Fall Newsletter

Upper Hay Lake Association
P.O. Box 769
Pequot Lakes, Minnesota 56472

Fall Newsletter                              October 2015

Greetings From Your President!
What a beautiful fall it has been! The temperatures have been warm and the colorful leaves hung around longer than usual. This time of the year always makes me a little sad to put the boat and kayaks away. However, it reminds me how fortunate we are to have a place on Upper Hay Lake.

We had an eventful summer. You may have noticed our AIS inspector Diane Bachman at the public landing. She enjoyed working at the Upper Hay landing and meeting so many wonderful people. Diane said most everyone was kind and cooperative which made her job a pleasant one. I certainly appreciate the hours that she spent for UHLA.

Upper Hay Lake also had a TRAFX counter installed at the public landing. Recently Mitch Brinks sent us a summary of the boat activity from May to the end of September. The daily averages were as low as 108 watercraft on Wednesdays up to 262 on Saturdays.

I hope that you had an opportunity to observe the shoreline restoration projects this summer on Upper Hay. We had eight projects completed through the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District grant monies. Other property owners on the lake also completed shoreline projects which look amazing. A special thank you goes out to these residents.   Hopefully more of you will participate next year so we can continue our focus on preserving our shorelines and reducing the amount of phosphorus in our lake.

I am always grateful for the commitment that the UHLA board members are willing to make toward keeping our lake beautiful. We are interested in your priorities for projects that you deem important for the following years. The board would appreciate input regarding the use of the outlet for non-motorized vehicles. We would like to see the outlet being more user friendly for our residents and guests.

A special welcome to eight new residents on Upper Hay Lake. We hope to be able to meet you at the annual breakfast meeting at the Jenkins VFW on May 21, 2016. A friendly reminder that Upper Hay Lake Association will only be successful if we have a strong and interested membership. Thank you for your consideration.

            Claire Steen

Sandpiper Pipeline Project
Currently the North Dakota Pipeline attorneys have petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to review a decision that mandated an Environmental Impact Statement before further regulatory action toward granting Enbridge permission to build a pipeline could occur. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the proposed Enbridge pipeline, Sandpiper, must have the effect of the pipeline on the surrounding area taken into consideration. If you are interested in reading more on this topic, go to the Whitefish Area Property Owner’s Association’s website and search “Sandpiper Pipeline Project”. http://minesotawaters.org/whitefishareaporpertyowners/

Zebra Mussel Update
Thanks to Greg Murphy who attended training classes on how to take water samples to look for zebra mussel veligers and did our testing this summer. RMB labs tested the samples and reported that NO VELIGERS WERE FOUND!!! That’s great news. Hope it stays that way. As you move from lake to lake, be sure to dump your minnow bucket on land before entering a new lake and refill from that lake. Alternatively, it is suggested that we carry fresh water for our buckets and dump out lake water when we leave a lake, then fill the bucket with your fresh water. Also be sure to drop your motor when you first pull out of a lake to dump the water that is in your motor. Crow Wing County’s AIS plan is very informative and can be viewed online at: http://www.crowwing.us/1004/Aquatic-Invasive-Species-AIS

Zebra Mussels in Ruth Lake
An adult zebra mussel was discovered in July along the eastern shore of Ruth Lake. Follow-up dives turned up dozens more adult mussels, confirming the only infestation discovered thus far in a Crow Wing County lake in 2015. Further investigation found the adults were all in one location and no veligers were found elsewhere in the lake. This lack of veligers indicates the mussels are not reproducing in the lake at this time. A similar situation arose at Rose Lake in Otter Tail County, in 2011. A copper-based treatment appeared successful likely because it was caught early. Professional Lake Management (PLM) of Brainerd is conducting a treatment program in Ruth Lake. It has been found that one application of the copper-based treatment is not as successful as is repeated treatments. Patrick Selter of PLM said “repeated application of the copper treatment is more likely to kill the zebra mussels. In two previous treatments, there was just one application, which proved to be less effective.” We certainly hope this treatment program proves successful. Selter said another product, Zequanox, which was used in Christmas Lake, is prohibitively expensive for the treatment zone of fewer than 3 acres in Ruth Lake. “You’re talking a $150,000 treatment versus Ruth Lake is going to spend about $20,000 with all the barrier installation and everything,” Selter said.

Last month, the Crow Wing County Board agreed to allocate $5,000 of state-granted funds to help cover the costs of the treatment, while the Ruth Lake Improvement District raised the additional funds.

(Nothland Press • Tuesday, July 14, 2015)
I hear a lot about how zebra mussels are bad for Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. How are native mussels different from these invasive species?
A: Minnesota has about 50 native mussel species, and they are specially adapted to benefit our aquatic ecosystems. Some native mussels can live for decades, while zebra mussels live only a few years. Native mussel larvae must attach to a fish host for the early stage of life, as compared to zebra mussels that, simply release larvae into the surrounding water. Using sticky threads, a zebra mussel attaches itself to native mussels or other underwater objects, while a native mussel uses a foot to burrow into the river or lake bottom. Both native and zebra mussels can form large colonies, but their effects on the surrounding ecosystem are quite different. A key difference is that invasive zebra mussels filter out food that would ordinarily be consumed by fish. Native mussels, on the other hand, primarily filter,out bacteria and fungus without intercepting food for fish. In fact, native mussel colonies create biological “hot spots” that favor other macroinvertebrates which; in turn, provide food for fish. They essentially function like a fresh water coral reef.

Decontamination Station
Crow Wing County has established a new boat washing station. At this point the service is free, being funded by the state of Minnesota. The station is located in Crosslake on County Road 3 (east side of highway) on the grounds of the County/City maintenance facility (about ½ mile south of the bridge over the Pine River). If you spend time on a lake known to be invested by AIS, it would be a good idea to swing by there and get your boat washed prior to putting it back in Upper Hay.

Loon Report
Once again, Upper Hay had a baby loon that hatched on Gene DeLong’s nesting platform and survived. It was great fun watching the little guy grow up. As usual, the parents left before “junior”. We did note that the little guy has not yet “flown south” for the winter. Sadly, the loon platform next to Ken Meyer’s place did not have any luck; the eggs did not hatch. This has happened in the past and the question becomes, what is the reason? The NORTHLAND’S NEWS CENTER published an interesting article on Sept. 8, 2015 on the possibility that the explosion of the Deep Horizon oil rig in 2010 may have an effect on loons. Loons from Upper Hay do go to the Gulf of Mexico. The article states:

The Minnesota DNR has been tagging loons and tracking their movement around the Gulf. The DNR has taken tissue and blood samples from the loons. They say they found petroleum contaminants in 30% of loons after the BP spill and contaminants in loon eggs. The DNR says 200 Minnesota loons died as a direct result of the spill. “[The contaminants do] cause cancer [and] birth defects,” said Carrol Henderson, who heads the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program, “At this point, it’s hard for us to tease out just how badly that is going to affect the loons, but there’s nothing positive about it.” Henderson says many of the young loons who were in the gulf at the time of the spill are just now getting to breeding age. It’s possible more consequences of the spill could be seen as they begin to breed.

“The loons that hatched in 2008 and 2009 were in the gulf at the time of the spill and they just started getting old enough to start nesting a year ago. As those loons enter the breeding population, if there’s a problem, it may be several years before we see any trend, upward, downward or stable,” said Henderson, “So, we’re looking for some sense of whether or not the offspring from these contaminated adult loons are being affected in their survival.”

Septic System Maintenance
We have written about septic system maintenance in several previous newsletters. To repeat, we are encouraged to pump our systems at least once every 3 years to ensure our systems remain completely functional. Regular pumping protects your drainfield which is the most likely place we had problems. The bad news is that if we have a problem and repairs are needed, it can be expensive. The good news is that grants are available to help with the costs. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers grants for septic repairs. You can email the MPCA at ssts.projects.mpca@state.mn.us for information about the grants.

This time of year, folks with septic systems should take precautions to prevent costly septic system problems over the winter. The following was taken from the BRAINERD DISPATCH Sept. 25, 2015 issue.

Keep Jack Frost from nipping at your septic system
Prevent freezing in the first place. Insulation is key to preventing pipes and drainfields from freezing. Allowing grass to grow an extra 6 inches over the entire system (septic tank, connecting pipes and drainfield/mound) in the fall can protect it from frost. Another good insulator is a layer of mulch (for example, straw, leaves, or hay) spread 8 inches to 12 inches deep over the system. Other ideas include maintaining wildflowers or native grasses over your tank and system.

Don’t be a drip, keep it hot. Dripping faucets trickle water into the system, which can cause ice to build up and eventually freeze a pipe closed, often right where the septic pipe leaves the home. Fix all leaks and keep the system “energized” with regular doses of warm water during the winter – the warmer the better. Spread out your laundry schedule so you run one warm/hot load a day. Use the dishwasher and take hot baths. However, do not leave water running all the time, as this will hydraulically overload the septic system.

Keep off the grass (and snow). Keep all vehicle, animal, and human traffic off the system. This is a good rule to follow all year long as compacted snow and soils cause frost to go down deeper and faster. Pay special attention to the area between the house and the septic tank. Stay off these areas even during the winter as compacted snow provides much less insulation than undisturbed snow.

Keep it safe. Make sure all septic tank covers are in place and firmly attached to prevent someone from falling in. Make sure all inspection pipe caps are in place and in good shape to keep cold air out.

Keep new systems under cover. A new septic system covered with bare soil can have problems with freezing the first year. Cover a new tank, mound/drainfield with an insulating layer of mulch or similar loose material.

It’s frozen. Now what? If your septic system freezes, call a septic system professional. For Minnesotans, the MPCA website includes a search tool for finding certified professionals in your area. Search online for “MPCA SSTS licensed business search.”

If it’s not feasible to correct a problem, the only option is using the septic tank as a holding tank until the system thaws naturally in the spring. Have a pumper empty the tank when it starts to fill up.

There are some things you should never do to try to fix a frozen system:

  • Do not introduce antifreeze, salt or a septic system additive into the system.
  • Do not pump sewage onto the ground surface.
  • Do not start a fire over the system to attempt to thaw it out.
  • Do not run water continually to try to thaw the system. This can overload the system.

Go to the SSTS Practioner and Homeowner webpage at www.pca.state.mn.us/0agxb12 for more information on how your septic system works and how to keep it healthy all year.

Note: My method to protect the tanks is to put in a stock tank heater. These heaters are thermostatically controlled so they do not use electricity constantly. That works great. I got mine at Fleet Farm but I’m sure they are available at other places too.

Shoreline Restoration Grant Deadlines
The Upper Hay Lake Association got a sizeable grant from the state for shoreline restoration projects in 2014. Several projects were completed and funds were distributed. However, we had no applicants in 2015, and therefore received no grant. If you are considering a restoration project, let your interest be known NOW!! The “drop dead date” for applying is Feb. 1, 2016. Send an email to President Claire Steen at claire.steen@charter.net or call her at 218-330-7059. Please consider a project and contact Claire right away. We have no control over deadlines from the State and therefore you MUST contact us now. These projects go a LONG way toward improving the water quality in UHL.

Annual Membership Meeting
The annual meeting will be held the weekend before Memorial weekend as always. This year it will be on May 21 at the VFW in Jenkins. We will be trying to schedule a presentation on fishing with emphasis on Upper Hay. Mark your calendars please. Breakfast starts at 8:00 a.m. and the meeting at 9:00.

            Bruce Ohland

Notes from the Treasurer
Our membership for 2015 hasn’t set any records, but it is still very respectable at 96 households for the year. That is six short of our highest.

We have had quite a number of property sales/ purchases this past year and it sometimes becomes a challenge to keep up with the changes. I really like it when owners let me know when they have sold and who the new owners are. That makes it a lot easier. The Board of Directors has voted on some changes concerning new owners and I’m sure President Claire will inform you about that as things are finalized.

This past year we had 16 members sign up for aquatic vegetation permits; 11 for self-application and 5 that dealt with PLM. Nearly every year the Department of Natural Resources sends out an “Aquatic Plant Management Survey” and as I am the (ET AL) holder of the UHLA permit, I have to complete the form. Since the survey asks many questions, I will be making a few phone calls to get information from the individuals themselves.

I’ll be giving you some year-end financial figures in the Winter Newsletter; ’til then, have a great holiday season – Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

            Ken Meyer

                Environmental Stewardship Today, for Tomorrow