Tuesday, April 28, 2009

REAL CHANGE - At Water's Edge


For more than a year we heard this call, "Are you ready for change?" As the housing recession sank into something worse; as our soldiers were blown up with devices we had invented two decades earlier, you bet we were! Now it’s been 107 days of change at the White House. Is it still too early to tell how we like it?

For several years I watched the DNR carry out the slogans and the concepts of our conservative, clean water governor. I voluntarily became part of the process. Using this column - which costs the Independent Age no fees - I urged on the participation of readers, lake associations, and shoreland residents in the clean water initiative for Aitkin County.

In October 2008 the County Board agreed formally and unanimously. It was time for a change to shoreland regulation of our lakes and rivers. As of today, May 6th, it has been 126 days - of living with the revised Shoreland Management Ordinance, which went into effect on January 1, 2009.

The Planning Commission, the Board of Adjustment, and the Board of Commissioners haven’t processed cases yet that deal with resort improvements, or with conservation subdivisions, or with newly-required setbacks on very small lakes. Or with alternative standards for preventing runoff and erosion, or limiting visual blight from densely-settled, clear-cut beaches. But we will begin this summer. The ordinance is available over the counter in the Zoning Office, where guidance is given to builders, buyers, and resorters. By the October one-year anniversary of the Board’s decision on this new law, you might ask "How has it worked so far? This Clean Water Initiative."


To help introduce these new shore standards to a wider segment of residents and property owners, the Aitkin County Lakes and Rivers Association (ACLARA) has asked for individual copies of the new ordinance for each member lake at its May meeting. These ordinance booklets are being distributed in time for preparation of annual meetings and newsletters this summer.

At the Rivers and Lakes Fair, Saturday, June 20th, there will be materials on display about building rain gardens and installing rain barrels. These are two important ways to prevent runoff pollution from entering the watersheds. Fact sheets about shoreland rules are being updated and created. Ask for them.

As you launch your boats this Spring from public access landings, look around and notice how well our state officials are doing in managing their shoreland property. Our local county regulations should be followed in this shore impact zone as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Gift 2009

If you haven't seen today's GOOGLE page yet- http://www.google.com - you are in for a visual treat. And an inspiration to clean up, preserve, and conserve.

Last night, Tuesday, April 21st, on PBS Frontline, journalist Hedrick Smith hosted his two-hour production titled "Poisoned Waters." Most of the footage and interviews concerned the watersheds of Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.

Some of the alarming topics shown were industrial scale poultry farming, stormwater runoff, sprawling over-development in critical areas, species extinction - including the Orca Whale and salmon.

The DVD can be purchased for $25 at pbs.org. I recommend earth people see it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


In Mid April I found myself in Duluth at the Lift Bridge Canal with a break between the Annual Mining Symposium and its closing banquet at the posh Kitchigami Club on Superior Street. The sky was clear. The lake the deepest blue. Even with water temperature at freezing, the lake walk was enjoyable. No camera, but I found a pencil.


lift bridge canal ice
floating melting in the sun
sparkling white mid April

Duluth clear blue sky
natives run walk sit and smile
gulls announce their day

Now to return to Aitkin County, where lake ice is rapidly melting, and nearby loons are watching for their waterways.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Eagles Have Landed

We took a walk past our nearby eagle nest on Palm Sunday. Pam Perry of the DNR's Non-Game Wildlife Section had said recently that bald eagles in this region will be nesting in April. As yet we hadn't seen any sign of them. Geese, swans, and ducks have been spotted already. Eagles have returned elsewhere, but not the pair on our north shore, we thought.

I looked through binouculars at the nest as we approached it from the east. No activity was apparent around this large nest at the top of the tall white pine. Directly below the nest I stopped and was peering up when my wife called, "Here he comes!"

Flying over us at low altitude, and circling, was an agitated eagle. We walked on ahead without delay. Safely beyond the nest, I stopped and looked back. Perched above the nest, and watching us closely, sat Mr. Eagle. We only saw one bird. I'm pretty sure his partner was on the nest, out of our view.

In about two weeks the ice will be out, and fishing season on Nord Lake will start for these returning neighbors.

Welcome back!