Lake Associations

Water Connects Us All

A lake association is typically a voluntary organization formed by people living around or interested in a particular lake. Its primary purpose is to promote the well-being and preservation of the lake and its surrounding environment. Research by Concordia College found that Minnesota has over 500 lake associations. When taken collectively, they are the largest (estimated 100k members), most philanthropic ($10 million annually for lake projects) and most engaged (1.2 million volunteer hours annually) conservation group in the State.

Lake Associations, taken collectively, are the water conservation/fisheries powerhouse that most Minnesotans have not heard of. Why not? Because they have never been taken collectively.

Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates (MLR) is working everyday to change that. MLR is working to build an advocacy base that can advance laws, raise funding, and provide support for lake associations and lake home and cabin owners. Lake Associations, when united, wield significant political influence for water conservation and environmental stewardship in Minnesota.

We know that by supporting the capacity of Lake Associations, and bringing voices together, we can protect Minnesota’s lake heritage for current and future generations. Lake Associations are the only ones doing this work.

The state cannot. The management of water is spread across multiple agencies, MN DNR, MN Pollution Control Agency, Bureau of Soil and Water Reclamation, BSWR, MN Department of Agriculture. Even within the DNR, the management of lakes is divided among different departments. Fisheries permits the treatment of native plants and fishes, EcoWaters the management of Aquatic Invasive Species, Parks and Trails the boat ramps.

Add to that the authorities of counties, townships and municipalities, and water management is a series of interlocking silos with our water running through the gaps.

Lake Associations are uniquely positioned to plug those gaps, form partnerships among the many agencies, and get work done on the ground that protects and improves water. With statewide lobbying, MLR can convince the legislature to put in place statutes, programs and funding that supports lake associations in their critical missions.

(Photo by Kevin Corrigan) MLR gathers Lake Association leadership at St. Anthony Falls Lab 2024

We Lobby for Lakes – no one else will.

Every year, when water-related bills come up at the Minnesota legislature, MLR is usually the only group testifying on behalf of our lakes and rivers. There is an old, cynical saying at the Capitol, “You can either have a seat at the table, or you will be on the menu.”

MLR gives all lakeshore communities a seat at the table.

By pulling together a broad coalition of lake shore owners, environmental groups, and lake associations, and leading the charge at the capitol to protect our lakes. With a full time lobbyist, and a statewide electronic database of concerned citizens, and a growing Lake Association and COLA membership, MLR has organized and focused intense grassroots pressure at the Capitol.  MLR gets the job done.