state parks, trails and public water accesses have served as an outstanding asset to Minnesotans and visitors to our state, providing recreational access; activities and programs; support to local economies; and the ability to simply take a break from everyday life during all four seasons. They are also core pillars of the state’s $13.6 billion tourism industry, playing host to some 10.3 million park visitors and 1.8 million summer trail users. Local spending in Greater Minnesota communities from park visitors is approximately $25.50 per person, per day, totaling $246 million each year. In our 75 parks and along thousands of miles of trails, Minnesotans can experience the peace and wellbeing associated with fresh air, exercise, and the sights and sounds of our natural resources. In my humble opinion, a day on the lake — canoeing, recreational boating, or fishing — is nature’s best form of stress management. But even natural beauty requires maintenance. Without careful management and upkeep, the woods, prairies and waterways would fill with invasive species, while time and the elements would reclaim the buildings, trails, boat access ramps, and roads in our parks. Maintaining state parks and trails is a huge job for the DNR, with 75 state parks and recreation areas; 60 state multi-purpose and water trails; thousands of miles of user-supported snowmobile and off-highway vehicle
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
Tom Landwehr COMMISSIONER, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
trails; and more than 2,000 boat ramps and fishing piers. Managing these assets is like running 75 small cities and thousands of miles of narrow roadways. Throughout our long and proud history, these facilities and services have been funded through a combination of tax dollars and modest user fees. A core value of Minnesota’s system has been to provide open or low-cost access to these recreational resources so all people could enjoy them. While the popularity of the state parks has been increasing annually — for example, demand for single-day vehicle entrance permits has increased 34 percent since 2012 — the majority of user fees have remained stagnant for more than a decade. To help bridge the funding gap, we have had to shorten camping seasons, decrease office hours, and reduce the frequency of trail maintenance and grooming. These stop-gaps need a sustainable fix, especially at a time when visitor numbers and expectations are rising. Warmer weather prompts more – not fewer – visits to state parks, trails and boat accesses. Customers want DNR to extend seasons, not shorten them. At current funding levels, we simply do not have the resources to meet that demand. What we can do is this: seek a permanent general fund (tax dollars) adjustment to replace the previous one-time fixes to the Parks and Trails budget and ask users to pay a little more in fees. About 85 percent of DNR funding comes from user fees,
sales of licenses and permits, and dedicated funds from the Legacy Amendment and the State Lottery. If the governor’s proposals to increase outdoor recreation user fees and general fund support aren’t approved by the Legislature, Minnesotans and out-of-state visitors will see further reductions in the amenities and services the state parks and trails system can provide. In practical terms, this means state park campgrounds open for significantly fewer days; diminished outdoor recreation grant funding for local governments; substantial cuts to trail grooming and repairs; and noticeably longer wait-times for dock maintenance and water level adjustments at boating access sites. Here is our proposal: N A year’s worth of family fun in our state parks would increase by about the cost of a bag of cooler ice ($5/annually; $1/daily). N Registration fee increases for ATVs ($5/year), snowmobiles ($10/year), and boats ($1-15/year depending on watercraft size) would increase by less than the cost of a few gallons of gas. N The cross-country ski pass would increase less than the cost of a block of ski wax ($5/annually; $2/daily). Even with these increases, Minnesota’s state parks and trails will continue to be a great value. Compared to the price of taking a family of four to a movie ($35 or more, not including popcorn) or an amusement park ($100 plus), our state parks and trails will remain an accessible option for family fun all across the state. Minnesota has a strong tradition of publicly supporting outdoor recreation. I hope you will share your support for the outdoors — and these modest fee increases — with your family, friends and those who represent you in the state Legislature. For more information, visit mndnr.gov/supportoutdoors.
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Meeker County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force will launch a new inspection program in May at six county lakes to help prevent the spread of AIS
PHOTO BY JULIANA THILL
Charlene Brooks, Karen Langmo and Mike Solbrack serve on the Meeker County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force, which was established in 2014.
Taking action against AIS 16
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
efore boaters launch their watercraft in a Meeker County lake this year, their boat might have to pass an inspection for aquatic invasive species. A new inspection program, which the Meeker County AIS Task Force will start in May, will have trained inspectors stationed at public access sites on six Meeker County lakes to check boats going into and coming out of the water. “The goal is to not spread AIS to lakes By Juliana Thill that don’t have it,” said Mike Solbrack, EDITOR vice chairman of the Meeker County AIS Task Force. In addition to inspections, the task force is looking to educate people on the importance of being aware of AIS and knowing how to prevent spreading it. Aquatic invasive species are animals and plants that are not native to Minnesota and are introduced either on purpose or by accident. Their presence can cause environmental and economic harm, or harm to human health. AIS pose an ongoing threat to a lake because AIS cannot be eliminated. The inspections in Meeker County will begin the weekend of May 6, which is the weekend before the fishing opener (May 13), and run through Labor Day, Sept. 4. The plan is to have
MAIN DECK the public accesses staffed 12 hours a day, Friday through Sunday at lakes Francis, Manuella, Minnie Belle, Ripley, Stella and Washington. These lakes were chosen because the DNR has them rated as recreational lakes, said Karen Langmo, chairwoman of the Meeker County AIS Task Force. The task force started a watercraft inspection program on Lake Francis in 2016 and provided funds to the Crow River Organization of Water to manage the inspections. CROW worked with Anchor Dock & Lift of Annandale to supervise hiring and scheduling inspectors. This agreement will be expanded and followed on the six lakes this year. “Every year, it’s been an adaptive program so we can respond to the changing environment,” said Charlene Brooks, water resource specialist with CROW. Because of the discovery of zebra mussels and starry stonewort in Meeker County lakes in the past several years, “the (inspection) program is changing. It has to,” Brooks said. Meeker County is home to 170 lakes. As of November 2016, nine of those lakes have infestations of Eurasian water milfoil (Clear, Erie, Little Mud, Manuella, Minnie Belle, Ripley, Stella, Washington, Wolf); two infestations of zebra mussels (Stella and Washington); and one infestation of starry stonewort (Koronis). In addition, several of Meeker County’s large recreational lakes share a border with neighboring counties, including Cedar Lake (McLeod), Belle Lake (McLeod), Lake Francis (Wright), Lake Koronis (Stearns), and Collinwood (Wright). Anchor Dock & Lift already performs AIS inspections at boat access sites in Wright County and has experience with the process, Langmo said. “There are a lot of people who don’t like the inconvenience of having their boat inspected,” Langmo said, but it’s becoming part of the responsibility of owning a boat and using a lake. “If I go fly in an airplane, I have to get inspected. I have to go through security. You just get used to this is the way it is. It’s becoming the new norm,” Langmo said. “It’s very much our responsibility to try to prevent it (AIS).”
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources watercraft inspector and a boater check under a boat for aquatic invasive species. DNR-trained inspectors will be at six Meeker County lakes this summer to examine boats and educate boaters. Langmo, Solbrack and Brooks have been with the task force since its inception. Langmo runs Langmo Farms with her husband and lives in Litchfield. They own land on Lake Koronis, which has about 170 Meeker County properties on the lake. She also is a member of the Koronis Lake Association. Solbrack, a Litchfield dentist, lives on the west shore of Lake Ripley and is a member of Lake Ripley Improvement Association. Brooks is a non-voting advisory task force member.
Getting started The task force has been working for about three years on AIS related-projects. The state Legislature granted funding in May 2014. In July 2014, $5 million was distributed to Minnesota’s 87 counties. In 2015 and thereafter, that amount increased to $10 million. The distribution of funds is based on the number of watercraft trailer launches and the number of watercraft trailer parking spaces in each county. So in the Brainerd lakes area, Solbrack said, those counties receive more funding than counties in southern Minnesota where there are fewer lakes, trailer launches and trailer parking spaces.
With 41 watercraft trailer launches and 604 watercraft trailer parking spaces, Meeker County received about $111,500 in 2014, about half the amount of subsequent years since the program started after half of the year was over. Since then, the county has received about $240,000 each year. Meeker County created the AIS Task Force, which started meeting in the fall of 2014. Each of Meeker County’s five commissioners chose one person from his or her district to serve on the task force. In addition to Langmo and Solbrack, committee members include Leo Bauer of Lake Manuella, Gene Putzier of Lake Stella, Steve Plaisance of Big Swan Lake, Michael Lies of Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Eden Valley, and Meeker County commissioners Mike Huberty and Mike Housman. Nonvoting advisory members include Brooks, Timothy Plude of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Meeker County employees Kristin Cote from Planning and Zoning, Sheriff Brian Cruze, Administrator Paul Virnig, and Joe Norman of the Soil Water Conservation District. The task force spent its first six months creating a detailed management plan that is updated annually. However, one area has been shifted
SPRING 2017 | DOCKSIDE
MAIN DECK to higher priority. “When we originally wrote this plan, inspections weren’t really on the table,” Brooks said.
Priorities change The task force’s priorities changed quickly two years ago. “We didn’t have zebra mussels before,” Solbrack said. “Or starry stonewort,” Langmo added. Having both of those, “that was a game changer,” Solbrack said. “There was none in Meeker County, and all of a sudden we have zebra mussels and starry stonewort, and we’ve got to try to do something.” Lake Stella and Lake Washington were designated as infested with zebra mussels in August 2015. Zebra mussels, which were brought to the Great Lakes from Europe in the ballast water of ships, are small, fingernail-sized animals that attach to solid surfaces in water. They eat tiny food particles in the water, which can reduce available food for larval fish and other animals, and cause aquatic vegetation to grow as a result of increased water clarity. Zebra mussels also can attach to and smother native mussels, according to the DNR. “Zebra mussels have been around Minnesota for 20 years or more, and they didn’t really go anywhere. And then all of a sudden Mille Lacs got it, and Green Lake got it, and St. Cloud area lakes and Minnetonka got it,” Solbrack said, and then it spread, “because people are going in and out of those lakes all the time.” Starry stonewort was first confirmed in Minnesota in Lake Koronis in August 2015. In August 2016, it was confirmed in several north-central Minnesota lakes. Starry stonewort is a grass-like algae that is not native to Minnesota. Starry stonewort can interfere with recreational and other uses of lakes where it can produce dense mats at the water’s surface and displace native aquatic plants. “I think with starry stonewort, the magnitude of what it can do to a lake is overwhelming,” Langmo said. “You don’t get rid of it. It’s very difficult to manage because it’s not a rooted plant, it’s an algae. It’s more powerful than
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
PHOTO BY JULIANA THILL
Signs alert boaters about aquatic invasive species at Lake Stella. Eurasian milfoil. It absolutely takes over everything, and it affects fish spawning.” “They don’t call it a lake killer for no reason,” Brooks added.
Luxury taken for granted While AIS is spreading, most lakes in the state and Meeker have not been affected, and the task force would like to keep it that way. “Some people think it’s inevitable, that AIS is everywhere, and so they’re not going to do anything because of that,” Solbrack said. “But the way I look at it, there’s still 95 percent of the lakes that don’t have any AIS, and that’s a lot of lakes.” The goal, he said, is to not spread AIS because any lakes that have been infested, such as with zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil or curly leaf pondweed, have never eradicated it. “All the popular lakes are getting it, and it’s all showing up at the accesses. So, what does that tell you? Right now the only thing we can do is not spread it, and some of the public just doesn’t seem to get that. There’s a personal responsibility of not spreading the stuff,” Solbrack said. Brooks agreed, saying education is key. There are some people who “truly do not understand the impact that they can potentially have. That person who
brought starry stonewort into Koronis had no idea that it would start wiping stuff out,” Brooks said. “It’s really helpful for people to understand that it’s a privilege for us to be able to take our boats any place we want,” she said. “It’s part of the culture here, where it’s almost taken for granted. There are some parts of the country where it’s managed more strictly. So, people need to understand the luxury we have for clean water and pristine environments are essentially are at risk just by people who aren’t taking the time to do what they need to. Let’s use the tools we have at hand to keep it at bay. There are very few lakes in the grand picture that have invasive species. We are doing something to change the cultural norm in how we treat our water.”
Inspection process When boaters arrive at one of the six designated Meeker County lakes, they will be greeted by a level 1 AIS inspector, who has been trained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The inspector will ask specific questions such as where the boater is coming from, how long the boat has been out of water, and the inspector will examine the watercraft for AIS. “When someone comes to a landing with a boat or personal watercraft,
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MAIN DECK they are required to have it inspected. The inspector cannot get in the boat without permission, so there are some boundaries,” Brooks said. As the inspector is looking over the boat, he or she will try to educate the boater about AIS. “If an individual comes to an access site with invasives on their boat, if it’s a plant that can easily be removed by hand, the inspector will work with the individual boater to mitigate for that, and they can go on their way,” Brooks said. “If, however, the invasive is a zebra mussel that cannot be removed, or if the boater is highly aggressive, the inspector can turn that person away and prevent them from being able to launch that day,” Brooks said. If the situation becomes heated, the inspectors can call 911 for law enforcement back up, she added. “They can’t launch if there’s an invasive that can’t be removed. If a person is turned away because their boat is in need of decontamination, the person will be given a day permit to transport their boat from one location to the next to get it take care of — because it is illegal to have any invasive plants or animals on your boat when you’re on public roads,” Brooks said. The whole inspection process should take a matter of minutes. “So, we really want people to be tolerant of our inspectors this summer, and treat them with respect. It only takes a few minutes, and then you’re on your way,” Solbrack said. This type of inspection is common on lakes that Solbrack has visited in northern Minnesota. Inspectors keep track of information on iPads, and the data is collected into a DNR database and reviewed. A report can be generated showing, for example, the number of boats inspected, whether they were outgoing or incoming, the number of boats inspected per hour, where the boats came from, what lake they were at prior to arriving, what was learned with each inspection, and any problems that arose.
Preventative approach People who use local lakes aren’t always local residents, Solbrack said, as the use of cell phones, texting and
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
To prevent the spread of AIS N Clean weeds and debris from your boats and removed any attached zebra mussels. N Drain your boat, livewells and baitwells, and keep all drain plugs out while traveling. N Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. N Dry docks, lifts, swim rafts and other equipment for at least 21 days before placing equipment into another water body.
By law, people cannot: N Transport watercraft without removing the drain plug. N Arrive at a lake access with drain plug in place. N Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels or other prohibited species on any roadway. N Launch a watercraft with prohibited species attached. N Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers. N Release bait into the water.
the internet increases. “When people are out on the lake and their buddy is on a different lake and he’s catching fish, they’re loading up and heading over there right now,” Solbrack said. “There are people who go to multiple lakes in one day. It depends where the fish are biting,” Langmo said. The task force realizes their preventative efforts will not completely stop AIS from spreading, but they believe that taking preventative measures and educating people should help slow the spread. “You could look at the inspection program as preventative medicine and education,” Langmo said. Just like a person goes in for an annual check up at the doctor, it doesn’t mean the person won’t get cancer, Langmo said. “You go in because you want to try to catch it or prevent it. That’s how I look at the inspection program.” AIS inspections are becoming the norm now, Langmo said, especially in northern Minnesota’s lake area. “Wright County has an inspection program. I’m from Koronis, and we’ve had an inspection program through
When transporting boats in Minnesota, the plug must be open so water can drain. Motorists can be fined if they are caught driving with a plug in the boat.
the watershed there. There are three lakes that are part of the inspection program, and that’s been since summer of 2013.” Since the inspection program will not be 24 hours a day, seven days a week, “we’re not going to catch everybody,” Solbrack said. However, lake associations can piggy back on the program and offer inspections, as well, Langmo said. “Lake Minnie Belle wants to continue inspections into the month of September. So, they’re using grant money and some of their own funds for that.” Lake Minnie Belle is a popular fall fishing lake, Solbrack said, so it makes sense to continue inspections while it’s being heavily used. “I think we’re all kind of hoping that the research and the science catches up to it (AIS), and someday they figure something out. Because once you’ve got AIS, you’ve got it. No one has ever eradicated it (from a lake),” Solbrack said. I People interested in applying for a job as an AIS inspector can contact AIS coordinator Chip Purcell at 320274-6500.
WATERWAYS Owners of resorts, campgrounds, rental businesses must take AIS training
he Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering aquatic invasive species training to owners of lake service provider businesses, so they can legally work in lakes and rivers throughout the state. Lake service provider businesses include resorts, outfitters and campgrounds that rent or lease boats and other water-related equipment. Business owners must attend training, apply for a permit and pay a $50 application fee every three years to comply with Minnesota law. When the law and permit began in 2012, it applied only to some resorts and outfitters, along with businesses such as marinas, dock haulers, lawn irrigators and others who install or remove equipment from state waters for hire, said April Rust, DNR aquatic invasive species training coordinator. The law was updated in 2013 to include any businesses that rent any
AIS training available Remaining in-person permit training dates: N April 6 — 3 to 5 p.m. at Thumper Pond Resort, Community of Minnesota Resorts spring meeting, Ottertail. N April 25 — 1to 3 p.m. at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Duluth. N May 2 — 1 to 3 p.m. at DNR state headquarters in St. Paul.
type of boats or other water-related equipment. “That means resorts and campgrounds that offer equipment to their guests like pontoons, fishing boats or kayaks and canoes as a part of their stay, need training on AIS and this permit,” she said. Eleven AIS training sessions are
planned around the state starting this month, and a new online training will be available in March. Training is offered in winter to give businesses time to attend training and get a permit before ice-out. Registration deadlines for in-person training are one week prior to each training. A listing all 2017 training sessions is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/lsp/calendar. Overall, Minnesotans are doing a good job of helping to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Less than 5 percent of Minnesota lakes are on the infested waters list. To register for training or for more information, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/lsp. Lake service provider businesses need aquatic invasive species training and a permit every three years. To find out if your business is a lake service provider, go online to www.dnr. state.mn.us/lsp/mandatory.html.
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Alaska Surimi Seafood Breakfast Bake SOURCE: WWW.CULINARY.NET
Caramelized Bourbon Bacon Cook time: 30 minutes
2 packages (16 ounces each) Smithfield Thick Cut Bacon 4 tablespoons honey 1/2 cup bourbon 4 tablespoons maple syrup Heat oven to 375. Line two baking pans with parchment paper. Remove bacon from package and space evenly on pans without overlapping slices. Place pans in oven and bake 15 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through baking time. Meanwhile, combine honey, bourbon and syrup. Remove bacon from oven. Carefully drain grease from pans. Brush bacon with bourbon mixture. Return to oven and bake 3-5 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve. Makes 12 servings.
Preparation time: 10 minutes â€˘ Cook time 20 minutes
1 large bell pepper, cut into strips 2 cups sliced mushrooms 1 can (4 ounces) sliced black olives, drained 1/3 cup sliced green onions 12 ounces Alaska Surimi Seafood (Imitation Crab) 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons Cajun, Creole or Mexican seasoning 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby Jack or Mexican cheese blend, divided 8 eggs 3/4 cup water Preheat oven to 400. Spray coat 9- to 10-inch baking dish. Place peppers, mushrooms, olives and green onions in baking dish. Sprinkle seasoning over Alaska Surimi Seafood; stir to coat. Add surimi and 3/4 cup cheese to baking dish. Blend eggs and water; pour over surimi. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until puffed and center is firm. Makes four to six servings.
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Cook barley according to package directions, or in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for about 35 to 45 minutes until it is plump and tender, and still slightly chewy. Drain and cool. Tenderize kale by blanching it in boiling water for 2 to 3 seconds or cooking in the microwave for 1 minute. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and squeeze dry. Fluff and uncrimp dry kale pieces with your fingers. In a medium bowl, mix together barley, kale, grapes, salmon and walnuts. To prepare dressing: In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Gradually mix in olive oil. Pour onto salad and fold gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Makes six servings. SOURCE: WWW.CULINARY.NET
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Area lakes offer numerous opportunities People use local bodies of water to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming and more
he Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website provides a wealth of information about lakes in Minnesota. The website allows people to search a specific lake at www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind. The following lake listing is based on information the DNR provided on its website in spring 2017. Some information is current, however some lake surveys are as old as 2005. Due to space limitations, we combined all of the fish species from local lakes into one list. To find out what species are in a specific lake, search the DNR’s website listed above. The following fish have been found in one or more of the lakes listed: banded killifish, black bullhead, black crappie, blackchin shiner, blacknose shiner, bluegill, bigmouth buffalo, bluntnose minnow, bowfin (dogfish), brook silverside, brook stickleback, brown bullhead, central mudminnow, channel catfish, common carp, common shiner, creek chub, emerald shiner, fathead minnow, flathead catfish, freshwater drum, golden redhorse, golden shiner, greater redhorse, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, Iowa darter, Johnny darter, largemouth bass, least darter, Lepomis sp., logperch, minnows, northern pike, orangespotted sunfish, pumpkinseed, rainbow trout, rock bass, sand shiner, shiners, shorthead redhorse, silver redhorse, smallmouth bass, smallmouth buffalo, spotfin shiner, spottail shiner, tadpole madtom, tullibee (cisco), walleye, white crappie, white sucker, yellow bullhead, yellow perch.
DOCKSIDE | SPRING 2017
PHOTOS BY JULIANA THILL
On a breezy spring day, anglers cast a line from the shore into Lake Ripley, located on the southwest end of Litchfield.
Allie is four miles north of the city of Buffalo Lake in Renville County. A county park with fishing pier and campsites is on the west shore. A concrete DNR boat access ramp is on the southeast shore. Oakdale Golf Club is on the north shore. Status of the fishery: A standard survey (summer gill netting and trap netting) was conducted in 2015 to evaluate the lake’s fish population. Walleye were the primary management species, while northern pike, black crappie, and bluegill were listed as secondary management species in the lake management plan.
Seven miles north of Hutchinson, Belle straddles Meeker and McLeod counties. The lake offers Piepenberg Park on the southeast side with a fishing pier, camp sites, fishing pond, county-owned concrete boat access ramp on the southeast shore and a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the east shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2013 to monitor the lake’s fish community. The current Lake Management Plan listed walleye and black crappie as primary management species while northern pike were listed as a secondary species.
Lake Arvilla is five miles north of Dassel and near Kingston in Meeker County. It offers a DNR concrete boat access ramp and dock on the north shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2009 to evaluate the lake’s fish population. Sixteen species of fish were sampled, plus hybrid sunfish.
About three miles north of Dassel and south of Kingston, Big Swan offers public access at the DNR concrete ramp along the north shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted on Big Swan Lake in 2013 to monitor the fish population. The lake is primarily managed for black crappie, northern pike, and walleye and to a lesser extent for channel catfish.
LAKE LISTING Brooks This small, shallow lake located within the city limits of Cokato in western Wright County has a boat ramp, fishing pier, playground and park on its east side. Status of the fishery: A lake survey in June 2005 was the first lake survey since 1983, although a population assessment was conducted in 1989. Invasive species: curly leaf pondweed.
Clear Located between Forest City and Watkins in Meeker County, Clear Lake offers a county park on the southeast shore with a fishing pier and concrete plank boat ramp. A second DNR boat access on the north shore has a parking area and concrete plank ramp. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2013 to monitor the lake’s fish population. The Lake Management Plan listed northern pike, black crappie, and walleye as primary management species, while bluegill were listed as a secondary species. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed.
Cokato This lake is about three miles north of Cokato in Wright County and has a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the east side. Status of the fishery: The lake is primarily managed for walleye and smallmouth bass with walleye fry being stocked every other year since
2006. Overall, the abundance of walleye and northern pike increased since the last survey in 2007, whereas black crappie decreased and bluegill remained low. Smallmouth bass and channel catfish are present due to the outlet to the North Fork Crow River.
Collinwood Three miles southwest of Cokato, Collinwood Lake in Wright County offers a 308-acre regional park with 49-unit campground with electricity, showers, five miles of trails, boat ramp, fishing pier and swimming beach on the east shore. A DNR concrete ramp is also available on the south shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2014 to monitor the fish population. Eleven species were sampled in the gill nets and trap nets.
Dunns Two miles northeast of Litchfield, Dunns Lake offers a concrete boat access ramp on the north shore. Dunns Lake offers an aquatic management area on the southeast side for shore and wader fishing and a concrete boat access ramp on the southwest shore. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2008 to evaluate the lake’s physical, chemical, biological characteristics. Twelve species of fish were sampled, plus hybrid sunfish.
East Lake Sylvia East Lake Sylvia and West Lake Sylvia are about three miles south of
South Haven in western Wright County. West Lake Sylvia has a DNR access on the southwest side of the Lake. A navigable channel connects the two lakes. Status of the fishery: East and West Sylvia Lakes are connected by a wide, navigable channel. The lakes are primarily managed for walleye and northern pike. The last survey was done in 2008. Invasive species: zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil.
Erie Four miles south of Darwin in Meeker County, Erie has deep spots and shallow bays. It offers a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the south shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2014 to monitor the fish population. Eleven species, plus hybrid sunfish, were sampled in the gill nets and trap nets. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil.
Francis Two miles northeast of Kingston in Meeker County, Lake Francis offers public access on the northwest shore. Status of the fishery: A standard survey (summer gill netting and trap netting) was conducted at Francis Lake in 2015, to evaluate the fish population. Northern pike, bluegill, and largemouth bass were primary management species, while black crappie and walleye were listed as secondary management species in the lake management plan.
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LAKE LISTING Eleven species, plus hybrid sunfish, were sampled in the gill nets and trap nets.
French (Annandale) Three miles southwest of Annandale in Wright County, this lake offers a public access on the northwest shore. Status of the fishery: The lake is primarily managed for walleye and northern pike, but bluegill, black crappie, white crappie and largemouth bass are also present. Historically, walleye have been managed by fingerling stocking. Since 2003, the lake has been part of a statewide walleye stocking study evaluating the effectiveness of stocking walleye fry, frylings and fingerlings. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil
French (Hutchinson) French Lake in McLeod County is north of Hutchinson. The DNR has a culvert access. Stahls Lake, which is adjacent to French, has a cement plank ramp with parking area on the south east side. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2008 to evaluate the lakeâ€™s physical, chemical, biological characteristics. Fourteen species of fish were sampled, plus hybrid sunfish.
Greenleaf One mile east of Greenleaf in Meeker County, the lake offers a DNR ramp on the southwest shore and fishing pier at the public access. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted on Greenleaf Lake in 2012 to monitor the fish population.
Hook Four miles northeast of Hutchinson in McLeod County, Hook offers a DNR concrete plank ramp and parking area on the east shore. Status of the fishery: Prior to the standard survey (summer gill netting and trap netting) in 2015, a winterkill check was performed during the spring of 2014. Hundreds of Common Carp, many Black Crappie, and some walleye were observed dead near
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Anglers visit Collinwood Lake, three miles southwest of Cokato. The lake has a boat ramp, fishing pier and swimming beach on the east shore. A DNR concrete ramp is available on the south shore. shore. The conclusion was the winterkill in 2014 was likely moderate to severe. Following this conclusion, 648 adult black crappie (162 pounds) were stocked. In addition, 162,138 walleye fry were also stocked. Bluegill stocking was also planned for 2014, but because of limited time they were not stocked until spring 2015, during which time 990 adult bluegill (180 lbs.) were stocked. Walleye fry (162,000) were again stocked in 2015, in accordance with management plans.
Jennie Four miles south of Dassel in Meeker County, Lake Jennie offers two access sites. The one on the north shore has a concrete ramp and dock. The one on the southwest shore has two concrete ramps, one dock and toilet. A fishing pier was moved to the landing from an aquatic management area on the south shore. Shore fishing is possible from a path and benches near the landing. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2014 to monitor the fish population.
Just south of Paynesville, this large lake primarily in southern Stearns County, with parts in Meeker and Kandiyohi counties has five access sites, including two township sites. The remaining three are run by DNR, county and city. The Highway 55 access on the west side offers two concrete ramps, a dock and toilet. The lake park site on the northeast side of the lake has a ramp and dock. The county regional park on the southwest shore offers a concrete ramp, dock and toilet. The DNR has two concrete ramps on the east and north shores. A county ramp is on the west shore. A city ramp is on the east shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in late July of 2014. Koronis is a popular fishery for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, black crappie, tullibee and bluegill. Rice Lake is upstream and connects to Lake Koronis via the North Fork of the Crow River. Walleye from both Rice and Koronis spawn in the North Fork of the Crow River upstream of Rice Lake. Koronis is managed primarily for walleye and northern pike, in addition to secondary species such as bluegill, yellow perch, tullibee, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and black crappie.The Koronis fishery was surveyed in 2015 and will be surveyed again in 2017 for a population assessment. Invasive species: starry stonewort.
Little Mud About three miles south of Watkins in Meeker County, Little Mud Lake has a public access on the west shore of this small lake. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2009 to evaluate the lakeâ€™s physical, chemical, biological characteristics. Little Mud Lake is primarily managed as a put-and-take rainbow trout fishery, receiving a fall and a spring stocking of yearlings each year. Approximately 3,000 fish are stocked in the spring and 1,500
LAKE LISTING fish are stocked in the fall, offering a unique opportunity for area anglers. Seven species of fish were sampled during the survey, plus hybrid sunfish. Designation as a â€œstream trout lakeâ€? was removed in the early 2000s, to simplify regulations so anglers could more easily exploit black crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass and rainbow trout populations. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil.
black crappie were listed as a secondary species. Fish populations can fluctuate greatly depending on the frequency and severity of winterkill. Walleye were last stocked in 1994 and a substantial fishery has not existed since the mid-1990s. Long Lakeâ€™s habitat (abundant submergent vegetation and sandy shores) is better suited for bluegill and largemouth bass. Invasive species: curly leaf pondweed.
Long (Grove City)
Two miles northeast of Dassel in Meeker County, Long Lakes offers boat access ramp on the south side of the lake. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2013 to monitor the lakeâ€™s chemical, physical, and biological characteristics. The current Lake Management Plan listed largemouth bass and bluegill as primary management species while northern pike and
Three miles southeast of Grove City, Long Lake has a concrete boat access ramp on the northwest shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted at Long Lake near Grove City in 2014 to monitor the fish population. Five species were sampled in the gill nets and trap nets. Long Lake has an extended history of winterkill.
Winterkill assessments concluded that partial winterkills, of varying severity, occurred in 2010, 2013, and 2014. This frequency of winterkill, three-out-of-five years (60 percent), continued to make the management of a sustainable fish population difficult at Long Lake.
Manuella Four miles southwest of Darwin in Meeker County, Lake Manuella offers a DNR concrete boat ramp and dock on the northeast shore of the lake, and a county park with a swimming beach, bathrooms, changing houses and picnic shelter. Status of the fishery: A full resurvey was conducted in Meeker County in 2014. Manuella Lake is a class 24 lake managed for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, black crappie, bluegill, and walleye. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil.
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LAKE LISTING Marion Three miles north of Brownton in McLeod County, Lake Marion has a large county park on the east shore, with fishing pier, large concrete boat access ramp, campsites, trails and beach. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted at Marion in 2010 to monitor the lake’s chemical, physical, and biological characteristics. Nearshore seining and backpack electrofishing were conducted for a statewide Index of Biotic Integrity initiative. That analysis was done by Fisheries Research. A commercial fishermen removed approximately 5,500 pounds of carp in May 2010. An aeration system is operated during the winter to reduce the likelihood and severity of winterkill.
Minnie Belle Five miles south of Litchfield, Lake Minnie Belle in Meeker County offers two public accesses. A county-owned earthen ramp is on the west shore. A DNR concrete ramp is on the northeast shore. An aquatic management area with fishing pier and nature trail is on the north shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted at Minnie Belle Lake in 2010 to monitor the fish population. Near-shore seining and backpack electrofishing were conducted for a state-wide Index of Biotic Integrity initiative. That analysis was done by Fisheries Research. Special fishing regulations: This lake has special fishing regulations that differ from statewide or border water regulations for the species identified below and take precedence. • Northern pike: All from 24 to 36 inches must be immediately released. One over 36 inches allowed in possession. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil.
Richardson Northwest of Darwin in Meeker County, Richardson Lake has a DNR concrete public access at southwest side of the lake. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted at Richardson Lake in
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2008 to evaluate the lake’s physical, chemical, biological characteristics.
Located on the southwest end of the city of Litchfield in Meeker County, Lake Ripley offers a public boat landing, park and beach on the southeast shore. A concrete public access is on the northwest side of the lake, where there is also a fishing pier and park. Status of the fishery: A standard fisheries survey (summer gill netting and trap netting) was conducted at Lake Ripley during the week in 2015 to monitor the fish population. Ripley is primarily managed for northern pike, bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass, but also supports a self-sustaining walleye population. A fishing pier was available to anglers on the west side of the lake. Walleye were stocked into Lake Ripley in 1979 and 1981. Since that time, walleye have been self-sustaining. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed.
south) and Campbell (to the north). They are part of the South Fork Crow River. A city-owned concrete boat access ramp in West River Park is along the north shore of the river. The park offers camping, the Luce Line State Trail and the Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary. A second boat access at Roberts Park is on the south shoreline. It is next to a picnic area, softball fields and paths. Status of the fishery: A full resurvey was conducted at Otter/Campbell Reservoir in 2012. Fifteen species were sampled. The old dam, at the outlet, was replaced with a rock step type structure around 2009. This new structure may be responsible for the increases in relative abundance of channel catfish, northern pike, and walleye. In 2012, shorthead redhorse were sampled for the first time at Otter/Campbell Reservoir. Otter/Campbell has a long history of winterkill. Fish populations can vary, depending on the frequency and severity of winterkill each year. Invasive species: curly leaf pondweed.
Two miles south of Litchfield in Meeker County, Round Lake offers a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the west shore. Status of the fishery: Present fish population consists of small numbers of black bullheads in the 6.5- to 8.5inch range. Shoreline seining suggests limited bluegill spawning and an abundance of fathead minnows. Few gamefish survived the winterkill of 1989.
Two miles northeast of Dassel in Meeker County, Spring Lake offers a boat access ramp in a county park on the north side of the lake. The 13-acre county park has picnic shelters and fishing dock. Status of the fishery: A full resurvey was conducted in 2013 to monitor the fish population. Spring Lake is managed for black crappie, bluegill, and northern pike. It has a long history of winterkill although none have been reported in recent years.
Silver Located in the city of Silver Lake in McLeod County, the public boat access is on the southwest shore of the lake in a park, with fishing piers on the west and east sides. Status of the fishery: Not available.
South Fork Crow River, Otter Lake, Campbell Lake Two reservoir lakes behind the dam in the city of Hutchinson in McLeod County are known as Otter (to the
Stahl Four miles north of Hutchinson in McLeod County, this lake offers a county-owned boat access ramp in a county park on the southeast shore of the lake. Shore fishing benches along a channel inlet are available. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2008 to evaluate the lake’s physical, chemical, biological characteristics. Fourteen species of fish were sampled, plus hybrid sunfish.
LAKE LISTING Star Four miles southwest of Litchfield in Meeker County, Star Lake offers a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the southeast shore. Its contour features many points and bays. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2013 to monitor the lake’s fish community. The 2008 Lake Management Plan listed walleye and northern pike as primary management species while black crappie and bluegill were listed as a secondary species. Eight species, plus hybrid sunfish, were sampled in 2013.
Stella Two miles southwest of Darwin in Meeker County, Lake Stella has four accesses: A fee access on the southwest shore is available through a resort, a gravel access on the east shore, a DNR concrete landing on the south shore and a county culvert to Lake Washington on the east shore. Status of the fishery: A full resurvey was conducted in 2014. Lake Stella is a class 24 lake and is managed for walleye, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and bluegill. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels.
Family and friends fish on a foggy morning at Lake Stella, two miles southwest of Darwin. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted at Thompson Lake in 2013 to monitor the fish community. Prior to the assessment, the lake was primarily managed for walleye and to a lesser extent for northern pike and yellow perch. Beginning in 2014, Thompson Lake will be managed as a walleye rearing pond. Water aerating is done to prevent winterkill.
Swan One mile northwest of the city of Silver Lake in McLeod County, Swan Lake has two public accesses. A county concrete plank ramp is on the northwest shore of the lake near Swan Lake County Park, and a DNR cement plank ramp is on the east shore. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2012. An aerator is operated during the winter to reduce the frequency and severity of winterkill. Swan Lake is primarily managed for black crappie and walleye.
Thompson One mile west of Cosmos, Thompson Lake offers a county gravel boat access on the southeast shore and a DNR concrete plank ramp on the south shore.
Washington Two miles south of Darwin in Meeker County, Lake Washington offers a small DNR landing on the east shore of the lake, a larger DNR concrete ramp at Ellsworth Landing on the south shore and a county culvert on the west shore of the lake leading to Lake Stella. Status of the fishery: A resurvey was conducted in 2014 to monitor the lake’s physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. Fourteen species, plus hybrid sunfish, were sampled in the gill nets and trap nets. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels.
West Lake Sylvia West Lake Sylvia and East Lake Sylvia are about three miles south of South Haven in western Wright
County. West Lake Sylvia has a DNR access on southwest side. A navigable channel connects the two lakes. Status of the fishery: West Lake Sylvia and East Lake Sylvia are connected by a wide, navigable channel. Both lakes are popular in the summer for recreational boating and fishing. The lakes are primarily managed for walleye and northern pike. The last survey was done in 2008. Special fishing regulations: This lake has special fishing regulations that differ from statewide or border water regulations for the species identified below and take precedence. • Northern pike: All from 24 to 36 inches must be immediately released. One over 36 inches allowed in possession. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil, starry stonewort.
Willie Five miles south of Litchfield, Lake Willie offers a DNR concrete boat access ramp on the west shore. A fishing pier is near the boat landing. Status of the fishery: A population assessment was conducted in 2013 to monitor the fish community. The lake is primarily managed for walleye and black and white crappie and to a lesser degree for northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, and yellow perch.
Wolf Four miles southeast of Dassel in Meeker County, Wolf Lake offers a DNR concrete ramp on the south shore. Status of the fishery: During the winter of 2013-2014, a suspected winterkill on Big Wolf Lake was confirmed. The evaluation was that the winterkill was likely moderate to severe. Walleye were stocked following the winterkill. It was thought that other primary and secondary species would re-stock themselves through upstream and downstream migration. Invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil. — Lake information was obtained from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ website
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Calendar of area lake events, meetings April Lake Marion Improvement Association meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday in April, June and August at Brownton Rod and Gun Club. Lake Francis Area Recreation & Conservation Club board meets at 8:30 a.m. April 8 at Triple R Bar & Grill, Kimball. Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of the month. Contact a board member for time and location. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Belle Lake Association meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Bonfire. Greater Lake Sylvia Association meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at Southside Township Hall, Annandale. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille. Lake Stella Homeowners Association meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Litchfield American Legion.
May Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of the month. Contact a board member for time and location. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Belle Lake Association meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Bonfire. Greater Lake Sylvia Association meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at Southside Township Hall, Annandale. Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille. Lake Stella Homeowners
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PHOTO BY PEG BECKSTRAND
Peg Beckstrand of Litchfield captured this photo at the channel of Lake Washington along Meeker County Road 14. Association meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Litchfield American Legion.
June Lake Marion Improvement Association meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday in April, June and August at Brownton Rod and Gun Club. Lake Jennie Improvement Association meets the third Saturday of the month. Contact a board member for time and location. Lake Washington Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at Dassel Rod and Gun Club. Belle Lake Association meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Bonfire. Lake Francis Area Recreation & Conservation Club board meets and has its annual member meeting at 8:30 a.m. June 24 at Kingston Community Center. Greater Lake Sylvia Association meets at 9 a.m. the second Saturday of each month at Southside Township Hall, Annandale.
Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at Bonfire Bar & Grille. Lake Stella Homeowners Association meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Litchfield American Legion. North Browns Lake Association seventh annual Bow & Arrow Carp Shoot will be from dusk to 2 a.m. with specially rigged boats using highintensity lights. Date to be determined. Eden Valley Sportsman Club Youth Fishing Contest is June 25 during Eden Valleyâ€™s Valley Daze.
Have your event or meeting listed free If your organization or lake association has a meeting or event to list in the calendar, contact Editor Juliana Thill by email at thill@independent review.net or call 320-593-4808 or 320-234-4172.
Many area lake associations post information online Editor’s note: If your lake association’s information is not included or if it changes, contact Editor Juliana Thill at 320-593-4808 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Belle Lake Association • Website: www.bellelakeassociation.com • Facebook: Belle Lake Association Brooks Lake Area Association • Website: www.brookslake.info • Facebook: Brooks Lake
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Collinwood Community Lake Association • Website: www.collinwoodlake.com Crow River Organization of Water • Website: http://crowriver.org • Facebook: Crow River Lakes and Streams • Twitter: @crowriverorg French Lake Improvement Association • Website: http://frenchlake.wix.com/flia
Hutchinson - Darwin - Brownton 1-800-937-1728
Greater Lake Sylvia Association • Website: www.lakesylvia.org Koronis Lake Association • Website: www.koronislakeassociation.org • Facebook: Koronis Lake Association Lake Francis Area Recreation and Conservation Club • Website: www.lakefrancismn.org • Facebook: Lake Francis Lake Association Lake Jennie Improvement Association • Website: www.lakejennie.com • Facebook: Lake Jennie Improvement Association Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association • Website: https://sites.google.com/ site/lmbiaorg • Facebook: Lake Minnie Belle Improvement Association Lake Ripley Improvement Association • Facebook: Lake Ripley Improvement Association Lake Stella Homeowners Association • Website: www.lakestella.com • Facebook: Lake Stella Association Lake Washington Improvement Association • Website: www.lakewashingtonassn.com • Facebook: Lake Washington Improvement Association North Browns Lake Association • Website: www.northbrownslake.org • Facebook: North Browns Lake Association
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