Healthy Land, Healthy Lake

Event goers were invited to learn about and purchase native plants at the “Healthy Land, Healthy Lake” presentation in Isle on Aug. 17.

The Mille Lacs Lake Watershed Management Group hosted a “Healthy Land, Healthy Lake” presentation at McQuoid’s Inn located in Isle, Minn., that focused on tips for protecting the Mille Lacs Lake Watershed on Aug. 17.

The event featured six presenters that covered topics such as stabilizing your shore with soft armor and vegetation, preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, development in the shorelands and floodplains, shoreland stewardship plans, and learning about native plants.

Shelly Larson, a private contractor who works with homeowners to maintain their shore, spoke about stabilizing shorelines and said the best way to do so is with native vegetation and biodegradable sheathing as opposed to placing rocks, timber or concrete as a barrier against the eroding water.

Larson said it’s important to keep natural vegetation on the shoreline due to potentially harmful runoff from properties into the lake, something impervious surfaces like lawns or rocks don’t protect against.

“We can help prevent that by keeping the soil where it’s supposed to be,” said Larson.

Jessamyn Foley, who works for the Regional Watercraft Inspection Program for the Minnesota DNR, gave an informational presentation on ways people can help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Foley said it’s important to check for and clear watercraft of any plants, animals and water before transporting over the road.

This includes pulling any drain plugs and being sure to empty all water containers on the boat, including built in live wells and bait buckets.

While it may be an inconvenience to drain water, especially for containers that carry live bait, Foley said it’s important to do so to combat the spread of invasive species.

“If we all just do the same thing all the time, then we minimize the risk,” said Foley.

Foley said it’s OK to keep your bait, but when you’re done with them, they need to be thrown away.

“That includes your nightcrawlers,” said Foley. “There’s not a single native species of earthworm in Minnesota. There are 15 species that live here now, but they are all introduced.”

Mille Lacs County Environmental Resources Manager Dillion Hayes informed the group about shoreline and floodplain regulations like the public’s right to have a water-oriented accessory structure on lake property, provided it’s height is equal to or less than 10 feet; it’s treated to reduce visibility from the water; it isn’t used for human habitation, has no water or sewer facilities, is 250 square feet or less or is 400 square feet or less, located on a general or recreational development lake and is no wider than 20 feet in width when measured parallel to the shoreline.

Residents who have property on Mille Lacs Lake who want help becoming environmentally friendly can receive help from Compass, a group developed by the Mille Lacs Lake Watershed Management Group that consists of citizens and local and state agency staff helping to manage and protect water resources around Mille Lacs Lake.

According to Compass Shoreland Technician Lynn Gallice, a Compass shoreland technician can conduct a lake health survey with concerned lakeshore property homeowners and provide a stewardship plan for lake protection goals free of charge.

Compass focuses on filtering rain by planting native plants on the shoreline, absorbing rain by installing rain gardens, capturing rain in rain barrels and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

There is an opportunity for financial assistance for homeowners that seek to protect of improve surface or groundwater quality. Those funds may be applied for by applying to your local Soil and Water Conservation District.

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