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Commentary: COLA works to keep lakes clean

What a great spring, or should I say extended spring? I actually put my dock into Little Sand Lake on March 31, 2012. I'll probably never do that again. March was absolutely beautiful and then came April fools. Need I say more? Once again, COLA is off to a great start this spring. The Children's Freshwater Festival continues to be a success, water quality monitors have completed their first sampling, watercraft inspections are full speed ahead and we look forward to ongoing lake protection strategies in 2012.

"Catch a Memory" is the motto for the 2013 Governor's Fishing Opener that is coming to the Park Rapids lakes area. Hubbard COLA will probably play a key role in making the Governor's Opener a success. While the Associated Press touted the Park Rapids area as the home of Itasca State Park, the Heartland Trail, the Lake Country Scenic Byway and the Chippewa National Forest, Hubbard COLA will focus on welcoming guests to the "Land of Clean Water and Pristine Lakes."

Hubbard County has some of the cleanest, clearest lakes in Minnesota. Earlier this spring both Big Sand Lake and Little Sand Lake recorded water clarity over 40 feet deep. As noted by our recent Hubbard County Large Lake Assessment Grant Program, Hubbard County has 28 lakes with stable or improving water quality trends.

To many Minnesotans, water and lakes are a major part of our lives; whether fishing, swimming, boating or just relaxing. Lakes are where we gather to share family stories and to "catch a memory". Yet our favorite lakes are at risk.

While we all continue to get caught up in the rush to prevent the spread of AIS, especially Zebra Mussels, from coming to our favorite lake, we must do more to focus on other risks that threaten our lakes. Utilizing the data from COLA's/SWCD's recently completed Large Lake Assessment Program; we must focus our attention on strategic water quality protection and restoration strategies with concerted action on lakes and lake watersheds.

Strategic water quality protection and restoration strategies for all our COLA lakes could include storm water management, best management practices for agricultural areas, protecting land with conservation easements, aquatic invasive species prevention and containment, and shoreline restoration projects.

Along with everyone's right to enjoy our lakes, comes the responsibility to help protect our lakes. Lakes are a shared resource. Your lake cannot talk, but its people can. That's why we need lake associations.

Again, I extend a special invitation to lake presidents to attend our COLA meetings. If you plan to attend I would encourage you to come early for our social gathering where you can meet your lake neighbors and enjoy goodies and refreshments made by Mary Jo Groehler, Theora Goodrich and Ruby Kittilson.

Good fishing, and hope to see you at our COLA meetings and maybe even on the water!