The year 2021 ended as it began, with the Covid-19 pandemic still with us, and even ramping up from where it was a year ago. Despite this, there are many positives to report. The Leech Lake Association Board was able to meet in person throughout the year, which wasn't possible in 2020 before widespread vaccinations became available. Still, during the shutdown and since, we have been able to continue our work uninterrupted, thanks to our volunteers and the financial support of our loyal membership.
During the summer of 2021 we continued to collect monthly water samples from four locations on Leech Lake for the fourth year in a row. This work will continue yearly going forward to allow us to track potential changes in water chemistry or phytoplankton populations over time due to the presence of Zebra Mussels and other invasive species.
I am also pleased to report that the Northern Water Land Trust closed in December on sensitive lakeshore on Miller Bay which we have long sought to protect. This property involves some six acres and 1,300 feet of shoreline adjacent to offshore spawning beds where muskies and other fish are known to spawn. The property will be deeded over to the DNR as an Aquatic Management Area (AMA). The Leech Lake Association contributed significant financial support to this acquisition, as we have in the past to protect other sensitive shoreline areas on Leech Lake (e.g., Five Mile Point).
A newer challenge to all of us was the discovery this summer of Starry Stonewart in and adjacent to a harbor on Steamboat Bay. Starry Stonewart is a particularly nasty invasive in that it forms a scum on the surface which makes boat passage difficult. It also infiltrates the wild rice, which is another concern.
We began directing our resources at this new invasive this fall and are developing a plan of action with Cass County, the DNR, and the Leech Lake Tribe to halt or mitigate this latest threat. Please join the Leech Lake Association if you are interested in assisting us in these efforts. You will find a membership form on this website.
Robert Gisvold, President
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
As I look out my window this morning I see a lake free of ice and five inches of snow on the ground -- perhaps not surprising for Minnesota in April. But we can hope that this year's early ice out is a harbinger of an early spring, and good things to come: the end of the year-long lock-downs, and the resumption of normal life where we can see family and friends without fear, or restrictions. At least we can hope, and hope does indeed spring eternal -- particularly on the lake, in the spring.
Although we have not been able to meet in person this past year, the work of the Leech Lake Association has continued. Each month from May through September our volunteers collected water samples for analysis of water chemistry and phytoplankton populations. This is a multi-year study that will monitor the impact of zebra mussels and other invaders on Leech Lake over time. Their impact may or may not be severe, but could affect property values, fishing, and our important tourism industry. We believe it important that this information be collected and made available.
We also met during 2020 with the DNR and the Fisheries Input Group through zoom meetings to update the 2015-2020 Leech Lake Fisheries Management Plan which will be extended through 2025.
We continue to support the acquisition of sensitive lakeshore and offshore spawning beds on Miller Bay (Whipholt area), which seems to be proceeding on schedule. This and other ongoing efforts are discussed in more detail in this newsletter.
During 2020, we obtained the necessary Tribal permits and had Ryan Bruns dredge the Roosevelt Canal to remove sand and rocks which were starting to clog the Traders Bay entrance. Ryan donated his time and equipment to do this. We also inspected the canal a few days ago and decided that the canal did not need to be dredged at this time, thanks in part to the recent rain and snow. However, we will continue to monitor the canal over the next few weeks and dredge if necessary.
The LLA Board intends to begin meeting in person the 3rd Monday of the month at the Cass County Courthouse as soon as it is safe to do, and the courthouse is open for meetings. We are not yet sure when this might be. Our Annual Meeting and Dinner, presently scheduled for August, also remains uncertain at this time. For information regarding future Leech Lake Association meetings, please contact our Secretary, Dave Laursen. We wish all of you a healthy and enjoyable summer.
Robert Gisvold, President.