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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Board of Director's Meeting December 9, 2015

Call to order at 7:03 PM with the following members present:  Dale Bacon, Steve Laliberte, Jim Grisim, Tom Merritt.

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve agenda.  Motion carried.

Approval of the minutes
Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve the September 17, 2015 minutes.  Motion carried.

Review Treasurer’s Report
Motion: (Laliberte/Grisim) Move to accept report.  Motion carried.


VLAMO Update
Focus on 3 impaired water bodies.  Gem Lake, Wilkinson and Gillfilan.

Sustainable Lake Management Plan Update
We will update the lake management plan. 
BLID 10 Year Event
There is general interest in a community event.  We discussed possible party near Super America or a pontoon event.
Lake Group Meeting Dates
April 15 and 16 is the State of the Waters meeting.  Dale will attend. 
2016 BLID meeting dates
May 7th to be clean up day and boat launch day.  We will announce this in the January newsletter.

Motion: Move to Adjourn (Merritt, Laliberte) – Motion Carried.  Adjourned at 8:43 PM.

Next Meeting:  November 5, 2015

Minutes prepared by Steve Laliberte.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall 2015 Lake Level Report

The 3+ inches of rain in mid-September topped off another of banner year of high water levels in Birch Lake.  The level reading of 920.22 ft msl*  (taken on September 22, 2015) was about the fourth highest for late September in the last 25 years!  The lowest level recorded in 2015 was 919.30 ft msl on May 1, and the highest was 920.44 ft msl on July 21. The lowest recorded September level was in 2009 when the lake level dropped to 916.93!
What does all of this mean?  From a practical perspective, it’s going to be a little harder (especially for those of us that are height challenged!) to take out the dock!  The lake is almost a foot deeper than when the dock was put in this spring!
The higher water level points to less of the chance for a freeze out and the potential of winter fish kill.  More importantly, the lake level drops a couple of inches over the winter, resulting in high levels at ice out.  Generally speaking, high levels at ice out, coupled with a normal rainfall, result in high levels during the summer months.  Obviously there are other complex factors and interactions (well above my understanding) that can influence this:  evaporation, transpiration, wind speed, direction, temperature, hours of sunlight and others.
Bottom line, the high levels going into the winter bode well for next year!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fall 2015 Photo Corner

This is a new feature.  Birch Lake is beautiful!  We all see it.  How many times do you take out your phone or camera and snap a picture.

Now you can share them.

The Photo Corner is a new section that will share your moment with our Birch Lake community.

Here are some submission over the summer.

Sunset from Ryan Hoops

From Dale Bacon 

Steve Laliberte - Daddy Loon

Send your photos to

Fall 2015 A Rejuvenated Harvester

Look for something new on the waters of Birch Lake next year!  As a part of the multiyear rehabilitation project, the harvester was painted a light blue, replacing the faded green.  The paint job was completed by Capitol Town Painting.  The entire harvester was pressure washed and sand blasted prior to the application of a two-part marine epoxy paint.  During the sand blasting process about 4 layers of paint were removed before reaching the original paint!  
The last part of the project will be the evaluation of the harvester hydraulic hoses, and, if needed, their replacement.  This should happen during the next couple of months.
The harvester was purchased from the City of Forest Lake in about 2006.  The exact age of the harvester is unknown, but estimates put it at about 40 years!   It is hoped that with the completion of the project it will be good for another 40!



Fall 2015 VLAWMO Needs Your Help!

VLAWMO is in the process of upgrading its Water Plan.  It is looking for public input and has developed a brief stakeholder survey. The BLID Board encourages members to participate in this online survey.  It can be reached at

Fall 2015 Chairman's Corner

By Dale Bacon

The ninth annual meeting of the Birch Lake Improvement district was held on June 17, 2015, at White Bear Lake City Hall.  A near-record 24 district members were in attendance. 
Chairman Bacon reviewed the highlights of 2014 – 2015.  In addition to a review of operational items such as weed harvesting and aerator operation, special emphasis was placed on the following topics.
  •   Board members participated in a wide range of conferences, such as the Road Salt Symposium and the Shallow Lakes Conference.  This is all a part of an effort to stay abreast of emerging regulatory and scientific issues. 
  •   BLID is supporting VLAWMO to conduct water sampling and analysis to establish a chloride base level for Birch Lake.  This will enable BLID to monitor the lake for potential road salt impacts.
  •  The BLID blog site has been updated.  Members were encouraged to visit it at  The blog serves as the repository of BLID related information and is upgraded on a regular basis.

The fish survey was completed on September 6, 2014.  It demonstrated that the only fish species impacted by the 2013-2014 winter kill was the largemouth bass.

The lake was stocked with 2,000 largemouth bass on October 16, 2014.  We should see results in 2016!
Special items in the 2015 -2016 plan include updating the BLID’s 2008 Sustainable Lake Management Plan, conducting a lake sediment survey, conducting a member survey, and painting the harvester.
The membership approved the 2016 budget of $13,000.  This will be presented for approval by the White Bear Lake City Council on October 27, 2015.
Tom Merritt was re-elected to a 3-year term on the board.  Tom serves as BLID treasurer.
Following the business meeting, Chip Welling, coordinator of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Plant Control program, gave a presentation on DNR programs to control aquatic invasive species.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Board of Director's Meeting September 17, 2015

Call to order at 7:03 PM with the following members present:  Dale Bacon, Steve Laliberte, Ryan Hoops, Jim Grisim, Tom Merritt.

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve agenda.  Motion carried.

Approval of the minutes
Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve the July 15, 2015 minutes.  Motion carried.

Review Treasurer’s Report
Motion: (Laliberte/Hoops) Move to accept report.  Motion carried.

Al Cook Request for Birch Lake PUD Restriction
Mr. Cook is seeking BLID support in a modification to the Birch Cove PUD to allow a motorized boat. 

Motion: (Laliberte/Hoops)   
Each taxable unit of the BLID is entitled to one dock and one restricted watercraft.

A restricted watercraft is defined as any boat or vessel for use on or stored on the public waters on the lake except for unrestricted watercraft.  An unrestricted watercraft is defined as a boat or vessel that is:

1) 16’ or less in length and has no motor; or

2) 16’ or less in length and  has a motor of 10 horsepower or less, as rated by the manufacturer at the time of manufacturer, whether or not the motor is operational; or

3) 20’ or less in length and has no motor, and that is propelled solely by human power

Motion: failed.

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) BLID supports the lake use restriction currently in effect in both Birch Cove and Cloisters associations for the long term benefit of the lake. 
Motion carried.

VLAMO Technical Commission
VLAMO is working on long term plan.  The rain garden fund has disbursed $18,000.  VLAMO is using new testing equipment to measure flow and nutrients. 

Blue Water Science Plant/Sediment Survey
An inspection was performed last week.  Milfoil is present but not increasing. 

Wetlands Restoration – There is a  lot on the North East corner that the city has an environmental easement.  We are seeking a joint project with VLAMO, BLID and White Bear Lake to restore the area to control water entering into the lake.

Harvester Maintenance
The hydraulic lines are cracked and close to leaking.   We have received a bid to replace the lines.  
Motion: (Hoops/Grisim) Approve $4,400 to replace the hoses on the harvester.  Motion Carried.

Motion: Move to Adjourn (Merritt, Laliberte) – Motion Carried.  Adjourned at 8:43 PM.

Next Meeting:  November 5, 2015

Minutes prepared by Steve Laliberte.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nesting Loons

One of the measures of the wildlife quality on Birch Lake is loon activity.

For a number of years, we have had a nesting pair of loons. 

This year I caught a picture of the happy couple with two babies. 

When I saw the loon from a distance I felt something was different.  The head did not look right. 

 This photo was take on June 12 at dusk.

As I got closer, it was not one head but 3.  The two babies were so young that they were still on moms back!

 By July 12, the babies had tripled in size.  They were swimming and fishing at a distance from mom and dad.

A closer look at the babies on July 12.  You can see that they are brown.  They are swimming and fishing and growing.

Board of Directors Meeting July 15, 2015

Call to order at 7:02 PM with the following members present:  Dale Bacon, Steve Laliberte, Ryan Hoops, Jim Grisim  Tom Merritt.

Motion (Laliberte/Hoops) Move to approve agenda.  Motion carried.

Approval of the minutes  -
Motion: (Bacon/Hoops) Move to approve the June 4, 2015 minutes.  Motion carried.

Review Treasurer’s Report
Motion: (Bacon/Hoops)

Harvester painting project
The paint job is complete.  The old paint was sand blasted.  16 gallons of paint were used.

The BLID owns a trailer for hauling weeds during harvesting.  This is only a few weeks per year.  A discussion was held regarding selling the trailer and renting it back. 

Motion (Laliberte/Grisim) Motion to sell the trailer to Rod Kruser for the fair market amount of $2,000.00.  Motion carried.

Officer Elections
Motion (Merritt/Hoops) President Bacon, Vice President Hoops, Treasurer Merritt, Secretary Laliberte.  Motion carried.

Brook Court Development Out Lot Discussion
There is a non buildable lot that is a holding pond for the development that flows into Birch Lake.  Bacon and Grisim met with Mark Birch of WBL and VLAMO to discuss a conservation project.
Harvesting plan for 2015
Wait for nature to tell us what to do.  Water is high so we don’t see the weeds.  We will tentatively plan for the last week of August.  We have the permit.

Boat Launch/Take Out Discussion
Motion (Grisim/Merrit) To have Dick Brink review the easement document to confirm that the BLID has the authority to open the easement twice a year for boat launch and take out for residents.  Motion carried.

Motion: Move to Adjourn (Merritt, Laliberte) – Motion Carried.  Adjourned at 8:07 PM.

Next Meeting:  August 20, 2015

Minutes prepared by Steve Laliberte.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 BLID Annual Report

Birch Lake Improvement District
2015 Annual Report
Birch Lake is a shallow, suburban lake with an area of 123 acres.  It is considered to be one of the healthiest lakes within the Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO).   Concerns over maintaining this quality led lake property owners to petition the City of White Bear Lake to form the Birch Lake Improvement District (BLID) in 2006.  The following is a report of BLID activities during 2013 - 2014. 
The lake continues to be the clearest lake in the VLAWMO watershed.  Consistent rainfall throughout the year has helped to maintain near record lake levels.  High water levels also helped to keep excessive aquatic plant growth in check.  With the exception of a recovering largemouth bass population, lake wildlife is prospering.  The resident loons have once again produced a pair of chicks!  The shore line restoration area provides vivid color throughout the summer.
During 2014 – 2015, the following activities were carried out by BLID:
The annual lake clean-up day was held on May 3, 2014.  12 residents participated.  BLID members also participated in the city Arbor Day activities.  Trees were planted along Highway 96 at the south end of Birch Lake.
BLID members continue to participate in VLAWMO Citizen’s Water Monitoring Program.   This involves taking biweekly lake water samples and making water clarity and lake level readings.
During winter months, BLID operates an aeration system to prevent complete fish kills due to oxygen depletion. 
2000 largemouth bass fingerlings were stocked in Birch Lake in October, 2014.
The 30+ year old harvester was painted in July.  This was a part of the continuing maintenance program for the harvester.  The hydraulic hoses will be replaced during 2015 – 2016. 
After undertaking DNR training, BLID is now listed as a certified lake services provider.
In 2015, aquatic plant growth was not sufficient to interfere with recreational boating.  No aquatic plant harvesting was carried out in 2015.
The Sustainable Lake management Plan will be updated during 2015-2016 to reflect increased emphasis on issues such as road salt and invasive species. The original plan was written in 2008 and serves as a guide to lake management activities.
BLID is working with VLAWMO to conduct routine, monthly chloride analysis of the lake at the 4 major inflow points.  This will establish a chloride baseline which will help to better understand the impact road salt runoff on the lake.
A plant/sediment survey was carried out by Blue Water science In September, 2015.  One of the objectives was to monitor the Eurasian milfoil infestation.
BLID plans to conduct a member survey by the end of 2015.  This survey will be compared to the 2011 survey to help identify member needs and concerns.
A quarterly newsletter is published in both print and electronic format.
 The blog has been updated and made more accessible.  The address is
 The ninth annual BLID meeting was held on June 17, 2015.  25 of the 63 parcels in the district were represented.  The 2016 budget operating budget of $13,000 was approved by the membership for submittal to the White Bear Lake city council.  Tom Merritt was re-elected to a three year term.
The next annual meeting is June 15, 2016.

Submitted for the BLID board by Dale Bacon, Chair

Friday, June 5, 2015

Board Minutes From June 4, 2015

Birch Lake Improvement District
Board of Directors
June 4, 2015 meeting minutes

Members Present:  Dale Bacon, Jim Grisim, Tom Merritt, Ryan Hoops.  Steve Laliberte absent. 

MOTION (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve agenda.  Motion Carried
MOTION (Merritt/Grisim) Move to approve minutes of April 16, 2105.  Motion carried
MOTION (Hoops/Grisim) Move to approve Treasurers report.  Motion carried
Status reports
a.      VLAWMO – Grisim discussed VLAWMOs involvement in the Whittaker Pond project which is dealing with water control at nursing home/serenity center

b.      Spring clean-up - approx. 10 people participated, little more than last year.  Photos in WB Press.  Successful day, would like ideas to get more turnout next year. 

c.     Harvester painting contract. Need to meet on site to go over specifics, want it done soon so that the paint can cure. Estimate 6-7 days of painting. $ 3650 estimate. Check with city to move harvester in lot closer to power and water source.  Grisim, Bacon, Merritt will meet on site to go over details.

d.     Blog/newsletter. Deliver before annual meeting.

e.     Inventory/storage – address next time
Action items
a.      Annual meeting – We will potentially have 2 speakers, Chip Welling from DNR & Steve McComas.  Review of year, budget presentation. Refreshments?

b.     2015 plan - Revisit sustainable lake management plan (SLMP), wetlands renewal at corner of Otter Lk Road & 4th St.  The SLMP needs to be updated

c.     Harvesting – too soon to tell how growth will be.  Will plan to harvest, get permit

d.     Buckthorn removal

e.     Sediment survey due to be done in 2015

f.      Member survey – could be done at annual mtg

g.     2016 budget proposal. levy proposed at $200
MOTION (Grisim/Merritt) Move to recommend levy of $200 per household. 3 aye, 1 nay (Hoops). Motion carried.

Election at meeting – Merritt will not be there but will serve if elected. 

Hoops attended planning commission meeting and discussed sidewalks.  Proposed 2030 plan

MOTION (Hoops/Grisim) Move to adjourn.  Motion carried. 

Meeting adjourned at 9:25 pm

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring 2015 Photo Corner

View From the Bench
By Tom Merritt

Bessie Birch Lake's Mystery Creature
By Dale Bacon

Spring 2015 Resources on Water Quality

Birch Lake’s historical water quality readings are shown on pages 17 – 23 of VLAWMO’s 2014 report.  This report also includes information on the all the lakes in the Vadnais Lake watershed district.

Here is the link to the MN DNR site that lists historical information on the water readings on Birch.

Spring 2015 Water Sampling on Birch Lake

Every summer water samples and visual readings are taken by residents on Birch Lake. Twice monthly from May through September, samples and readings are taken and handed over to our watershed staff, VLAWMO, for processing and evaluation. The reason for the sampling is to monitor several lakes and ponds within our watershed that were identified as having local significance.
Although VLAWMO began the Citizens Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP) in 1997, samples have been taken on Birch and sent into the DNR and the MN Pollution Control Association since the early 1930’s.
The testing involves taking multiple water samples from varying depths, measuring visual clarity with a Seechi disk, noting recent weather patterns that may have affected the readings, and listing the water depth off the DNR calibrated depth meter. Birch Lake volunteers take the samples and document this information and then give it to VLAWMO staff for processing.
The data received from the monitoring of Birch Lake and 11 other lakes within the VLAWMO’s district are used by the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to determine the health of the state's waters.

Water samplers come in all ages and levels of experience

Spring 2015 Lake Levels

As we all know, 2014 was a banner year for the water level in Birch Lake.  The lake level started out at 919.01 ft msl (feet above mean sea level) and peaked at 920.82 ft msl!  The water level was high enough so that water flowed into Rotary Park for most of the summer and fall.
While the lake level in January 2015 was 919.73 ft msl, less snow cover and a dry spring have resulted in an early June level of about 920.06 ft msl.  This level is about 9 inches lower than experienced in early June 2014 but is still high enough so that water is currently flowing into Rotary Park.
Historically, the water level in Birch Lake peaks in the June –July time frame and recedes about a foot by the end of the year.  While the lake level now is lower than last year, the June 2015 level is still about 2 feet higher that 2009!

Spring 2015 Clean Up Day

May 2 was a busy day for BLID volunteers. In addition to the annual lake clean up, members participated in the White Bear Lake Arbor Day.
Volunteers first worked with City Public Works staff to plant a number of trees along Highway 96.  The whole process was pretty easy.  The City staff had dug the holes.  All we had to remember was green end up! 
The lake clean up followed the tree planting activity.  About 10 volunteers were involved.  The area along the walking path was picked up in less than an hour!
The tree planting was a three way coalition between the City of White Bear Lake, the BLID and the White Bear Rotary.  Trees were planted along Highway 96 and in Rotary Park.
Thanks to all those who volunteered as well as to Super America and the City for providing refreshments! 
Ryan Hoops, Dale Bacon, Steve Laliberte, White Bear Rotary Volunteer, City of White Bear Lake  Employee, Cindy Hoops