Tuesday, November 3, 2009


as seen in WATERWORKS 11/4/2009 The Aitkin Independent Age

Water scientists look at sampling results on our lakes and will only talk about trends in water quality after years of observations. But cabin people like to talk about the look of the lake and the weather we’re having “right now.” “What’s all this about global warming? It’s been cold in October!” Now that the last week of October has seen a little sunshine, and outside chores are finished, I’m still convinced that this is not a "normal" fall season.

In September we had a month of warm summer weather, which kept the green foliage on trees and shrubs. Then a week into October, when brilliant maple colors were reaching a delayed peak, we had sudden snowfalls and a killing freeze that withered our gardens.

Confusion everywhere. Snow collected on green oak leaves. Two inches of snow covered green lawns. Box elder trees shed leaves quickly in connected bunches. Surprisingly, the tamaracks stood out boldly in their finest gold. Deciduous trees around the lake were still green when cold weather forced the last holdout to skip a boatride to view the fall colors. Time to put away the boat and remove the dock ahead of an early freeze-up.

Sure, the glaciers somewhere may be disappearing, and the polar icecaps are getting thinner. There are songbirds are moving their nests north. We can discuss “climate” at another time. But can you recall ever experiencing “weather” like this?


About five years ago a new lake association got off the ground with help from neighbors and the Soil and Water office. Our stated purpose at Nord Lake was pretty simple - to protect and preserve the lake, and to get to know the people living around the lake. In my experience as a vacationer, and more recently as a cabin owner, I have observed that some folks come North to “get away” and are not looking for new social networks.

But there were some on our lake who urged us on - to organize, in order to preserve the lake, and to get better acquainted. It turned out that about half of the people near our lake have become association members, with a core group willing to lead picnics, road pick-ups, boat parades, and send out newsletters.

In the summer of 2004 the Aitkin County Water Planning Task Force sponsored a series of workshops on lake stewardship to help reorganize a previous coalition of county lake associations that had become inactive. Today this new Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association, or “ACLARA,” is planning some initiatives for its 20 member associations in the coming year. An educational event about the movement of Aquatic Invasive Species into our area, and demonstrations of stormwater management will be offered. Lakes that are looking for help in forming new associations, or support with existing ones, will find experienced organizers ready to work with them.

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