Water, our most important asset, is fortunately still clean and plentiful.
Yet, will it always be so?
Distinguished Scientist (and Itasca Water Legacy Partnership Board Member) to direct University of Minnesota's Sea Grant Program
The University of Minnesota Duluth announced that John A. Downing, an internationally prominent aquatic researcher and educator, has agreed to become the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program Director and a professor in the Department of Biology beginning in January 2016. Downing is moving to Duluth from Iowa State University where he is a Regent's Excellence Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology and Chair of the Environmental Science Graduate Program. Dr. Downing is also the Chair of the Executive Board of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and the immediate past-president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. In additon, Dr. Downing has local roots in Itasca County where his family manages a tract of land and shoreline as a conservation area. Congratulations, John!
2015 Aquatic Invasive Species Control Efforts
In 2014, IWLP signed an agreement with Itasca County to hire a coordinator to oversee the communications and prevention part of the Itasca County Aquatic Invasive Species program. The Itasca County Coordinator, Bill Grantges, reports regularly to the IWLP Executive Committee and Board. He works with the Itasca Soil and Water Conservation District and its AIS program that surveyed 96 county lakes in 2015 (47 had mostly plant AIS) and treated purple loosestrife infestations at numerous locations throughout the county. In addition, Bill works with representatives from the Itasca Coalition of Lakes Associations (ICOLA) to review applications for Community Assistance Program (CAP) grants and monitor grant progress. Bill also oversees the Itasca County Aquatic Invasive Species Program Facebook page.
By mid-October 2015, Bill reports that his team of inspectors conducted over 7,840 watercraft inspections with trends pointing to a 20% plus violation rate, an improvement form 2014. This work reflects 6,357 hours of inspection and decontamination time. Zebra mussels have been detected on three occasions, all at the Sherry Arm’s Landing on Pokegama Lake, with two on bunk trailers. The mobile thermal AIS decontamination unit has been in service since June 24, 2015. For the last four weekends, the decon unit has seen near constant use while stationed at the heavily infested Sand Lake. Bill’s inspectors provided tournament and pre-fishing coverage for several local fishing tournaments.
Communication and awareness efforts represent a substantial increase over previous years. Several AIS Watercraft Inspectors and SWCD AIS Field Crew participated in the Tall Timber Days parade with the AIS decon unit and made a big “splash”. The popular AIS booth at the Itasca County Fair was a great success with over 1,500 people listening to conversations about AIS and how to prevent its spread. Bill gave numerous presentations to local lake associations and business groups and is a regular presenter at ICOLA. Bill also has a project in process with the Grand Rapids High School IB Biology program following up on a study conducted this summer at Sand Lake.
2015 Healthy Watersheds Conference: Water & Forests
Five of the twelve presentations, as listed below, were videotaped and posted on YouTube. You can view themhere.
- “Let’s major in the minors: What is a watershed and how does it fit with a county water plan?” by Dan Steward, Board of Water & Soil Resources
- “Pharmaceuticals and endocrine active chemicals in surface water.” by Mark Ferrey, MN PCA
- “Score your shore: A self-assessment of habitat on your lake lot.” by Stephanie Simon, MN DNR
- “Assessing the influence of natural copper-nickel bedrocks on water quality.” by Perry Jones, U.S. Geological Survey
- “How are Itasca County Lakes doing?” by Moriya Rufer, RMB Environmental Laboratories
A year of planning yielded a day dedicated to the water, forests and watesheds of Itasca County on July 31st at Sugar Lake Lodge on beautiful Siseebakwet Lake near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. This conference provided learning opportunities about why watersheds are important no matter where we live, whether urban, rural, waterfront or forest, and what we can do to keep them healthy. To read the full report and links to all reports click here.
To "Team Up" with other organizations and concerned citizens to maintain abundant, clean water for our continued health, enjoyment and a strong economy.
Some of our important partners have been the Blandin Foundation, Itasca County, Itasca County Soil & Water Conservation District, Board of Soil & Water Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Itasca Community College and ISD #318.
IWLP has also received generous financial support from several lake associations, other nonprofits, businesses and individuals.
When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richards Almanac 1746
"Team Up for Clean Waters" is an initiative of Itasca Water Legacy Partnership (IWLP), a community coalition who care about Itasca County waters.