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: [email protected]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.