Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Concerns rise with Sturgeon Lake's high water level


Concerns about the high water levels on Sturgeon Lake were brought up at the annual meeting of the Windemere Lakeshore and Landowners Association on Saturday, July 13, at Camp Miller.

Jerry Blazevic had reported that he is keeping the brush out of a small outlet from Sturgeon Lake and removing the beaver dams.

“The lake level is up four inches above the ordinary high water level,” said Dennis Huddleston. “The clarity was 21 feet. It had been 23 feet.”

A High Water Level Committee was formed at the June meeting of the association.

Bill Yechout serves on the committee and gave a report of what the committee found.

He said that the level of Sturgeon Lake was 15 inches over the normal water level.

“A lot of people are hurting,” he added.

He said that he had contacted a hydrologist, who told him of a study done in the 1980s. The problem had been going on since the 1940s, he said that he was told.

“The solution is to find a permanent outlet when the lake reaches a high level,” he said. “The water used to go into Dago Lake but the construction of the freeway in the 1960s stopped that. Now there is five feet of water up against I-35 with no place to go. The other side of the freeway is dry. There are routes on the other side of the freeway that were probably natural routes for the water to go at one time.”

Yechout said that he asked about options.

“Pumping is extremely expensive,” he said. “It is not a long-term solution.”

He also contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, he said, and said that the government agencies are developing a plan to lower the lake but that would take several years.

Heidi Lungren of the DNR has developed a map that shows the water levels from the 1940s and has it posted on the website.

“There has been a lot of erosion on the lake shore the last 50 years,” Yechout said. “But it is worse now. She (Lundgren) is aware of water flooding people's basements and about the roads that are flooded.”

He added that Lundgren and Cecil Straus had come to the area in June and tried to figure out a solution to see what could be done.

He said that a representative of the forestry agency from Sandstone is also asking for help.

“The more agencies that can put the pressure on, the better,” he said.

There was discussion about the expense of finding a new waterway.

Chip Wells of the association said that there wasn't enough funds in the association's budget but there is an emergency fund that Lungren told them about

“The solution has to come from the hydrologist and the flood plain manager,” he added.

Sturgeon Lake resident Scott Quittem said that he had been made aware of some old documents from the 1970s that talked about an outlet from Sturgeon Lake that was illegal and was taken out.

“There was legislation and it ended up on the governor's desk,” he said. “And then the lake level receded. That illegal culvert worked pretty well for a long time.”

Yechout replied that the road in question had been put in during the 1930s but the neighbors were upset about it. The owner filled in the land to make a lot out of it.

A motion was passed to write a letter to all of the property owners on Sturgeon Lake and ask them to fill out a form explaining their issues with the high water level.

A No Wake Zone has been implemented on Sturgeon Lake.

It was explained that the No Wake Zone is ordered by the sheriff's office. It asks boaters to go slow within 300 feet of the lake shore to prevent erosion.

There was a question if the No Wake Zone was enforced.

The reply was that there were no fines if a boater created a wake in the No Wake Zone.

People were advised to talk to their neighbors to make them aware of the zone and to ask them and their friends and family to observe the zone by traveling slow on the water near shore.

Eurasian Watermilfoil, an invasive weed that can grow into a mat in shallow water, is back in Sturgeon and Sand Lakes.

“The DNR surveyed Sturgeon Lake on June 3 and found 20 acres of milfoil,” he added. “That's probably double of what they are going to treat.”

Pauline Dee, acting secretary, reported that there is a limit on the amount of milfoil that can be treated in a lake.

Blazevic reported that the treatment was 15 percent of the littoral shoreline area.

Huddleston added that Sturgeon Lake was 1,700 acres but there was 1,000 acres that was less than 15 feet deep.

There was a comment from one member that said that the treatment chemical, triclopyr, doesn't work.

“Milfoil continues to grow in every lake that they have treated,” he said. “They never said what's wrong with more treatment.”

Jerry Blazevic said that the milfoil is at bay on Sand Lake. “It hasn't reached a point where they would bring in a harvesting machine to get rid of the milfoil,” he added. “The chemical is reasonably safe for people and other creatures.”

It was explained that a grant had been received from Pine County to cover the cost of treatment of Sturgeon and Sand Lakes. It was estimated that the cost of treatment would be $23,000.

Dee said that the bill for treatment would be sent in and paid. The granting agency would keep the remainder of the grant funds after the bill was paid.

There was also a concern expressed that the milfoil was mutating and becoming a hybrid that was immune to treatment methods.

It was said that 100 plant samples had been collected each from Sturgeon Lake and Sand Lake for study. The results of the study were not expected until late summer.


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