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|Paynesville Press - July 4, 2001|
Koronis Lake Association turns 30
For 30 years, the Koronis Lake Association (KLA) has been working "to promote the protection and improvement of Lake Koronis," as its motto states. The organization held its first meeting on July 1, 1971, and will celebrate its 30th anniversary this weekend.|
"We decided that 30 years was a good milestone to celebrate our attempt at water quality improvement," said KLA's current president Peter Jacobson.
KLA will hold its annual meeting this Saturday, July 7, at the Lake Koronis Regional Park, on the south shore of Koronis on County Road 20. The annual meeting starts at 10 a.m., a lunch - costing $2.50 - will be served at noon, and the anniversary program starts at 1 p.m.
The program will feature presentations of 39 plaques to individuals and groups who have helped KLA in the last 30 years. (See the list in box on page 3.)
"Lake Koronis is fortunate to have people who are concerned about Lake Koronis because they have truly made a difference," said Paul Bugbee, a past president and long-time board member of KLA.
Currently, about half of the lake's estimated 500 people are dues-paying members of KLA.
In 1971, Vagle approached his lake neighbor, Dwight Putzke, about forming an organization for Koronis. They enlisted other neighbors like Bill Henderson Jr., and more established lake residents like Harold Putzke, Dwight's dad; Mary Ann Erdmann; and resort owner Cush Tolman.
When they met at the high school in July of 1971, they had a good turnout, according to Vagle, and these people were elected to the first KLA board, along with Bob Munson, an attorney who lives on the lake and helped get the organization incorporated.
One of the first tasks of the organization was to build a membership base. Volunteers went door-to-door around the lake to contact lake homeowners, recruit members, and build a mailing list. "We spent an awful lot of time trying to get an accurate mailing list," said Henderson, who served as KLA's second president from 1973-1975.
Another immediate goal of the organization was to identify sources of pollution and minimize their impacts on the lake. Vagle said his motivations for the organization were to keep the lake clean, healthy, and beautiful.
Initially, a focus was on septic systems around the lake. When the organization formed, Stearns County didn't even license septic systems, a practice that didn't start until 1973. Through awareness of its effects, the organization tried to get members to reduce the nutrients put in Lake Koronis.
"It wasn't a matter of a bad septic system," explained Erdmann, whose grandfather bought Hortons Resort (now Stone Gate Lodge around the turn of the century and who has lived herself on Koronis for 80 years. "It was a matter of (no septic systems)."
Another controversial idea was to build a central septic system around the lake. This idea lost much of its impetus in 1978 when a diagnostic study of the lake by a St. Cloud State graduate student identified that nearly 80 percent of the nutrients into Koronis came from the Crow River, said Bugbee. Bugbee, who used to hitchhike home from college in Duluth to attend KLA board meetings, served as the KLA president for at least a dozen years starting in the late 1970s.
Another controversial idea was to reroute the Crow River to keep it from flowing into Koronis. Instead, a watershed district was formed in 1978 to work on improving the water coming down the Crow and eventually into Koronis. "That was the only way we could have any control on the water that came into the lake," said Erdmann.
"It was formed to address the nutrient loading because the preponderance came down from the watershed," added Bugbee.
Bugbee now has mixed feelings about some of the controversial dealings of the early KLA, which he felt helped generate interest in the lake and conservation efforts, but also fostered some adversarial relationships, rather than cooperative ones.
A large success of the organization, though, was in its being recognized as an environmentally conscious group, he said, like during the effort to close the local landfill in the early 1980s. "We had some credibility that lent to that cause," he said.
Or when the city improved its lagoon system in the 1980s by irrigating all the pond effluent and stopping regular dumping into the river. "It was a huge victory when they got those ponds developed to the point that only rarely would they have to release them into the river," said Bugbee. "That source of nutrient loading (into the lake) stopped."
KLA still uses its influence to support or oppose zoning issues that the board of directors feels will influence water quality on Koronis.
In the past decade, the organization has funded a joint septic survey with the Rice Lake Association of homeowners on Koronis and Rice. This survey resulted in at least 30 failing systems being upgraded and increased awareness among property owners led to many other upgrades as well, said Jacobson.
KLA also hired an ag consultant who worked with farmers to improve agricultural operations and to find sources of funding for conservation projects. KLA, which earned money from charitable gambling for several years, also had money to cover the local share of projects that state and federal aid won't cover. Jacobson said most farmers who do water quality projects can get them done with very little out-of-pocket costs.
KLA has supported stormwater, feedlot, and septic system improvement projects, wetland restoration and water retention projects, and improvements to the city sewage ponds.
It also has worked for protecting the lake through awareness efforts, like its 18-year-old quarterly newsletter. Currently, 900 copies are printed and delivered to lakeshore owners and interested residents.
"Until people are aware that what they do impacts water quality, they might be polluting the waters they want to fish in or swim in or do other recreational activity in," said Jacobson.
KLA has also purchased lake ecology books that are used by fifth grade teacher Mary Stock at Paynesville Area Elementary School to teach students.
While no one can totally control the nutrients going into the lake alone, by working together and making others aware improvements can be made. "Just by living as humans we pollute," said Jacobson. "We need to minimize that impact on water."
KLA’s 30th Anniversary Awards
KLA Awards to Individuals
KLA Awards to Groups
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