11/19/15 Mavericks -“Saving Grace” Update
In March of 2010 my presentation covered the efforts our lake association made to improve the quality of our lake water. Grace Lake covers 884 acres with the deepest point being 42 feet ft. which had always been crystal clear.
Initial emphasis was related to trying to stop proliferation of weeds and algae forming by the inlet of our lake. There is one type of blue-green algae that can be fatal if consumed by animals drinking the water.
The primary reason for the algae blooms was too many nutrients in the lake (primarily nitrogen & phosphorus).
We had help by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in developing and implementing a Lake Management Plan. – Received $6400
Water Sampling (clarity, phosphorus, chlorophyll)
Shore line habitat restoration ($25,000 Grant)
Set up the Grace Lake Charitable Fund
Aerial overflight study to detect & analyze nutrient sources $11,000 ($5,500 from NWMF)
Looked at two different methods to try and reduce phosphorous
Alum treatments- bonds with phosphorous (8,00 acres- cost $800,000)
Solar Bee- solar powered lake circulation which oxygenates lake bottom waters
And sediments to prevent the release of phosphorous (5 units @ $40,000/unit)
Both of these approaches were way too expensive to be feasible and would only be effective
In reducing algae.
For our efforts Grace Lake and two other lakes in Minnesota were awarded the STAR LAKE designation for which we received $1200. The requirements to qualify being:
Developing and implementing a Lake Mgmt. Plan
Having greater than 50% of the lake inhabitants members of the Association
Maintaining an active water quality monitoring program
Since 2010 our efforts as well as those of most lake associations in Minnesota have changed their emphasis to prevent the spread of (AIS’S) aquatic invasive species. AIS’S are plants and animals that do not naturally occur in a state’s water which can cause harm (environmental or health).
Invasive Species- having them can result in lake property values declining in excess of 15%.
Banded Mystery Snails- more of a nuisance than a threat. We found them in our lake about
10 years ago. Found out that they probably came from Indiana. They die out and wash up on
Beaches and have to be hauled out. Their quantity varies significantly from year to year.
Fresh water bivalve mollusks i.e. 2 shells
First introduced into the great lakes via ballast water of ocean going ships found 1989
Transferred to the United States from Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s
Start as microscopic (veligers) can grow to 2 inches. Can live up to 27 days in wet or damp
portions of a boat.
A single female can produce up to 1 million eggs in 1 year
They consume large amounts of microscopic plants & animals, reduce food for fish
Attach themselves to docks, boats, motors, lifts, rocks
Sharp shells can cut the feet of swimmers
Increases maintenance to power plants, water treatment plants- adds $billions to costs
In 2014 they were found in 66 lakes out of 10,000+ and 150 lake connections
Submerged aquatic plant
Came from Eastern Europe in the 1940’s
Grows about 1 foot per week up to 33 feet
A 1” piece can propagate and cover an entire lake
Can form mats up to 35 feet thick- a Lake Minnetonka swimmer got tangled in a mat and
Spiny water fleas
Found in 1980 in the Snake River
Attach to fishing lines
Threatens fishing by competing for zooplankton
Big Head & Silver Carp
Imported from China in 70’s to control plankton in ponds
Escaped in early 80’s into southern lakes
Also compete for plankton
Big Head can get up to 110 lbs.- Silver can get up to 60 lbs.
Can jump 10 feet out of the water
Caused injuries & death to boaters and personal watercraft operators. In one
Tournament on the Illinois River a team of three people brought in 5,500 Silver Carp to
The dock in 12 hours –20% were shot and the balance just jumped in their boat.
Curly Leaf Pondweed
Grows in lake water 3 to 10 feet deep
Accidentally introduced when common carp were stocked in North America
Shades out native plants and forms dense mats
Dies in mid summer and releases nutrients causing algae blooms
Easily spread by boats and trailers
Grace Lake is located in 2 counties (Half in Beltrami and half in Hubbard). The Hubbard county DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) is very active in trying to keep invasives out of their lakes. In 2013 they conducted training sessions for volunteer and paid inspectors to work at public landings. We at Grace Lake had 8 people trained as volunteers. They also gave us $1500 to cover 100 hours of paid inspectors. Inspections involve checking for weeds and zebra mussels on the boat and trailer and the live well. We also check to see if the boat came from an infected lake. The following information was recorded for each launch time, date, vehicle license no, Watercraft license no., drain plug in, water in boat, last lake, next lake. One of the main benefits of the inspectors is the education of the people using the public landings. There are civil penalties transporting or placing AIS’S as well as the failure to remove plugs and draining water from boats. The penalties for which range from $100 to $500.
In 2014 with support from the Frohn ($250) and Farden ($2500) townships we were able to come up with $7500 which gave us 500 hours of inspection. The majority of the funds were supplied by our lake association.
To help us determine when to man the inspections we imbedded a car counter in the driveway leading to the launching point. The result was we had daily and hourly data from the years 2013, 2014, 2015 to compare to the data generated by the inspectors.
After comparing the two sources of data we felt we needed additional assurance to make sure people comply with the regulations. We had heard that having a camera by the dock would probably help with compliance. We also realized that we couldn’t afford one so we decided to set up a fau camera on a telephone pole to look like a real camera along with signage that suggested that observations were happening. Some people who didn’t like the idea of Big Brother watching complained to the DNR. The DNR came out to see what we had done and told us we had to take it down. We wrote a letter to the DNR requesting our continued use of the fau camera but they denied it also told us how signage had to conform to specific standards. They did, however, say that two lakes in their region had installed real camera systems with their approval. Two of our board members went to one of the lakes and saw how it worked. The system is called (I-LIDS) i.e. Internet landing Installed Device System.
We were told the system would cost $8,000 to $9,000 and would cost about $200 a month to operate. We didn’t have the money to buy it we started looking for a way to pay for it.
Since our 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota are very important to our economy, in2008 a 3/8th% tax was passed by the voters which resulted in the Legacy Fund for AIS pilot projects. Grace Lake applied for 500 hours of inspection to start on 5/2/14 and end on 9/14/14 from that fund but we weren’t successful.
In 2014 a significant event occurred which made it clear that we had to do more than just having inspectors at our public landing. Adult zebra mussels were discovered in Cass Lake which is only 10 miles from Grace Lake. The Mississippi River flows from its source in Lake Itasca through Lake Bemidji, Wolf Lake, Lake Andrusia and Cass Lake. In theory zebra mussels can’t spread upstream. However, they attach themselves to boats which travel from Cass to Wolf Lake. So all of a sudden we were exposed on our lake to boats which came from any of these lakes. At this point our lake Board of Directors felt we had to think outside of the box and supplement our boat inspections with a camera system- I-LIDS.
I-LIDS system includes a pedestal which contains a motion detecting video camera and audio system and electronics that connects via Verizon to the web browser. It also includes a solar panel which provides power to the system.
The benefits are:
Eliminates gaps in coverage by inspectors
Provides a solution to round the clock coverage
Educates and instructs boaters on cleaning habits with signage and audio
Captures all launch activities with alerts and web browser playback
Documents usage statistics and can capture evidence identifying violations
Motion activated video and audio system
The 2ndphase of the Legacy funds included $10 Million. – Since we didn’t have sufficient funds, we approached Beltrami Soil & Water Conservation office and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for any possible grant money that might be available. In discussing our request with them they thought we would have a better chance for success if our request was increased in scope to include more lakes and that it should be requested by the Beltrami County Chief Executive. The result was a request for 15 ILIDS systems covering 14 public landings, 2 decontamination stations, education & training for a total of $230,000. Again we were not successful.
The state of Minnesota starting in 2015 is providing the state counties $10 Million for 10 years to combat AIS. The funds were allocated to the counties based on number of lakes, public accesses, and parking places. Our county, Beltrami, will receive $187,000/year for 10 years. Since our lake association has been aggressively working with the county, we received enough funds to have 8 hours of inspection daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day for the next three years. In addition we were given funding to purchase and operate an I-LIDS system.
The Grace Lake I-LIDS system was installed on 5/22/15 and operated until 10/27/15 at which time it was stored for the season. It ran from 5 a.m. through 12 midnight each day. As part of the contract ESP, the company that sold us the I-LIDS system, reviewed the majority of the video clips. A total of 11624 videos were captured and 10345 are shown as reviewed. Our Board of Directors also have access to review the videos and see what is happening at the public landing. There were no suspect AIS violations identified. People demonstrated recognition of the I-LIDS, reacted to the audio message, read the sign, and inspected their boats. People were aware of the I-LIDS as seen on the videos due to the audio message, sign, and illuminated green LED on the camera.
In addition to monitoring the activity at our public landing with the I-LIDS unit we check for the presence of zebra mussels by:
Placing cinder blocks in 5 to 8 ft. of water near the public landing and other heavily used
Areas of the lake and checking them from June to mid September.
Encouraging everyone on the lake to check docks, boats, and lifts when removed in the
Our next project concerns managing the inlet to our lake. Judicial Ditch #1 was constructed in the early 1900’s to drain farmlands. It drains into Grace Lake and introduces nitrogen and phosphorous into our lake during the spring runoff and after major rain storms. Prior to entering our lake it flows through a swampy area. This parcel was offered for sale a couple of years ago. The DNR was interested in acquiring the property in order to divert the water so that more would be absorbed before entering into the lake to minimize our problem with nutrients. It was rumored that the seller would have accepted $80,000 for the property but the DNR could only pay $55,000 which was the appraised value. A number of us around the lake were willing to try and make up the difference but the owner accepted a bid from another party. The reason we were willing to help the DNR was that our lake can only support a limited number of septic systems and we could improve our inlet. Rather than lose the opportunity we have met with the new owner and the DNR and they both thought that a portion of the property could be obtained by the DNR through an easement.