Serpent Lake Runoff Workshop

Elected officials and staff from the cities of Crosby, Cuyuna, and Deerwood, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) supervisors, and Irondale and Deerwood Township supervisors met on Saturday, February 21, 2015, to learn how community ordinances can help address runoff issues and protect Serpent Lake. Rain and snow melt flow over the land and impervious surfaces; it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants and eventually makes its way into Serpent Lake. Stormwater runoff is one of the major contributors to Serpent Lake decline in water clarity over the last 38 years (2010 Serpent Lake polluted runoff study). The State of Minnesota has done a lot of work to develop a standard for communities to help deal with stormwater runoff and protect local water resources through the Minimal Impact Design Standards (MIDS) program. Several communities have adopted MIDS to help address runoff issues and protect their area lakes.

This is just one part of the $1.2 million state grant to clean up Serpent Lake and reduce runoff from the land into Serpent Lake.

To learn more about the grant, please contact Melissa Barrick, SWCD District Manager via e-mail at or by phone, 218-828-6197.

To learn more about MIDS visit:


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Communities and Citizens Join Forces to Clean Serpent Lake

Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District

322 Laurel St. Suite 13

Brainerd, MN 56401

How much has Serpent Lake changed over the years? A 2010 Serpent Lake Hot Spot Pollution Study and 2013 Crow Wing County (CWC) Water Plan indicate that Serpent Lake’s water clarity has been declining since 1977.

According to Melissa Barrick, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) District Manager, “Serpent Lake has lost on average 7 feet of water clarity since 1977. This is one of main reasons we started the investigating Serpent Lake’s water quality.”

Not only has the water clarity changed, but also the land and habitat around the lake.

Everett Henrickson, Summer Place Resident, stated, “Serpent Lake has been my home since June 3, 1932. I was born in Deerwood, MN. Back when I was a youngster, the lake was cleaner and clearer. In fact, my family tapped the lake for drinking water during the winter. Back then, few houses could be seen on the lake and those that were built around the shoreline were set back into the trees. The Lake held more bass and bigger northern.”

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), SWCD, citizens, MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Department of Natural Resources, CWC, City of Deerwood, City of Crosby, Irondale Township, and Serpent

Lake Association are taking a proactive approach to maintain and improve water clarity.

Melissa Barrick stated, “In 2014, the SWCD received a $1.2 million BWSR Clean Water Legacy Grant to help improve Serpent Lake’s water clarity. The project’s main focus areas are:

1. Reduce phosphorous coming from Cranberry Lake.

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

3. Create or improve land use policies.

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

5. Education and Outreach

This is the first time that Minnesota has invested funds for a lake that still meets state water quality standards. This project will be a model for north central Minnesota on how to resolve lake pollution problems before a lake experiences green algae blooms.”

Lee Uglem, Serpent Lake Association stated “This is a local effort to control pollution and improve Serpent Lake’s water clarity for future generations. This vast and significant project will need community involvement.”

Despite the decreasing water clarity, Serpent Lake continues to be a hub for outdoor recreation including fishing, swimming, biking, kayaking and is the headwaters to the Cuyuna Mine Lakes. The area is also the gateway to the Cuyuna Country State Recreational Area. Destination based tourism has reinvigorated the Cities of Crosby, Cuyuna, Deerwood, Ironton, and Riverton because of the many recreational opportunities and clean water.

Henrickson can still be found fishing on Serpent Lake: he still holds the record for the largest northern caught in CWC in both July and August weighing in at 16.8 and 26.3 pounds. Even thou there are more boats on Serpent, few can match Henrickson’s prowess for catching.

This project will provide the funds needed to make big improvements in Serpent Lake’s water clarity and quality. The project will help Serpent Lake remain healthy for many generations to come. To get involved in this grassroots campaign visit

For more information: Visit: • E-mail: • Find us on Facebook • Call: 218- 828-6197

Funding for this project provided by the 2008 Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment through the Board of Water and Soil Resources Targeted Watershed Project.

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President’s Letter

Lee Uglem

Spring has sprung! It looks like early ice out this year! Very little snow cover on Serpent this winter may bode badly for our CLP survey this spring. Curly leaf pondweed is the only weed in Serpent that continues to grow all winter. With no snow cover, the weed gets lots of sunlight to grow. We will know more after the spring survey to see how many acres of CLP beds that need to be treated. With that in mind, SLA has contracted with PLM Lake Management out of Brainerd to treat the 5 large beds of CLP for 2015. The estimated cost of treating 49 acres is roughly $17,700 or less depending on the spring survey. See enclosed map of Serpent and the areas targeted for treatment.

SLA has applied for a DNR AIS grant for help in funding the treatment of CLP. The grant in the past has paid $100 per acre treated. We cannot treat more than 50 acres of weed beds in a year. The DNR has helped us with grants usually for $4000-$4950 the past few years.

News on our $1.2 million BWSR Clean Water Legacy Grant to help Serpent Lake reverse our water decline is as follows:

Deerwood Summerplace: Engineering designs are being finalized this spring. Once completed, they will be presented to the SummerPlace owners for approval along with Crow Wing County and the City of Deerwood.

City of Crosby; Complete the study of stormwater treatment in Crosby. Work with the City of Crosby, along with Crow Wing County to formulate the best management practices to treat the most stormwater before reaching both Serpent Lake and runoff into Serpent Creek.

Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District met with representatives of Deerwood and Irondale townships, city representatives of Deerwood, Crosby and Cuyuna for a workshop in February. Melissa Barrick discussed the program called Minimum Impact Design Standards [MIDS] with the attendees. These standards could help form community ordinances to address runoff issues and protect Serpent Lake. Another meeting is scheduled for April.

Survey of cost of alum treatment for Cranberry Lake and part of White Pine Bay of Serpent. More on this later.

All in all, it looks like a busy year ahead for some projects to improve Serpent for many years to come.

We have been informed of a $20,000 DNR grant available to Serpent Lake owners to help buffer and improve lakeshore. This is a 50/50 match for the improvement with the DNR maximum contribution of $2,300 per project. Ellen and I buffered approximately 120′ X 30′ of our lakeshore last year for a cost of $3,400. Our cost was $1,700 after grant money. We feel the benefit of buffering our lakeshore is very important for the health of Serpent. Please consider a project on your lakeshore. Contact Crow Wing County SWCD @ 218-828-6197 for more information.

The SLA board is planning on releasing a new 2015 Lake Directory this summer. Volunteers are needed to complete this big project.

And lastly, the Preservation Fund (budgeted goal $15,000) and the BWSR Fund (budgeted goal $12,000) need a monetary boost this spring. SLA is down 50% on our contributions to those funds for 2014- 15. We need everyone’s help to fund these expenses for your association.

Thank you. See you on the lake!

Lee Uglem, SLA President


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By Bob Hoeft

Northern Pike are the top of the food chain for fish species in Serpent Lake. Because of that, an overabundance of Northern Pike have created problems for the thriving of other species, such as sunfish or stocked walleyes. The species at the top of the food chain that causes the biggest problem, however, is human beings. Homo sapiens. Yes, those of us able to read, (or write) this article.

That human beings are the biggest problem around Serpent Lake, or anywhere in the world for that matter, came to me in a recent visit to the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin explored and, as a result, promulgated the theory of evolution. Humans are at the top of the evolutionary chain and, as such, a part of nature itself. We are the result of nature taking its� course and producing a species that can dominate any other species or environment.

Normally, we, as humans, do not think of ourselves as part of nature. It seems, however, that we are, unless of course you do not believe in evolution. (Stop reading here if you don�t believe in evolution). Even if we do believe in evolution, however, we still think and act often as if we have no appreciable effect on nature. Science tells it differently, however, and we are reminded by daily news reports of problems with water and air pollution, global climate change and invasive or threatened species all caused by human activity.

To get to the point: our place in nature as creatures able to manipulate our environment in ways that no other species can is cause to think about every alteration we make to the piece of earth that we call our own or can change by our actions. Unlike Northern Pike who only go on instinct, we have the cognitive power to transcend our instincts and desires and do what would keep our environment healthy and protect other species..

We are not above nature; we are a part of it. At the same time we are only part of a larger whole with a unique power among all living things. Let us choose to live with respect for the earth and all that is upon it.

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President’s Corner

Lee Uglem
Happy Holidays from Serpent Lake
The ice is getting thicker every night and fish houses are starting to be positioned for the early bite! If we can get at least 12 inches of good ice before the next big snow, we will be in good shape for fishing, skiing and sledding this winter. Please, no slush this year!
The BWSR-Serpent Lake Restorations Project- is slowing along. The engineers are still putting the plans together for Summerplace in Deerwood. Once the plan is completed, the folks at Summerplace will either accept the plan or reject it. The engineering firm of EOR is also studying the storm water plan for the city of Crosby. Using best management practices, they will put together a plan to treat storm water in Crosby that runs into Serpent. The majority of storm water in Crosby is directed to Serpent Creek that flows through the mine pits to the Mississippi River. More on that next year.
A meeting is being planned for this spring for representatives of the cities of Crosby and Deerwood, Irondale Township and Crow Wing County. The agenda for the meeting will be lakeshore ordinances dealing with storm water runoff. Buffering of lakeshore, rain gardens, lakeshore preservation, building codes, etc. will be discussed. There is no sense in making improvements in water quality of Serpent to let the lake again in 10 years start to decline. We need to be diligent in making changes and continue to improve our efforts as good stewards of the beautiful lake we live on.
We are behind on our fund raising for both the Preservation Fund ($15,000) and the BWSR Grand Fund ($12,000). Before the end of the year, consider a donation to the SLA for either or both of the funds. All donations are tax deductible. Please help if you can.
That is all for now. Have a great holiday season. Looking forward to seeing everyone next spring!
Regards, Lee Uglem, SLA President

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