By Bob Hoeft

Now here is a difficult thought to think: Shrink your yard. It challenges everything that we have ever been exposed to in many neighbors’ activities and advertisements about lawn care. We see all of this beautiful manicured green lawn to the edges of the property and down to the shoreline and we somehow feel that this is the way it is supposed to be. But, who said?

What if we just stopped mowing and raking a section of our previously pampered property? Let the grass grow and the leaves gather. Perhaps, in our minds, we are afraid that the lawn inspector would show up and there would be a fine to pay. Ostracized by friends. Shunned by neighbors.

Once we start to mow and rake an area it represents such hard work on our part, how could we just let it go?

Actually. Barbara and I have been working on just such a project the past several years. We have established borders in areas where there were none; moved a line of small rocks inward or just let the wild area creep out. In 40 years on our property we never removed bushes or trees next to the lake; even added some.

It is our understanding this is good environmental practice. It slows down the runoff into the lake and absorbs nutrients. It takes some “paradigm shifting” to allow this to happen; what is beautiful is what nature does, not what we as humans do to satisfy our need for order.

We worry about invasive species in our environment; it goofs up the ecological balance of things. Barbara was reading a book the other day that suggests the most invasive species on the planet are human beings. Organizing everything to suit ourselves without consideration of the collateral damage we might be doing makes us just that – invasive species.

I say this humbly with the realization that over the years as we have developed our property we have been invasive. Maybe shrinking the yard is just a way of confessing that it is so.

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Don’t Feed the Ducks!

Oh the ducks are so cute gliding on the water. So you think you’ll feed them and you enjoy watching them gobble up the cracked corn, or whatever you think you can feed them. This routine starts, but you don’t have the same schedule as the ducks. Then some days they glide by to get fed and you’re not there, so they leave you some droppings to let you know they were there but you weren’t. This continues for a few weeks. Then you go for a swim and end up with swimmer’s itch, the kind that comes from the duck lice that are left in the water by those cute gliding ducks. Swimmer’s itch is not a fun thing to endure; not the worst thing that could happen to you, but still not fun to get. Now you do some research to find out how to get rid of the duck lice problem you created by feeding the ducks in the first place. So began the cycle of feeding the ducks, cleaning up after them (on your dock), and having to use chemicals to treat the water in front of your lake place.

Here’s a thought . . . don’t feed the ducks in the first place! I’m putting that idea on my calendar for next season so I can watch the ducks glide by and not start the feeding, cleaning, and treating cycle again. This is just one small way that I can be kind to our lake.


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Curly-leaf Pondweed Update

Arlen Bowen

For the first time since 2005— when the lake was first treated for Curly-leaf Pondweed — all our “official” observers have not found this invasive species. We can thank the weather and the treatment for this milestone. We will likely treat hot spots like the public accesses and any beds we see pop up next spring.


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Pulling Your Dock This Fall

Shared with permission from Jeff Forester, Executive Director MLR, MN Lakes & Rivers Advocate Email: Web: Phone:952-854-1317

For many Labor Day weekend is the time to close up the cabin. This fall, as lake shore owners pull docks and boat lifts, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging them to look for aquatic invasive species when removing their docks, lifts, and all types of watercraft.

When removing boats, docks, and lifts, lake owners should perform careful inspections to ensure that there are no aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, or New Zealand mudsnails attached. Individuals should visit the DNR website for help in identifying plants or animals that you suspect are aquatic invasive species.

Posts, wheels, and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any portions of watercraft that may have been submerged in water for an extended period need to be inspected. Be careful during your inspections, since in newly infested waters, zebra mussels may not be abundant and you might notice only a few mussels on your equipment. This early detection of zebra mussels and other AIS is crucial in protecting your property, as well as other Minnesota lakes.

If you find something you suspect is a zebra mussel, faucet snail, or other aquatic invasive species, take a photo, note its exact location, leave the specimen in place, and contact a Minnesota DNR AIS Specialist. If you need to remove the specimen, it is important to place the item in a Ziploc bag with alcohol for preservation, which will enable it to be properly inspected by DNR.

It is legal to remove equipment from infested waters and place it on the adjacent shoreline property without a permit. However, if you want to transport a dock or lift from infested waters to another location for storage or repair, you must complete an “Authorization form to transport equipment.” The form is easy to complete and can be found on the DNR website (

It is illegal to transport any watercraft with an aquatic invasive species attached away from a water access or other shoreland property, even if you intend to put it in storage for the winter without first completing an “Authorization form to transport watercraft.” The form is easy to complete and can be found on the DNR website


If you hire a business to remove your boat, dock, or lift make sure they have completed AIS training and are on the DNR’s “List of Permitted Lake Service Providers,” located on the DNR website (

By following these simple steps, you can help limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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Join the Campaign to Bring Back Serpent Lake

Media Contact: Melissa Barrick, Crow Wing SWCD, 218-828-6197,

BRAINERD, MN – August 27, 2014– A $ 1.2 million grant awarded to the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) from the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to improve health of Serpent Lake.

“Serpent Lake is at a crucial point, since 1977 Serpent Lake has declined in water clarity.” Serpent Lake Association President, Lee Uglem.

This four year campaign is based off the Crow Wing County (CWC) Water Plan and 2011 hot spot pollution study. The Serpent Lake Association, the City of Deerwood, the City of Crosby, Deerwood and Irondale Townships, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, MN DNR, CWC, and local citizens are partnering with SWCD to complete clean water actions:

1. Reduce Cranberry Lake phosphorous load inputs.

2. Filter urban polluted runoff before it reaches the lake.

3. Create community polices for people and water quality.

4. Plant native plants to absorb runoff and stop erosion.

The BWSR received 25 proposals, totaling more than $46 million in funding requests. The BWSR only funded three proposals state- wide.

According to Melissa Barrick, District Manager states “This is a big deal for clean water for north central Minnesota. This project will be model for other lakes in North Central Minnesota of how to resolve pollution problems for lakes that are at the tipping point.”

“This is a local effort to control pollution and improve Serpent Lake’s water clarity for future generations. We are looking for community involvement and donations to fund projects. Visit for more information” stated Lee Uglem.



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Call: 218-828-6197.

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