Thursday, September 29, 2011


by Gordon Prickett WATERWORKS Column Oct 5th Aitkin Independent Age

In this land of many freshwater lakes we hear reports of climate change and weather extremes. If, as some say, we are borrowing this environment from our children, then what are we leaving behind for them?

So far in 2011, I have noticed nothing on our lake to worry me. Lake clarity is holding steady. Our count of loons this year includes one surviving juvenile who will soon make his incredible journey to the Gulf of Mexico without adult parents who have protected him all summer. Wake boards, kayaks, pontoons, sailboats, canoes, fishing boats, and jet skis have shared the weekend waters pretty well all summer.

Across Aitkin County there are about sixty lakes with public access landings and about a hundred lakes with some shoreland that has been developed by settlers. In the entire county we have more than three hundred lakes larger than ten acres. Just 251 of these have been given names. This provides an incredible bounty of fresh water for the future.


The Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association (ACLARA) has been updating its by-laws this year and just completed the job in September. Careful attention was given to restating the purpose for this coalition of individual lake associations. With a membership from twenty county lakes, we approved the following five-part purpose for ACLARA:

1. Protect, preserve, and improve the waters and shoreland of Aitkin County, enhancing aesthetic, economic, and recreational values.

2. Serve as a voice of the membership to governmental bodies and agencies.

3. Inform and educate citizens of the County in becoming more effective stewards of our water resources.

4. Connect and communicate with individual lake and river associations and with coalitions in Minnesota. Also help form new lake associations in the County.

5. Support safety and courtesy in the use of county waters and the use of shoreland, and support compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.

This list ought to keep us active and engaged well into the future. Our Annual Meeting is this Saturday, 9:45 am, October 8th, at the Aitkin Library, and is open to everyone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


(This content is from the Outdoors Column "Waterworks" by Gordon Prickett for the Aitkin Independent Age,9/7/2011.)


There is this image of endless sandy beaches that we take from our visits to the Gulf shores or the oceans on either coast. People arriving at Minnesota’s freshwater lakes look at the aquatic vegetation on their new shoreline and think “How can I get rid of these unsightly weeds?”

But we are not living on the shifting salt water shores of Florida, Texas, or California. The bulrushes and cattails plus other useful aquatic vegetation up here have a useful role to play. Before buying devices that rotate on the lake bottom to scape off every aquatic plant near shore, there is a lesson for us to learn from scientists who have studied the fish and wildlife that were here long before cabin people came north. The natural shores of our lakes, with their “weeds,” are where fish spawn and thrive. This is where waterfowl breed and nurture their young.

Rushes and cattails protect the shore from wave action that erodes bluffs and beaches. There is a different image here in the lake country from that of the ocean side. Small boats and canoes, kayaks and sailboats head out from docks on the shore. Shorelines with trees, shrubs, and sedges protect the habitat of many creatures, and provide a unique Minnesota beauty for photographers vacationing far from the oceans.

In short, the less you tear up from your beach, the more there will remain to enjoy on the lake. Think again about these “good weeds.”