Tuesday, November 23, 2010


(for the Aitkin Independent Age Outdoors "WATERWORKS" column) by Gordon Prickett

Once the mercury drops below freezing and stays there for days at a time it doesn’t take long for bird baths and shallow ponds to freeze over. On November 23rd we awoke to see most of our lake’s surface covered with a thin skin of ice plus a dusting of new snow. So much for the early skating and exploring on the clear glassy ice that exposes the depths. Out from our shoreline I could see a pattern of openings where our young neighborhood beaver appears to have broken through. Remembering that “there is no such thing as safe ice,” I stayed on shore and didn’t venture onto the ice to inspect for beaver. With continued cold temperatures in the weather forecast most of the area lakes should have a thickening ice cover by early December.


The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations, sometimes referred to as a COLA,
invited neighboring counties and Minnesota Waters to an exploratory meeting in Park Rapids. The invitation to fourteen similar COLAs was to meet and consider what might be gained by joining in a regional or statewide collaborative. Representatives from eleven coalitions of county lake associations sat down on November 16th and talked over their accomplishments and their challenges. I attended the meeting, representing the Aitkin County Lakes and Rivers Association, ACLARA.

From as far away as Grand Marais and Mankato we found that public perceptions about lake property, public waters, and shoreland regulations are pretty similar. Needing help with feedlot drainage and failing septic systems are shared challenges in a number of counties. Finding out about successful grant applications to state lottery, heritage, and legacy funding sources is part of the appeal of this collaborative approach.

The group decided that there was a lot to learn from each other, and there are important activities that we can perform together. We will continue to meet and organize in 2011.

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