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Crow Wing County - Now hiring for Seasonal Watercraft Inspectors
Crow Wing Cty hiring
Loon Lady

The "Loon Lady" featured on KSTP-TV

Sheila Johnston is well known as the "Loon Lady" on the Gull Lake Chain.  She is a tireless advocate for our state bird.  Be sure to watch the interview that aired on KSTP-TV. 

Click here to access the video and several useful links about protecting loons.

Keep It Clean
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Keep It Clean Minnesota

The Keep It Clean campaign addresses the growing problem of garbage and waste left on the ice by anglers, campers and recreationists through education, legislation and enforcement. The Keep It Clean bill was signed into law in May 2023, making it illegal to place garbage and waste on or under the ice on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.  Click here to visit the Keep It Clean MN website.


Visit for full details on Keep It Clean MN

The sport of ice fishing is booming! And thanks to better technology, better equipment and wheelhouses, it’s now more comfortable than ever to stay on the ice for extended periods.

As a result, lakes in the ice belt have seen a dramatic increase in winter activity. With the increased activity has come more pressure on the natural resources, including an increase in the amount of garbage and human waste left on the ice.

Although it’s exciting to see more people enjoying the sport of ice fishing, the removal and safe disposal of garbage and human waste from frozen lakes is reaching unmanageable proportions.

To help address these issues, Lake of the Woods started the Keep It Clean campaign. More recently, Upper Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake came on board. As news about the unique partnership between these lakes — and the work they are doing together — spreads, other lakes seeking solutions are joining Keep It Clean.

During the 2022-2023 ice fishing season, the Keep It Clean Coalition grew from three lakes to over 50 lakes and Soil and Water Conservation Districts! Some of these include: Big Sandy Lake; Big Sauk Lake; Cass County SWCD; Fairmont Chain of Lakes; Kandiyohi SWCD; Lake Vermillion; Leech Lake Chamber of Commerce; Meeker County Association of Lakes; Prior Lake; Spring Lake; and West Battie Lake.

If your lake is facing challenges with garbage and/or human waste on the ice, we invite you to join us in increasing awareness and taking steps to bring about meaningful change.

SAFL update
Updates from The St. Anthony Falls Research Center

Click on link below to read the update from SAFL's Healthy Waters Initiative

Healthy Waters Initiative Update - November 2023

Caution paramount as ice season gets underway- MnDNR - 12/1/23

Ice season

The ice season got off to a quick start in parts of Minnesota in recent days, with ice forming on some water bodies and numerous reports of ice anglers already testing their luck. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to stay on shore until there’s at least 4 inches of new, clear ice.

Ice conditions this time of year are highly variable and can change quickly. Falling into the cold water can turn tragic fast. Safety officials stress the importance of anyone heading onto the ice to check its thickness for themselves and not rely on other people’s footprints, tracks or social media posts.

While 4 inches of new, clear ice is the minimum recommended thickness for walking, it takes at least 5 to 7 inches to hold a snowmobile or small all-terrain vehicle, 7 to 8 inches for a larger, side-by-side ATV, and 9 to 10 inches for a small car or SUV.

“The beginning of the ice season is always an exciting time for us hardy Minnesotans, but it also can be deadly if you don’t take the proper safety precautions,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “Checking the ice thickness regularly – and for yourself – is absolutely vital and one of the easiest ways to ensure tragedy doesn’t strike when you’re out there.”

Each year, unexpected falls through thin ice lead to serious injury or death. Checking the ice thickness with a spud bar, auger or other device is the best way to prevent falling through. Wearing a life jacket is the best way to avert tragedy, since the initial shock of falling into cold water can incapacitate even strong swimmers. A good set of ice picks can help someone get out of the water, and a cell phone, whistle or other communications device makes it more likely a person can call for help.

General ice safety guidelines

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines ( can help minimize the risk:

  • Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).

  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.

  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.

  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.

  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.

  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

  • Parents and guardians should talk with their children and neighborhood children about staying away from the ice unless there’s adult supervision. This includes lakes and rivers, as well as neighborhood ponds, retention ponds and anywhere ice forms.

For more information, visit the DNR’s ice safety webpage ( and the boating safety webpage (


Watch WCCO and CBS Video on GCOLA’s Lake Steward Program!

By Bailey Rieger-Borer and Aki Nace

Kris Driessen, Sheila Johnston and Dorothy Whitmer - Lake Steward Committee

Click the link below to view the video and to read the article.:


state-of-water-restoring-lake-shores   (Video begins right after the ad)


Stay informed with news releases from the Minnesota DNR



The detailed reports can be found at

DNR Updates
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