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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southwest > Natural Resources > Lake Association Project: Douglas County Lake Potential Project Assessment

Lake Association Project: Douglas County Lake Potential Project Assessment

Project files


The charge was to identify opportunities for students, faculty and staff at UMM to collaborate with Douglas County lake associations to help address environmental issues of concern to association members.


Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation District
Douglas County Lakes Association
Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources
Minnesota Star Lakes program
The Initiative Foundation
UMN-Morris Center for Small Towns
UMN-Morris Environmental Studies Program


To identify these opportunities a project scoping effort was conducted that involved attending lake association meetings, communicating with lake association members, visiting lake association websites and other relevant sites (e.g. Douglas Co. Soil and Water Conservation District, MN Dept. of Natural Resources, MN Pollution Control Agency, etc.), reviewing lake management plans and meeting with other natural resource personnel in the area to learn about issues of interest to lake associations in Douglas County.


The following summarizes opportunities that are of interest to members from the Lake Ida Association (and that are also relevant to other lake associations) and represent that types of projects that may be of interest to UMM faculty, staff and students:

  • Chemical/biological monitoring: several databases currently exist that provide annual/monthly measure of water chemistry parameters in many Douglas County lakes. Additional monitoring may be needed to target specific areas or problems (such as drainage ditches). A service learning opportunity may involve taking classes to Lake Ida to conduct water quality sampling—either on a parameter that has been measured (secchi disk, phosphorus, etc.) or a parameter that has not been measured before but may provide additional insight on water quality. In addition, lake associations could benefit from students summarizing data that already exists. We also found summaries of fish communities in lakes but not much sampling of aquatic invertebrates—another possibility for a class or research project.
  • Drainage ditches: this was an issue for several lake associations, including Lake Ida. Drainage ditches are crossing under ag lands and then draining directly into several lakes. Association members are increasingly concerned about the sediments and nutrients entering lakes from these ditches. Work in this area could involve longitudinal water quality sampling, analysis of sediment cores in the ditches and at the delta, and analysis of drainage ditch policies.
  • Education and communication: many high quality and accurate educational resources currently exist on prevention of the spread of aquatic invasive species, sustainable shoreline development practices, water quality, etc., but lake associations still indicated the need for assistance to educate home owners, boaters, etc on these issues. This work could involve conducting research to identify good educational resources and then determining the most effective means for transmitting the materials (newsletters, social networks, lake association websites, community newspapers, etc.)
  • AIS prevention strategies: lake association members were interested in targeting lake access/boat ramp sites to prevent transfer of AIS into lakes. Faculty and students could conduct an assessment of the efficacy/feasibility of various strategies used at boat access sites on other lakes. Such strategies have involved use of large educational posters, on-site boat inspectors, on-site power washing facilities, and use of video cameras. This work could identify the pros/cons of these and other strategies and whether any evidence exists as to their effectiveness.
  • Shoreline development: Homeowners across several lakes have participated in shoreline redevelopment projects involving the creation of shoreline buffers with native plantings and other strategies for reducing nearshore lawns. This project could involve faculty and student interns to assess the outcomes of this work—was it successful; what types of species were planted; was it difficult to put in and maintain plantings; how did these areas do over the long-term; what kinds of assistance would have been helpful to land owners, what would landowners suggest to improve these programs, etc. In addition, association members wanted to see more shoreline restoration projects implemented and would be willing to help in providing resources.


  1. Initial research process started (May-June) - consisted of hours on websites, exchanging e-mails, and making contacts with lake associations.
  2. (June-July) Attended association meetings, continued gathering data, began initial collaboration of data and started potential project development planning.
  3. (July-August) Once most data was collected, planning process continued. Project ideas came from interests of association members and collaboration with Jessica Beyer, Clay Fischer, and Karen Mumford (fmr UMM professor).
  4. (August) Proposed projects brought before UMM faculty for consideration.
    Written reports pending


In-Kind 1,050.00
Outside 10,572.00
Volunteer 277.50
State Special 6,000.00
Total 17,899.50

Leveraged resources

Otto Bremer Foundation 9,072.00
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