by Tom Hubbnard, President, Big Pine Lake Property Owners Association
After several years of working with Jeff Forester at MLR, and seeing the amazing work his group has undertaken, the Big Pine Lake Property Owners Association (BPLPOA) board decided to modestly increase their annual contribution level and buy a membership for 100 of our members. These BPLPOA members now enjoy all of the member benefits of Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, MLR increasing the value of our lake association to our members while supporting the efforts of MLR.
Jeff is the executive director of MLR and a legacy cabin owner himself. MLR has long been the strongest advocate group for lake shore and river front property owners and their lake associations, advising on and supporting multiple water and property related issues germane to Minnesota’s preeminent natural resource, “water.”
By helping him build a base of members and provide more revenue, Jeff and MLR can make ever greater progress. We are also adding value to our BPLPOA members by including a membership in MLR in their membership in BPLPOA.
Correspondingly, we encourage our members who are existing MLR members to continue their membership/donations as additional financial support for MLR’s operating needs.
We Acted With Urgency
In 2018 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, MPCA listed 40% of the surface waters in the state as impaired, a 40% increase in three years. By 2021 56% were listed as impaired. Last month the MPCA listed an additional 54 water bodies to the list.
Time is our worst enemy. As Jeff Forester said, “the decline of water quality is happening real slowly all of a sudden.” Once a lake is declared impaired, restoration is incredibly expensive and complex. The results of restoration efforts are often unsatisfying. As Forester said, “It is hard to fix a lake.”
The biggest threats include:
- The continued spread of Aquatic Invasive Species, AIS. Over 880 lakes, including all of the largest and most popular lakes like Vermilion, Red, Leech and Mille Lacs are infested with at least one AIS. Most have more than one.
- Runoff pollution of phosphorus, nitrogen and pesticides, herbicides and fungicides from Big Ag operations drive the duration, frequency and extent of Harmful Algal Blooms, HABs. This rise is linked to increased nutrient loading in our waterways since alga feed on agricultural nutrients.
- Mining related sulfide pollution from mineral extraction and processing is expanding across Minnesota due to the growing market for minerals with which to make batteries and upgrade energy grids.
- Poor development of shorelines and destructive boating practices have impaired over 50% of Minnesota’s shoreline habitats.
Lake Associations Need Power to Prevent These Impacts
Each of the above threats has a large, highly organized and well-monied special interest group working to protect the status quo:
- Angling groups and tourism boards fear that limiting access, or even slowing access to our lakes and rivers will reduce tourism in the state,
- Big Ag interests work against any reform that will increase input costs, even if the action has clean water benefits.
- Large international mining corporations work to prevent any regulation or practice that increases costs or limits their ability to extract and process minerals,
- County Boards, concerned with increasing local tax bases, often approve variance requests (<80%) that violate ordinances put in place to protect water resources.
Now is the moment where we must reverse the trend towards declining water quality. The best first step is to raise awareness to all lakeshore owners.
By offering 100 BPLPOA members the resources of MLR, including its monthly newsletter, we build awareness and ultimately create a larger, more educated base that can help protect Big Pine Lake and impact public policy decisions in Saint Paul. By helping MLR educate, advise, consult, promote, direct, initiate, and lobby to protect ALL of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, we are serving the BPLPOA mission, “Preserving and enhancing the quality of our lakes.”
Our board knows that educating our lake shore owners and visitors to the threats and issues regarding our water is its single most important function. Lake and river protection begins with awareness. By partnering with MLR, our members will more deeply understand the wide array of challenges our lakes now face. Having an informed membership ultimately helps the board build support and volunteerism for efforts specific to Big Pine Lake.
By helping MLR spread its message and increasing its members we are helping ourselves.
We are excited to provide this valuable informational resource to our members at no additional cost to them. Going forward their MLR membership will add value to a BPLPOA membership and help us increase BPLPOA numbers.
To learn more, email Jeff Forester, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-961-6144.
NOTE: Each MLR Newsletter has a “Forward to a Friend ” button so our members can instantly forward the MLR newsletter to family, neighbors and friends they feel should become acquainted with MLR’s goal to educate, protect and preserve these valuable resources.