Serpoent Lake Sunset – submiited by Roberta Otto

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For Your Information – And Attention

Serpent Lake Association Board of Directors


We currently have two vacancies on the Board of Directors for our lake association; one position is for a one-year term and the other is for a two-year term. The BOD meets once per month on the second Saturday of the month in Deerwood. Attendance at every meeting is not expected, especially if you are a seasonal resident. If you think you might be interested in filling one of these positions, please contact board president, Lee Uglem (218-838-8351).

THANK YOU to Our Membership Chairperson

Debbie Leonard puts in countless hours keeping our membership information up-to-date! It is a HUGE job, and she handles it well. Thank you Debbie for all your hard work! (Keep her busy by joining the lake association and updating your information!)

Thank You to Our Festival Volunteers!

Thank you to Denny Recknor, Lee Uglem, Danno Mahoney and Brad Hanes for helping at the Deerwood Summerfest booth, and to Lee Uglem and Mary Kuhlman for helping at Heritage Days in Crosby. The SLA booth is part of our ‘education program’ required by the BWSR grant.

Serpent Lake Tote Bags

Our tote bags have been selling well this year. We currently have about 10 left in a variety of colors for $25. They make great birthday, Christmas or hostess gifts! Interested? Call Ellen Uglem 218-866-0012.

Serpent Lake Directories

Getting the new directory updated, ready for publication and printed is a huge job! We have decided to postpone the directory until the spring of 2016 to allow those who are selling advertising and putting together the new information more time. You will be provided a FREE directory delivered by your Zone Leader in May, 2016, if your membership is current. Directories are valuable resources to help locate and contact lakeshore property owners.

Directory Advertising

Thank you in advance to Brad Hanes, Jack Krause, and Margo and Dean Sodahl who have stepped up to sell advertising for the directory. They could use more help! Would you volunteer? If you know of someone who would like to place an ad in the SLA directory, please contact Lee Uglem at 218838-8351 or

Facebook and

We continue to have more and more interest in our social media sites online. Please check out the information and pictures that are regularly posted by Scott Berg (FB) and Wayne Brezina (website). If you have pictures of Serpent, feel free to share them with Scott ( and Wayne ( for posting on our sites.


Remember, we pay about $250 for each buoy that needs replacement. As you may have noticed, some of them look pretty tough and need to be replaced. If you would like to donate funds for buoy replacement, please indicate your desire on your tax deductible check. Thanks again to Oars ‘N Mine for their commitment to placing and removing the buoys, and to Lee Uglem who recovers buoys that are blown off course during the summer and moves buoys to better locations as the water levels change. Please notify Lee if you see a buoy that has blown ashore or is in need of repair.

Licensing Your Boat

All motorized watercraft (regardless of length) and nonmotorized watercraft (over 10 feet) must be licensed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The types of watercraft that must be licensed include, but are not limited to, motorboats, rowboats, sailboats, sailboards, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, rowing shells or sculls, all-terrain vehicles used in the water and inflatable craft.

Life Jacket Requirements

The following are life jacket requirements in Minnesota:  State law requires children under 10 years old to wear a life jacket while a boat is underway. A readily accessible and wearable life jacket is required for each person onboard a boat, this includes canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and waterfowl boats. One Type IV throwable is required on boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) and must be immediately available. Personal watercraft operators and passengers must each wear a life jacket.

Personal Watercraft Laws

Personal watercraft must travel at slow no-wake speed (5mph or less) within 150 feet of non-motorized boats, shore (unless launching or landing skiers directly to or from open water), docks, swim rafts, swimmers, or any moored or anchored boat. Operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to 1 hour before sunset. You may not weave through congested watercraft traffic, or jump the wake of another watercraft within 150 feet of the other watercraft. This includes other personal watercraft.

Serpent Lake Association Board of Directors


Lee Uglem

Bruce Butler

Pat Norby

Jeanne Stanton

Brad Hanes


Glen Vanic

Deb Leonard

Dean Sodahl




Sally McCollister

Al Schiffler

Dennis Bowles

Bob Swanson

Dennis Recknor

Board of Directors List

Brad Hanes …………… 612-414-3244

Robert Swanson ……. 218-546-2855

Al Schiffler………………

Glen Vanic …………… 920-254-1467

Jeannie Stanton …….. 612-919-0046

Pat Norby………………..

Sally McCollister ….. 218-534-3020

Lee Uglem ……………. 218-838-8351

Dean Sodahl …………. 218-546-6732

Dennis Recknor …….. 952-201-1111

Deb Leonard ………… 218-534-9274

Dennis Bowles ……… 218-820-1764

Bruce Butler …………. 218-718-4067

Zone Leaders List

Zone 1

Barb Schiffler 218-527-0086

Zone 2

Bruce Butler 218-718-4067

Zone 3

Bruce Butler 218-718-4067

Zone 4

Jean/Adrian Olson 218-546-5497

Zone 5

Nancy Ravnik 218-545-1496

Zone 6

Audrey Birklid 218-851-2868

Zone 7

Sue Barutt 218-546-6824

Zone 8

Jeanne Stanton 612-919-0046

Zone 9

Lee Uglem 218-838-8351

Zone 10 Paul Tesdahl 218-546-5036

Zone 11 Dan Goodwin 218-534-3721

Zone 12 Brenda Cummings 320-420-7575

Zone 13 Barb/Bill Smrekar 763-360-7727

Zone 14 Jane Spalj 612-875-0591

Zone 15 Doug and Judi Leet 507-382-8496

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President’s Corner

Lee Uglem

President’s Letter
Hello from the south shore! Summer is flying by as usual with entertaining friends and enjoying the lake. We had educational booths at both Summerfest and Heritage Days. People stopped by to ask about Serpent Lake Association and the work we are doing. Informational packets were given out to all interested and everyone seemed concerned and wished us luck in improving the water quality. Arlen Bowen has continued his monthly water sampling to monitor phosphorous and chlorophyll levels. AW Research of Brainerd does the analysis for us. Arlen also makes a Secci disk reading for water clarity. Thanks for the hard work! The board decided at our August meeting that we, as an association, should have periodic SLA happy hour social gatherings a few times during the year. We are planning on having a social get-together soon. We will notify you as to the date, time and location via email and also place a notice in the Crosby Courier. Please join us and meet your neighbors. There was an excellent Opinion article written in the Star Tribune a few weeks ago dealing with Minnesota lakes. I recommend that you read the article carefully to help you understand why the association is concerned with the health of Serpent Lake. Go to our website (, our Facebook page (Serpent Lake Association) or search the Minneapolis Star Tribune website for a link to this article entitled “From Run-Off to Ruin: The Undoing of Minnesota’s Lakes”. August 7, 2015.
The 4th of July Boat parade was a great success! Congratulations to the Bill and Jeannie Stanton family on being judged “Best in Parade”. Their theme was “Where’s Waldo?” and they did a great job with costumes and decorations. The traveling paddle award will reside with the Stantons until next July. Thank you to our judges Jill and Paul Mattson and their house guests for a job well done! New lake directories will be out next spring 2016. Please contact your zone leader with any contact information changes you may have so the info in the directory will be accurate. Please check your docks and lifts when they come out of the water this fall for any evidence of zebra mussels. They will attach themselves to anything in the water and we want to know if any are in Serpent Lake. Thanks ahead of time for being our inspectors on the front lines. Please observe the boating laws and etiquette when using your watercraft on the lake. Give all fishermen plenty of room when they are trying to catch fish. Be aware of boats pulling skiers and tubes. Remind your children that using another boat’s wake for jumping a jet ski is illegal and dangerous. Be safe on the water! Melissa Barrick and her crew from Crow Wing County Soil and Water have been working overtime on our behalf. Representing our interests in improving the water quality of the Serpent Lake Watershed, they have spearheaded the engineering plans behind the storm water treatment design for Summerplace and the City of Deerwood. The plan has the approval of both the Summerplace residents and the City of Deerwood. Once everything is finalized, bids for construction will be open and the first project under the BWSR grant will begin. The intention of the projects planned over four years will be to reduce the phosphorous intake into Serpent by 50%. This, along with the help from lakeshore owners buffering their lakeshore, will ensure that the lake we love will continue to improve in quality for not only us, but generations to come. It is important for all of us to be good stewards of the lake. There are many things we, as lakeshore owners, can do to improve water quality; ensure septic systems are working properly, treating runoff of our lots before entering the lake through rain gardens, buffering of our lakeshore and limiting the amount of fertilizer used for your lawns. Utilize the nutrients of lake water to help fertilize your lawns. These are just a few ideas that will help Serpent Lake remain healthy for years to come. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

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From Runoff to Ruin: The Undoing of Minnesota’s Lakes

Ron Way and Steve Berg

(An article from the StarTribune)

No one can deny the mystical bond that ties Minnesota’s people to its lakes. “Going to the lake” evokes sensations so vivid that they define who we are: the lapping of water, the wail of a loon, the tug of a walleye on the line, a breeze in your face, the sun on your shoulder. Memories pass from one generation to the next.

And yet, we Minnesotans are in deep denial about the critical condition of our lakes and the culpability we share. We are loving our lakes to death.

Agriculture has drained or poisoned the prairie lakes and potholes of southern and southwestern Minnesota. Forget about them; they’re gone.

A similar fate awaits the heart of lake country — the thousands of recreational lakes clustered around Brainerd, Detroit Lakes and Alexandria in central Minnesota. It’s not the crush of shoreline development by itself that’s killing them; it’s the reckless way in which development has been allowed to proceed.

Over the last half-century, quaint lakeside cabins have been transformed, by the thousands, into mega-homes with large fertilized lawns running to the water’s edge. Nearby towns have been converted to suburban-style strips with vast parking lots. Add in all the golf courses, faulty septic tanks and riprap barriers that replace natural shoreline vegetation, and you begin to realize how an exponential increase in unfiltered runoff has remade these lakes into a nutrient soup that’s quite literally suffocating fish and other native species within them.

This year’s early halt to walleye fishing on Mille Lacs, the state’s most popular fishing lake, is a particularly ominous example.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” said Peter Sorensen, a fisheries expert at the University of Minnesota and one of a number of scientists who consider the damage irreversible, given the added realities of a warming climate and a stiff political resistance to land-use changes needed to restore central Minnesota’s lakes. Over the next few generations, those lakes will die, too.

The best we can hope for, then, is to preserve the still relatively pristine tier of forest-­encircled northern lakes that stretches roughly from Bemidji and Park Rapids, through the Leech Lake region and into the Arrowhead. But saving those lakes will require two extraordinary acts of courage: first, an acknowledgment that the laissez-faire path we’ve followed for 50 years has failed, and, second, a new resolve to pass and enforce land-use regulations that diminish the impact of human settlement.

The aim shouldn’t be to inhibit future development but to change development’s character in ways that protect lakes and their surrounding watersheds.

Those are monumental tasks. Admitting we’ve been wrong is a hard thing. We are like fugitives with “stop me before I kill again” tattooed on our chests; we can’t seem to help ourselves. “Much of this has been unintentional and mostly inadvertent,” Sorensen said, and he’s right about that.

Local officials didn’t set out to kill the lakes of central Minnesota. But desperate for tax base, they’ve encouraged hundreds of projects that, when considered cumulatively, have marred the character of lake country and irreparably damaged water quality in the process.

It has been a gradual transformation that most people regard simply as progress. Beginning in the years following World War II, the expansion of prosperity to a broader middle class opened lakefront property to the masses. A home on a lake came to signify the good life. There are no reliable numbers to measure the surge in lakeshore dwellings between, say, 1950 and 2010. But to suggest a tenfold increase, both in the number of dwellings and the volume of runoff, would draw few arguments.

The damage came less from numbers, however, than from careless design. The real-estate market and local governments treated lake country not as a delicate ecosystem but as an ordinary template for suburban excess. The jarring retail strip along Hwy. 371 between Baxter and Nisswa offers an ironic example. Its lineup of big boxes fronted by barren parking lots replicates the suburban sprawl that vacationers go north to escape.

Consider, too, the lakeshores themselves, now studded with triple-car garages and large-scale homes with broad, sloping lawns. We’ve rebuilt suburbia at the lake.

Understanding how this trend has affected lake water is crucial for any hope of avoiding similar degradation farther north.

If 75 percent of lakeshore remains mainly forested, the chance of maintaining lake quality is good, said Peter Jacobson of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. But when natural cover falls below 60 percent, lakes begin to deteriorate.

Here’s what happens: Runoff from farm fields and pavement creates a nutrient overload in nearby lakes. The process accelerates when natural buffers are replaced by lawns and riprap barriers at the water’s edge. When air temperatures rise in the spring, the upper layer of lake water heats up, causing algae blooms that decay and consume oxygen that otherwise sustains fish and their habitat. Climate change compounds the problem by keeping the water warmer for longer periods.

By mid -to late summer, mats of green scum can dominate the upper layers, forcing rotting algae to seep into deeper, colder parts of the lake, depleting oxygen for the feeder fish like the fatty cisco needed to grow large sport fish. The lake “crashes” when sport fish can no longer thrive. Invasive species — like zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil — further complicate the situation.

The economic impact can be stunning. Sport fishing in Minnesota is conservatively valued at $2 billion per year. According to Tom Watson, president of the Whitefish Property Owner’s Association, tourists annually spend $125 million directly and $140 million indirectly in Crow Wing County alone. Lakeshore property values statewide run into the tens of billions of dollars.

Can’t sick lakes be restored? Not realistically, so long as local officials continue to resist changes in land-use practices. The state’s sales-tax-supported Clean Water and Legacy Fund was supposed to make a difference, but much of that money is being spent on collecting data to document problems that are already well-known.

Like people, lakes have a life cycle, Sorensen explains. A 60-year-old human body wracked by smoking and reckless living can’t be restored to that of an energetic 30-year-old, he said. Abused lakes are like that, too.

Instead, the focus should shift to keeping clean lakes clean, insists Bill Patnaude, Beltrami County’s environmental services director, pointing to his County Board’s “full commitment” to maintaining high quality in its 300 lakes.

Indeed, resolving to mend our ways in order to save the lakes farther north will take an entirely new mind-set, bolstered by rules that are enforced, not ignored. That will be the hardest part, not because the needed rules are difficult but because northern Minnesotans have a cantankerous attitude about outsiders telling them what to do, especially if it’s “for their own good.” Anyone with an ounce of political savvy knows the history of hard feelings. Often, it’s portrayed as a battle over property rights or between environmentalism and economic development, but that’s an obsolete frame of mind. Truth is, preserving the quality of lake water in northern Minnesota is a huge component of economic development.

There’s no mystery about what’s needed: larger setbacks for new lakeside homes, natural buffers between lakes and yards, a prohibition against nitrogen fertilizers, frequent inspections of septic systems, and incentives for traditional town design that limits the size of paved parking lots while encouraging native plants, rain gardens, maximum tree coverage and permeable pavers. In short, what’s required is a built environment that harmonizes with nature rather than defying it.

For years, the state had a planning agency to lead such efforts. But Minnesota Planning was eliminated in 2003, and the state’s Environmental Quality Board was gutted. There are laws still on the books aimed at helping guide local governments toward achieving “sustainable development.” The state offers a “model ordinance” and a “milestone report” to evaluate progress. Gov. Mark Dayton has now launched a new citizens’ advisory board to help fill the void. But local governments often ignore the sustainable framework, or override it when development comes calling.

Objections from seasonal property owners are also routinely dismissed, said the Whitefish association’s Watson, largely because most lakeshore homeowners are nonresidents and don’t vote locally.

The need for rules is perhaps best illustrated by a recollection from Jim Erkel, an attorney for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. When, in 1996, officials in Two Harbors asked the owner of a new fast-food restaurant why he had cut down a grove of beautiful pine trees (planted by Boy Scouts in the 1930s) near his new store while he’d been far more careful about the environment and history around his Duluth store, the owner replied that Duluth had rules and Two Harbors did not.

“It was a light-bulb moment,” Erkel said. “He cut the trees because the town let him. That pretty much explains everything.”

Ron Way is a former official with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior. He lives in Edina. Steve Berg is a writer and urban design consultant. He lives in Minneapolis.

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Lee Uglem and Mary Kuhlmanm work the SLA booth in Crosby Park for Heritage Days

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