|Lake Info - Area: 2066 acres of water. Twenty-two miles of shoreline with approximately 1/3 of the shoreline Federal land. Types of fish: Northern Pike, Walleye Pike, Crappie, Sunfish, Perch, Rock Bass, Whitefish, Tullibee, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Bullhead. Critters: Beaver. Otter, Ducks, Deer, Wolves, Chipmunks, Red Squirrels, Eagles, Ravens, Gulls, Loons, and many varieties of small birds.
Loon Count - Our Association has done a loon count of adults and babies for many years. We turn this data into the DNR yearly. They track long term trends.
Lake Level - In the late 1990’s Turtle Lake experienced some extremely high water levels. Our association hosted public meetings with property owners, the DNR, and the Chippewa National Forest Service. The purpose of these meetings was to determine lake levels that would best meet the needs of the majority of Turtle Lake owners while, at the same time be environmentally friendly. It was determined that levels of 1351.0 to 1351.8 feet above sea level were acceptable. 1351.8 feet is Turtle Lakes average high water level. It was further determined that a level of 1351.4 is ideal and levels of 1351.0 to 1351.4 is desirable over higher levels. The level of Turtle Lake is mostly controlled by the height of a beaver dam where the Turtle River flows from the lake. A lake level committee was formed. This committee’s job is to try to keep the lake level in the agreed upon desirable range of 1351.0 to 1351.4 and hopefully as close to 1351.4 as possible. The committee does this by removing portions of this beaver dam when water levels are too high. When the water level falls to the desirable range, the beaver are allowed to repair the dam. The water will then remain fairly constant until it rains again. Because measurements in feet above sea level are confusing it was decided that the level of 1351.4 would be called “0”. One inch higher would be called 1 inch while levels lower would be -1 inch, etc.
DNR Water Level Page for Turtle Lake: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/showlevel.html?id=31072500 .
Purple Loosestrife - Purple Loosestrife is a non native invasive plant species. Loosestrife was brought here in the 1950’s from Europe and planted in flower gardens. It spread to the wild where it is aggressive and crowds out native plants. According to the county our lake now has more wild loosestrife than nearly any lake in the county.
Our association has a committee to battle this plant. The committee’s goals are to:
1) Educate property owners on identification of loosestrife. If they identify it on their property we will assist them in a plan to get rid of it. (pull it, spray it, etc.) Most of our loosestrife is on private property.
2) Start a biological control program. This program consists of raising a small beetle which eats loosestrife and only loosestrife. The committee has raised and released over 100,000 beetles in stands of loosestrife on the lake.
3) Continue a program of spraying Rodeo on loosestrife in some areas of the lake. Rodeo is a DNR approved herbicide to be used on loosestrife near water.
Buoys - Our Association purchased buoys to mark shallow or dangerous areas in the lake. The buoys were donated to Itasca County to alleviate us of liability concerns. The Itasca County Sheriff's Department has taken over putting in and taking out the buoys. The total cost for the buoys was approximately $500.00.
Sechi Disk - Our Association has 4 volunteers that take disk readings at four locations or our lake. The secchi Disk is a white plate like device which is lowered into the water. The volunteer records when it disappears from sight. This is done to monitor water clarity. Water transparency can be an indicator of the impact of human activity on the land surrounding the lake and serve as an early warning that activities on the land are having an effect on the lake. Our volunteers take weekly readings which are then sent on to the Department of Natural Resources. They use this data to track long term trends. Our data is remarkable because it includes two sites that have been recorded with no gaps for 18 years. The DNR reports these are two of the best records in the entire state. In the mid 1980’s our Secchi Disk readings averaged 11 to 14 feet. They have slowly been increasing so in 2004 they averaged between 16 to 18 feet. This places us in one of the top 5 clearest lakes in the state.
Lake Assessment Through Water Testing- The Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) completed lake assessments of Turtle Lake in 1992 and 2000. Our board of directors voted to have another assessment done in 2004 and to have one done every three years. By doing this we can monitor changes in the chemical analysis of the lake. We test for phosphorus and chlorophyll-a. Phosphorus is bad and is caused by run off and/or inadequate sewer systems. It acts as a fertilizer which promotes algae blooms. Algae blooms increase chlorophyll-a and decrease water clarity. By testing every 3 years we can objectively monitor changes happening to our lake. We only test every 3 years because testing is expensive. It costs about $1,300.00 each time. This is approximately an entire year’s revenue generated by our $15.00 membership dues.
Catch & Release Program - With the increased fishing pressure on Turtle Lake, our Board of Directors voted to promote Catch & Release. We hope to educate property owners and resort visitors on the long term advantages of practicing Catch & Release. We try to accomplish this through such things as signs at boat landings and the distribution of educational brochures.
Lake Clean-Up - Our Association has adopted a program similar to the highway clean-up program. We are looking for families or individuals to sponsor a section of shoreline for clean up. Any size piece of shore is available. The sponsor merely cleans his section one time per year. It can be done anytime you select. Anybody wishing to help the TLA but thinking they don’t live up here or have time should get involved with this program. It’s a great way for weekenders to get involved.