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COLA: Turn in your lead tackle at the Hubbard County Fair

The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations will distribute samples of lead-free jigs and sinkers – if anglers turn in lead-based tackle at the Hubbard County Fair.
Contributed/Craig Bihrle
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The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) will once again distribute free, lead-free fishing tackle samples at the upcoming Hubbard County Fair.

There is a “catch,” though.

To get a free sample of lead-free jigs and sinkers requires an exchange of similar lead-based tackle, which COLA will then turn into the Hubbard County household hazardous waste site at the south transfer station.

The “Get The Lead Out” collection box will be available in the fair’s Environmental Education Building from 10.a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 14 through Saturday, July 16.

“We had a lot of interest in this project last year, and we’re hoping to let more people know about it this year,” says Sharon Natzel, COLA president and Long Lake resident. “Loons are one of the highlight species of lake country and we talk to a lot of visitors who are not aware of the role that lead can play in reducing loon populations.”


COLA’s continuing support of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s “Get the Lead Out” program, designed to reduce loon and other bird mortality from ingesting toxic lead fishing tackle, is just one of many accomplishments for the organization throughout 2021 and into 2022. It’s an impressive list for an all-volunteer group that involves 43 lakes and 31 lake associations, and more than 2,600 members who want to maintain the quality of area lakes and lake country experiences.

Listed below are just some of the projects in which HC COLA volunteers participated over the past 18 months.

  • Minnesota Loon Restoration Project: 18 “loon liaisons” on Hubbard County lakes helped jumpstart this Department of Natural Resources project, and attended training held this winter.
  • Residents of 37 lakes participated in water quality monitoring, sampling 19 lakes for zebra mussel veligers and analyzing six lakes for spiny water fleas.
  • Shared and promoted member lake association newsletters, plus state-level news. Hubbard County COLA newsletters are available for public viewing on the group’s website (www.hubbardcolamn.org), and most other lake associations have annual newsletters posted on their websites.
  • Partnered with Hubbard County Environmental Services on the “Pro Angler” billboard and distributed printed bait bags, which feature the “Don’t Let It Loose” message to Hubbard County live bait dealers. 
  • Provided posters and advertisements related to aquatic Invasive species prevention to Park Rapids Pioneer Park kiosk, area Discovery Guide, Residents Guide, Park Rapids Downtown Business Association website and Park Rapids Chamber website.
  • Funded the COLA Charitable Fund Grant. Example: Provided grant for Little Sand Lake Association to conduct an aquatic vegetation survey in 2022. Another $2,000 is available for grant applications for 2023.
  • Shared information on Garfield Lake’s participation in the proposed MN DNR’s Quality Sunfish Initiative.
  • Coordinated Hubbard County’s “Starry Trek” to discover starry stonewort and other AIS.
  • Continued to support and promote the COLA Shoreland Advisors Program. Nine active shoreland advisors consulted with 11 lakeshore owners, and provided a presentation to Hubbard County Master Gardeners.
  • Coordinated participation by 12 lake associations in the Restore The Shore Program, in partnership with the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District.
  • Awarded $100 gift to Hubbard County/Cass County Steamboat Lake Association after it applied for and received official documentation as a lake association from the state of Minnesota.

Members of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations write a monthly column in the Enterprise regarding water-related opportunities in the region.

More from the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations:
Though there’s more snow and cold to come, rest assured that the sun is rising earlier and setting later with each passing day, and soon spring will be here once again.

Craig Bihrle, a retired writer and photographer, is a member of the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) communications team. He represents the Potato Lake Association.
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