Summer Newsletter

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

Summer Newsletter                                       August 2018

Greetings Stewards of Upper Hay Lake – Claire Steen, President

Stewards?  Are you confused?  Perhaps you do not think of yourself as a steward of our lake.  However, I am asking you to start to define yourself as a steward of Upper Hay Lake.  Webster’s American Dictionary defines a steward as “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others”.  As residents of Upper Hay Lake, I know that we are not directly managing each other’s property.  However, our actions on our lake directly affect each other.  Therefore, I am asking you to put your steward “hat” on and consider how your actions impact your neighbor and our beautiful lake.

The subject of zebra mussels has been brought up to me because of the Invasive Species Alert sign at the public landing.  According to Jacob Frie, Environmental Services Supervisor at the Crow Wing Land Services Department, once a lake is infested with AIS, the water body remains infested indefinitely.  In 2014, two veligers were discovered at the northeast and southeast side of Upper Hay.  Since the initial discovery, we have not had any reports of zebra mussels.  It is essential that everyone inspects their boats and docks on a regular basis.  All watercraft leaving the landing need to follow the Minnesota state law regarding the transport of AIS.  It is illegal to transport AIS.  Boat owners need to CLEAN, DRAIN AND DISPOSE.  Check out the Crow Wing County’s webpage about AIS and Tips for more information.

We have had an unusual amount of rainfall this summer.  As a result, the water level on our lake has been higher than normal.  Angela Erskine at the US Army Corp of Engineers at the Crosslake Dam said because of the larger amount of rainfall in July, the water level has been a little higher but not severely high.  They can only open the dam a certain percentage per day.  You can gain more information by going to the St. Paul-Mississippi Headwaters river gages website.  I have invited a representative from the US Army Corps of Engineers to speak to us at our annual meeting next May.  In order to minimize property damage, please remind your guests of not boating close to the shoreline on the lake.

Judy Murphy, Whitey Larsen and I attended a meeting with Lower Hay representatives to discuss 1-watershed 1-plan Pine River Watershed.  This watershed covers 800 square miles and includes Crow Wing, Cass And Aitkin counties. The Pine River Watershed’s goal is to provide leadership at the local level for the prudent use and conservation of our water, soil, and associated natural resources.  We need to remember that forestry (or lack of) affects our water quality.

This summer I have received several calls regarding the shoreline restoration grant application process.  If you want approval from the UHLA Board, we recommend that you submit a project plan in advance.  This plan should include a brief description of the project, include dimensions of the restoration area and depth of vegetation into the water.   You may also attach a diagram of the restoration plan as provided by the contractor.  Rip rap does not qualify under the shoreline restoration guidelines for reimbursement.  Plants with deep root systems are preferred as they will give your shoreline more long-term stability.  WAPOA also has grant money available for restoration.   If you begin your plan this fall, you can submit your plan in the spring to WAPOA for their contest.  You are eligible for the $600 from UHLA only one time as an Upper Hay Lake resident.

During my kayaking around our lake, I have visited with many of you and am taken with the natural beauty of our lake.  Since I have come up “close and personal” to the floating bogs, I called the DNR about these bogs.  The DNR informed me that they are the only ones who can move them.  I am sure many of you are aware of the large floating bog situation on North Long lake.

If you have an opportunity, please paddle or boat by Bill and Pat Harwell’s shoreline on the south side of the lake.  The Harwell’s kept record of their water level for twenty years.  When they designed their shoreline restoration plan, they were informed on where to place the coir logs so they would be above their water line.  Their impressive shoreline is filled with lovely flowers and plants.  I understand that some of you do not believe in shoreline restoration.  However, in paddling by the Upper Hay Lake shoreline, it appears that trees are falling into the water and much erosion has taken place. Some of this could be stabilized with native plants that have deep roots.

At the annual spring meeting, we had an interesting and informative presentation on loons.  Thank you to the stewards on our lake who have placed the loon nests out early in the spring.

I shared at the meeting that I would be willing to serve as UHLA President for a 7th year.  This will be my last year in this role.  I believe that the UHLA board would benefit from new faces and fresh ideas.  Especially if you are a full-time resident on our lake, please consider taking your turn on the board for a few years.  Through taking turns as stewards in managing our lake, the beauty of Upper Hay lake will be maintained and improved.

SCORE YOUR SHORE:  A Citizen Shoreline Description Survey – Judy Murphy, Vice President

As lakeshore owners we all have a vested interest (financial and personal) in the health of our lakeshore ecosystem.  As you know UHLA has been very active in lakeshore restoration in an effort to protect the lake from further degradation brought about by human interaction with the ecosystem such as erosion from excessive wave action, runoff from developed properties and pollution.  Score Your Shore is a tool designed for use by lakeshore property owners to self-assess habitat conditions and stewardship on their land and the adjacent aquatic areas.  Score Your Shore provides an objective and systematic method to assess the type, quantity and quality of the existing shoreland habitat on developed property.

Included with this newsletter is the four-page Score Your Shore Quick Guide which you can use to do your self-assessment.  If you receive the newsletter by email the Quick Guide is a second attachment.  The best way to perform your assessment is from your dock or from a boat positioned 50-75 feet from the shore and centered on your property.  The process is self-explanatory and takes very little time yet it can yield a comprehensive picture of the impact you are making on the ecosystem. By taking the time to perform the assessment you will be able to answer the question “what have I done to negatively impact the health of our lake?”  From there you can begin to look at ways you can positively impact the lake and overall ecosystem.

If we want to be good stewards of the land we must begin to think in terms of what are we leaving for future generations and then take appropriate action to ensure that end.  UHLA encourages everyone to do an evaluation of their property and it will benefit everyone as we continue to look at ways to protect our lake and our investment.

If you would like more information, there is a 48-page manual on the DNR website which explains the importance of shoreline buffers and a step-by-step instruction on how to assess your shoreline.  It also includes illustrations and examples on how to score your lakeshore.

Indian Mounds of Upper Hay Lake – Mickey Perwien, Board Member

When I bought my place in1991 I was told about the Indian Burial Mound on my Property.  If you drive down North Oak Drive you can see some of these mounds.  They are over 1200 years old.  If you drive south of the Upper Hay Access you can see a few of them.

I was told the reason South Oak and North Oak are not connected is due to these mounds.

AIS – Bruce Ohland

The spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) has been a huge topic of discussion and concern for those who wish to protect the lakes and rivers in Minnesota. The Upper Hay Lake Association takes water quality very seriously. Water testing is done on a regular basis and we have inspectors at our public access on weekends throughout most of the fishing season. We have created, built and installed signage at the access listing the steps boaters should take to prevent the spread of AIS. Thus far we seem to have “dodged the bullet” of AIS, but we must not let down our guard.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has worked hard to communicate that stopping the spread of AIS is important. But in the same breath, the DNR notes that AIS isn’t affecting most lakes in Minnesota. Both of these statements are true, but the latter one is very misleading. That’s the problem with statistics. You can use them to say anything you want.

The 10,000 lakes we talk about are really closer to 11,842 that are 10 acres and larger. (Upper Hay is about 600 acres.) By any standard, that’s a lot of lakes. Not all of them are accessible to boaters; there are only 2,238 watercraft trailer launches in the state as certified by the Department of Revenue when providing AIS Prevention Aid to the counties. Surely, boaters use many of the lakes that don’t have public accesses, but those generally aren’t the bigger and more popular lakes – all of which have public accesses.

The DNR says on its website that fewer than 7 percent of Minnesota’s lakes are infested with one or more AIS. So maybe AIS isn’t that big a problem. Still, 7 percent adds up to 828 lakes.

How are the 10 biggest lakes in Minnesota faring in the battle against AIS? Setting the big 10 against the DNR’s infested waters list from April 13, 2018, we find that nine of them have one or more of the most troublesome aquatic invasive species. That’s 90 percent! And these vast AIS-infested lakes include famous names: Lake of the Woods, Rainy, Upper Red, Leech, Mille Lacs, Winnibigoshish, Vermillion, Kabetogama and Pepin.

Mille Lacs has the greatest infestation with three of the nastiest AIS – zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas and Eurasian watermilfoil. Five of the big 10 lakes have spiny waterfleas, four have zebra mussels, three have Eurasian watermilfoil and two have starry stonewort, the newest nasty species, which was discovered in Minnesota in 2015.

The metro area has a considerable problem. In the seven-county metro area’s 159 largest lakes, covering 52,513 acres, you’ll find Eurasian watermilfoil infesting 51 percent of the lakes and 83 percent of the surface area. You’ll find zebra mussels infesting 11 percent of the lakes and 51 percent of the surface area. Minnetonka, White Bear, Waconia and Prior lakes are all infested with AIS.

Much research is taking place particularly at the University of Minnesota. The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has been actively studying the problem for five years. You can visit their website at https://www. for current information with regard to their work and discoveries.

Christmas Lake (located along Highway 7 just south of Lake Minnetonka and west of the city of Minnetonka) has a huge problem with Eurasian Water Milfoil. Their lake association has really been putting forth a ton of effort to mitigate the problem. Recently lake association leaders, DNR personnel and MAISRC, toured a pilot project on Christmas Lake that could provide a solution strategy for both of these issues. The pilot is based on research by Dr. Sallie Sheldon, Middlebury College, VT. She has developed a process to catch native weevils out of a lake, raise them on the invasive Eurasian water milfoil, and then release these weevils back into the lake to achieve some control of the invasive and costly plant.

In 2012 and 2013 the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District began a three-year pilot, putting 30,000 weevils into the lake. The program was interrupted in 2014 when the company hired to do the work pulled out. Said Joseph Shneider, Christmas Lake Association President, “We started to see dramatic improvement a few years later. You could argue that milfoil is no longer a problem on Christmas Lake. Dr. Sheldon believes that another year or two of stocking will tip the balance.”

 Scientists have long been searching for “natural” solutions to infestation as chemicals are expensive and inherently problematic. If biological solutions can be found, our lakes win.

AIS Decontamination – Bruce Ohland

Decontamination stations are available to boaters free of charge, with priority given to boaters who have been referred for decontamination by watercraft inspectors or law enforcement present on area landings. For more information about Brainerd Lakes Area Decontamination Stations, see the resources below:

County Opens AIS Decontamination Station In Crosslake – Bruce Ohland

The Crow Wing County aquatic invasive species (AIS) decontamination station in Crosslake is open for the season beginning Memorial Day Weekend to help stop the spread of AIS. The station is located at the Crosslake Joint Highway Maintenance Facility off Highway 3 at 13870 Whipple Drive. It is open and fully staffed from 9am to 7pm, Friday through Sunday and available for on-call only from 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Thursday. During on-call hours, boaters are asked to call 218-692-2689 to arrange for decontamination. Watercraft decontamination consists of a very hot water rinse used to kill zebra mussels and if needed a high pressure spray to remove material from boats, motors, trailers and personal gear. No soaps, bleaches, or chemicals are used during the process. The station is operated by DNR trained and certified inspectors who ensure the process effectively and safely removes or kills AIS. “Working in partnership with the City of Crosslake, this decontamination station will provide a useful service to boaters,” stated Jake Frie, Crow Wing County Environmental Services Supervisor. “The entire process takes a short time and will be a valuable tool for limiting the spread of AIS in our lakes and rivers,” he added. Decontaminations are available to boaters free of charge, with priority given to boaters who have been referred for decontamination by watercraft inspectors or law enforcement present on area landings. Under DNR guidelines boaters will be referred for decontamination when AIS or other unknown items or materials are discovered, the watercraft has been in the water for more than 24 hours, the watercraft is being transported to a new water body within 24 hours, or if undrainable or unverifiable water is present.

There are also three other decontamination stations located in the Brainerd Lakes Area including Gull Lake, Ruth Lake (Emily area), and Breezy Point at the Pelican Square convenience store. The Minnesota DNR also has portable units at several area lakes. Check out their website at for more information. Information about Crow Wing County AIS prevention efforts, including interactive maps to search for the status of area lakes can be found on the web at, and search for “AIS.” The Land Services Department is committed to providing excellent customer service while helping landowners make wise choices that protect Crow Wing County’s extraordinary natural resources. Citizens are encouraged to contact the Land Services Office at (218) 824-1010 or to discuss AIS or other land use related activities.

Blue-Green Algae – Bruce Ohland

With the unusually warm temperatures, blue-green algae has appeared in some lakes. The problem will increase as waters warm. Blooms can look like pea soup, green paint, or floating mats of scum and sometimes have a bad smell. Blooms aren’t always large and dense; sometimes they only cover small portions of the lake or are suspended in the water and don’t form a surface scum. Unfortunately, some of these blooms can produce toxins that are harmful to people and pets.

People can become sick after they recreate in water that has toxic blue-green algae by swallowing or having skin contact with water or by breathing in tiny droplets of water in the air. In most people, symptoms are mild and may include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, eye irritation, cough, sore throat, and headache.

Dogs are at particular risk, because they tend to swallow more water than humans while swimming and lick their coats after swimming, swallowing the algae on their fur. Dogs exposed to toxic blue-green algae can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, general weakness, liver failure, and seizures. If your dog has symptoms after visiting a lake, seek veterinary care immediately. In the worst cases, blue-green algae exposure can cause death.

Care Of Our Loons By Anne Kostreba

 Minnesota has roughly 12,000 loons, more than any other state except Alaska. Threats to loons include human disturbance, pollutants such as lead and mercury and oil spills. In the fall,Minnesota’s loons travel to their winter home along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina south to Florida or on the Gulf of Mexico. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf, the Minnesota DNR has been tracking and studying our loons to see what the short- and long-term effects of the oil spill has had on them. They gathered their data from dead loons (that lake dwellers alerted them to) and also by collecting loon eggs that did not hatch after the nest had been abandoned. Three years ago the DNR collected 29 eggs that did not hatch from around the state. One of those was from a platform on Lower Cullen Lake. It turned out to be 1 of 4 (of the 29) that showed high levels of PAH, a petroleum contaminant that can cause cancer, mutations, and disturbances to embryo development. Due to the cost ($300 per egg) and the fact that they now have sufficient information to connect our loons to the oil spill, they will no longer be collecting abandoned loon eggs. However, they are still interested in collecting dead loons. Please contact Kevin Woizeschke at the DNR (218-203-4371) if you find a dead loon. The good news – with the information they have gathered it appears that Minnesota will receive significant funds over three years from the wildlife damage remediation fund to protect and help our loons.

No Plot to Shut Down Lake Access By Jeff Forester, Executive Director of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates

“We have all seen in the press and on social media the myth that lake associations are working to ‘privatize’ or limit access to the public waters. At the DNR Round tables this myth emerged as a theme. So, to set the record straight, not only do lake associations have no hidden agenda to privatize or reduce access of the public waters, they are perhaps one of the most effective institutions working to protect and enhance local resource dependent economies. Every lake association in Minnesota, and there are over 500 of them, works to protect the lake resource for the benefit of all. According to a Concordia College study last summer of lake associations, lake associations spend about $6.2 million of their own dollars for lake improvements and protection, including almost $400,000 spent on fish stocking. They commit 1.25 million hours of volunteer time taking workshops on lake ecology, MAISRC’s Starry Trek, and AIS Detector program. Some of the best and largest lake ecology datasets are due to lake associations, many of whom have been doing Secci disc, waterfowl counts and water chemistry analysis for decades.”

Much more can be said in support of Lake Associations and the important work they do. The Upper Hay Lake Association is working hard on behalf of all property owners on the lake. We thank you for your support and ask everyone to consider joining. As of this writing we have 96 paid memberships. The dues of $25 per year have not changed in years but they go a long way toward conducting our business.

Environmental Stewardship Today, for Tomorrow