Ely Area Newspapers and Radio

Summary of 2016 Burntside Lake Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Plan

In early 2016, the Burntside Lake Association was granted $189,000 to implement a plan to prevent the spread of AIS into (and out of) Burntside Lake and to raise awareness and understanding of AIS issues in the Ely area.  Our principal goals and results of our activities are summarized below.

  1. Expand launch site inspection and education programs at the Van Vac Road and other public landings on Burntside.
    1. Performed 2,193 boat inspections on Burntside.
    2. Inspectors educated boaters about the importance of AIS prevention and handed out information, bobbers, key floats, etc., as reminders.
  2. Provide free boat-cleaning facilities for boaters going in and out of Burntside and other Ely-area lakes.  Completed 132 boat cleanings at Van Vac landing and at the Ely Chamber. 
  3. Improve public awareness and education on Burntside Lake and throughout the Ely area focusing on boaters who intend to launch their boats on any of the Ely-area lakes.
    1. Distributed brochures, posters and “Clean, Drain, Dry” bobbers, coasters and key floats to nearly every retail establishment in downtown Ely.
    2. With the great assistance of the Ely Chamber, we distributed similar materials to about 50 Chamber-member resorts around Ely.
    3. Posted “Clean, Drain, Dry” banners along Sheridan Street to expand awareness.
    4. Sent all Burntside property owners information on how to prevent the spread of AIS.
    5. Redesigned the Burntside Lake website to include educational materials and other information about how to keep AIS out of Burntside.
    6. Ran weekly ads in the Ely Angler to let residents and visitors know where they could clean their boats.
  4. Build partnerships throughout the Ely area to expand our reach in spreading the word about the importance of AIS prevention.
    1. Formed the Ely Area Invasive Teams (EAIT) to help expand (AIS) awareness and education beyond Burntside.  To date, this group includes members from the BLA, White Iron Chain of Lakes, Eagles Nest Township Lake Association, Shagawa Lake, Bear Island Lake, Vermilion Lake Association, Ely Field Naturalists, 1854 Treaty Authority, North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Minnesota Statewide AIS Advisory Committee, and Ely Community Resource.
    2. Provided a Wildlife Enforcement internship to a student at VCC.
    3. Supported three projects through Ely Community Resource and their ECO Club:
      1. Rusty crayfish tracking and trapping on the Burntside River.
      2. AIS education material and boat cleaning demonstration during the ECO Club’s summer camp.
      3. Spiny waterflea sampling and measurement on Burntside Lake.
      4. Participation in the “Invaders Summit” in St. Cloud.
  5. Build early detection capabilities.
    1. Completed calcium testing on Burntside prior to our grant being awarded.  (Good news:  low calcium means unattractive habitat for zebra mussels!)
    2. Completed a lake survey by RMB Environmental Laboratories identifying plants present in Burntside.  No invasive plant species identified.
    3. 15 members of the BLA AIS Task Force and the EAIT competed the St. Louis River Alliance Sentry Program to help local residents begin to learn how to monitor the lake and identify any potential invasive species to facilitate early action.
  6. Spent only about 73% ($137,000) of the grant awarded and will be permitted to use the remaining funds in 2017.
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Burntside Lake AIS Prevention/Education Funding Approved for 2017


February 14, 2017

Burntside Lake AIS Prevention/Education Funding Approved for 2017

The St. Louis County Commissioners have awarded $43,075 to the Burntside Lake Association (BLA) to support aquatic invasive species (AIS) education and prevention projects at Burntside Lake and throughout the Ely area.  In addition, North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded $281,600 to provide boat inspection, boat cleaning, and boat operator education activities on Burntside Lake and Lake Vermilion.  The Burntside Lake portion of the SWCD program will be for boat inspectors on the landings on Burntside and for boat cleaning stations on Burntside and in the City of Ely for residents and visitors to the area.

“We are excited to again receive funding to help support our efforts to prevent the spread of AIS into and out of Burntside and all Ely-area lakes.  Keeping our lakes free of AIS is critical to maintaining our lakes as one of the most popular recreational areas in the State of Minnesota,” said Carrie Ohly-Cusack, the Chair of the Burntside Lake AIS Task Force.  “We received great support and feedback from the community during the 2016 season.  We look forward to working again with area merchants, resorts, the Chamber of Commerce, and other Lake Associations to continue to raise awareness about the dangers of AIS and ways to prevent its spread into our area.”

In 2016, the BLA completed nearly 2,200 boat inspections at Burntside Lake, raising boat operators’ understanding of the importance of preventing the spread of AIS among Ely-area lakes.  In 2017, we will be providing enhanced training to our inspectors so they are better able to answer the many questions boaters and others have about AIS.  In addition, we will be working with volunteers on Burntside and on other lakes to develop a “sentry” program where volunteers will be trained to monitor areas of their lakes for new AIS species.  The few remediation options available for getting rid of AIS are most effective when a new infestation is caught early.

The Burntside Lake Association is committed to preserving and protecting Burntside Lake from the introduction of additional AIS and the spread of AIS from Burntside to other lakes in the Ely area and elsewhere.


About the Burntside Lake Association

The Burntside Lake Association was formed in 1976 to enhance, preserve, and protect the interests of Burntside Lake property owners.  Over the years, the BLA has worked with the County to update the zoning of property on the lake, worked with property owners to ensure septic systems were not contaminating the lake, and other projects to keep our lake clean and enhance the experience for all who live on or visit our lake.  Visit our website at http://www.burntside.org.

In the summer of 2015, a group of Burntside Lake Association members formed an Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.  Aquatic invasive species are already present in many of the pristine waters of Northeastern Minnesota, including Burntside Lake.  In response to this growing threat, the Burntside Lake Association has formed an Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force. 

The mission of this task force is to protect Burntside Lake and surrounding lakes and rivers by prevention, detection, and early remediation of these non-native plants and animals. Our excellent water resources, recreational fisheries, and healthy ecosystems depend on the success of our collective efforts to control aquatic invasive species.

In 2016, the Burntside Lake Association received a grant of $189,857 from St. Louis County for its AIS Prevention Plan.  With those funds, the BLA:

  • prepared and distributed AIS information and educational materials to property owners, resorts, outfitters, bait shops, and other retailers in the Ely area
  • provided trained boat inspectors at Burntside Lake boat launch sites
  • provided boat decontamination stations on Burntside and at the Ely Chamber to thoroughly clean watercraft and recreational equipment that are moving among lakes that may be contaminated.
  • commissioned a professional survey of Burntside Lake to establish a baseline of the types of aquatic plants that are present in the Lake.  No invasive plants were found.
  • worked with other area lake associations and interested parties through the formation of the Ely Area Invasives Team to coordinate AIS education and prevention activities.  Members include representatives from White Iron Chain of Lakes, Eagles Nest Township Lake Association, Shagawa Lake, Bear Island Lake, Vermilion Lake Association, North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, Ely Field Naturalists, 1854 Treaty Authority, Ely Community Resource, and Minnesota Statewide AIS Advisory Committee.
  • supported educational projects through Ely Community Resource and their ECO Club.
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Starry stonewort infestation confirmed in Turtle Lake near Bemidji

Note: The following press release has been reposted from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota’s second known infestation of starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa), an invasive form of macro algae, has been confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The infestation is in Turtle Lake near Bemidji. 

Turtle Lake is 185 miles due north of Lake Koronis and Mud Lake, connected to Koronis, in Stearns and Meeker counties, where the state’s first starry stonewort infestation was confirmed by the DNR in August last year. The DNR has conducted numerous surveys of lakes in a wide radius of Lake Koronis and around the state and had not found any other infestations. 

“The infestation was reported in Turtle Lake by an individual who first noticed a heavy growth of underwater vegetation last summer,” said Ann Pierce, section manager for the DNR's Ecological and Water Resources Division. “At that time, they thought it was a native algae called chara (pronounced CARE-uh), showing none of the characteristic bulbils that develop in mature starry stonewort. This year when the individual who reported it looked again, he saw those telltale bulbils.

“We strongly encourage anyone who is uncertain of the identity of a species and suspects it may be starry stonewort or any other aquatic invasive species to contact the DNR so we can check it out.”

An initial survey by DNR invasive species staff showed the Turtle Lake infestation extends through about one acre of the 1,600-acre lake. Staff noted the extensive healthy aquatic plant growth in the lake may be limiting the expansion of starry stonewort. As is sometimes the case with starry stonewort, this infestation is concentrated in a shoreline area around a public access. The DNR will explore aggressive treatment options and increased watercraft inspections along with access management in conjunction with the lake association, watershed association and other partners.

”We will use the information we have gathered from the treatments conducted on Lake Koronis to help determine the best course of treatment for Turtle Lake”. Pierce said. “As we move forward with aggressive treatment options we are also working with Beltrami County to increase the level of inspections at the Turtle Lake access. 

“It is important for all Minnesota boaters and anglers to take responsibility at all times and ‘Clean, Drain and Dispose’ as required by law in Minnesota,” she said. “It’s important that everyone using these lakes, or any lake, join this effort and follow this procedure and protect our waters.”

Starry stonewort are grass-like algae that may produce dense mats, which could interfere with use of the lake. The invasive plant also may choke out native plants and possibly alter habitat for young fish. 

The invasive species is typically spread by lake users who transport fragments of the plant from an infested body of water. This new infestation reminds boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

More information about aquatic invasive species and how to report them is available at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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2016 Burntside Lake Vegetation Report

We recently added the 2016 Burntside Lake Vegetation Report to our resource documents are of our site. Please click on the link below to view the downloadable PDF report.

Vew Report

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Foss Lake Fire Follow Up Information

The Burntside Lake Association is now using an Email system hosted locally which will be used to send to send this message and occasional announcements and other messages of importance.  This system was in the process of being set up just as the Foss Lake controlled burn escaped to the north on May 19th and expanded into roughly 1000 acres just west of Burntside and South of Crab Lake. The fire zone continues to be monitored.  The Crab Lake portage which had been closed, is reopened now.

The US Forest Service held a community meeting the evening after the fire broke through the prescribed burn boundaries.  It was  at the Vermilion Community College and provided immediate information and answers to questions from the audience.  Among the questions was "Do you have the resources that you need".  The answer was "Yes", and in the days following even more resources were called into action that showed this was true.  

News and information about the Foss Lake fire was provided by by area newspapers and broadcast. Social media, such as the Facebook group "Ely's Burntside Lake. Yesterday. Today..."  which allowed immediate commentary and photographs as well. 


Here are some links that with information that may add to what you may already have heard.

The US Forest Service provided official updates, maps, announcements and photos at this web site:  

The Ely Echo provided the Ely community with fire information often citing the above site: 
The Timberjay newspaper wrote a comprehensive analysis of how the fire developed and what will follow afterwards:

Controlled burning is a fire intentionally ignited to meet specific land management objectives, such as to reduce flammable fuels.  Annually between 4000-5000 prescribed burns are conducted by Federal land management agencies and of these it is estimated that all but 1% are successful in that the fires did not escape or nearly escape (National Wildfire Coordinating Group, 2005).

There are several unintended but positive consequences of the Foss Lake incident:  

  • The large area which burned north of Foss Lake has been a part of a planned but separate future prescribed burn. This will provide increased protection to Burntside property owners on the west end of the lake, as it reduces the fuel that could carry a fire driven through the burned area by our prevailing west winds
  • Recent studies have shown that where large acreage fires have occurred in our region (Pagami Creek fire, for one), moose populations have been rebounding.  Moose remain under stress and are declining in numbers for a variety of reasons but even the Foss Lake fire holds some possibility for Moose to find a life supporting habitat. See this long but interesting article, which refers to the Foss Lake fire: "More forest fires, more moose" in the Duluth News Tribune. May 28, 2016. 
  • Unrelated to the Foss Lake Fire, on the east end of Burntside on a small privately owned island a brush fire broke out.  Two US Forest Service initial attack crews (13 firefighters ), the Forest Service Beaver, and Morse/Fall Lake Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded to that fire near the Little Long Lake portage. The fire created enough smoke for people in the area to observe, and may have prompted the rumor in Ely that Burntside was being evacuated.  That  rumor was not true. Fortunately these fire suppression crews were equipped and already on the lake.
  • If you read just some of the above news and  articles you will notice all the levels of government organizations that mobilized and came to Ely to contain the outbreak.  They ranged from townships, the City of Ely, St. Louis County, the State of Minnesota, and United States Forest Service.  The volunteer operated Vermilion fire brigade boat was on scene ready for action. It also carried crews back and forth from the Van Vac landing to the fire zone.  St. Louis County Sheriff deputies and others contacted cabin owners around area potentially at risk with evacuation information, if necessary. 
  • Even the Ely economy got a boost with the housing necessary for out-of-the are crews, restaurants were pressed into action to serve the hard working and hungry additional customers.

Through these recent  days, many of us were genuinely and justifiably stressed and worried. There will be stories to tell about that.  But all around town and on the lake, a lot of gratitude was shown to the firefighters for their sacrifice and accomplishments on our behalf.

Planning for Wildfire 2016 Ely Firewise Demonstration Days

Firewise addresses the risk of homes in the wildland/urban interface to wildland fire.  Check out: Firewise Minnesota

As more homes are built in the woods and fields of Minnesota, the existing firefighting resources are less able to protect everyone's property while trying to control a wildfire. Homes close to evergreens and the tall grasses of prairies or marshes are most at risk. Making your home able to survive an approaching wildfire is the goal of the Firewise program.  

In view of Foss Lake fire, do you want to learn steps you can take to protect your cabin, home or neighborhood against wildfire?  Firewise Demonstration Days this June in the Ely area will discuss how all of us living in close proximity to the Boundary Waters can best prepare for wildfire. This is an opportunity to learn about ways you can reduce risk to your home and cabin by implementing wildfire prevention strategies. Jeffery Jackson NE Region Firewise Specialist, Minnesota is presenting these no cost sessions.

Burntside Demo Day: Friday June 10th, 2:00-4:00pm

2945 Van Vac road

For more information about this and additional demonstration days around Ely contact:

Gloria Erickson, Fire Adaptive Communities Coordinator

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (218) 365-0878

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Our News & Information Blog is Live

Hi friends,

In the months to come, we will be updating this area with news and information related to Burntside Lake in Ely, Minnesota. If you would like to get alerts when we add news to this blog, please click the envelope icon in the tool bar above to subscribe to this blog. 


The Burntside Lake Association

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Address Information

Burntside Lake Association
P.O. Box 81
Ely, MN 55731

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