Big Pine Lake - Spring Newsletter 2016

2016 BPLA Spring Newsletter

Spring Greetings!

Although milder than usual, winter seems to have continued into spring – hopefully it will end soon!  The Big Pine Lake Association Board of Directors wishes to update our members on recent news, current status and future activities that should be of interest to them and all property owners on Big Pine Lake.  We also want to encourage all property owners to get involved in 2016 summer activities that will get us better acquainted and also to share in the programs and benefits of membership in our Lake Association.

Newsletter Distribution:  As you may recall, in order to improve the timeliness and efficiency of communicating with our members, we began distributing newsletters by email last year so it is imperative that we have an email address for every member.  We will also continue to post each newsletter on our web site at

BPLA Memberships:  Last year the BPLA Board of Directors changed our annual membership period from a calendar year to a more seasonally aligned time period.  Annual memberships are now effective from May 1 until April 30 the following year and will be referred to by the year in which they began.  We currently have 52 paid memberships that began on May 1, 2015, and will expire on April 30, 2016.  The price of an annual membership remains at $25.  Membership renewals for 2016 will be due beginning May 1, 2016.  Please mail your dues payment to: Big Pine Lake Association, PO Box 756, Crosslake, MN 56442

Note: Membership dues may be combined with payment for subscription in the 2016

Mosquito Management Program (offered below).

2016 Environmental Mosquito Management Program:  The northward migration of the Zika virus is increasing awareness of the need for effective mosquito management in all living, working and recreational areas.   We are pleased to announce and offer subscriptions to the 2016 BPLA Environmental Mosquito Management (EMM) Program.

This program is sponsored and administered by the BPLA on behalf of its members at no additional cost beyond the annual program subscription fee.  Non-members are also welcome to subscribe for an additional administrative fee of $10.  Note: a direct mailing will also be sent to non-members to solicit broader participation in the 2016 EMM Program.  We had 25 subscribers last year and hope to have more this year.

Highlights of the BPLA 2016 Environmental Mosquito Management program, provided by Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management, Inc., include:

  • (9) Truck-based Ultra Low Volume (ULV) treatments along driveways and roads
  • (9) Backpack-based Barrier Control treatments around property perimeter
  • Comprehensive insurance coverage for BPLA
  • Program Consulting & Quality Control Staff
  • Citizen Mosquito Hotline: (800) 942-2555
  • Local, state, and federal regulatory compliance
  • Digital customer database record keeping
  • First application will commence the week before Memorial Day weekend
  • Clarke will hold the 2015 price of $55 per treatment per customer ($495 + tax for the entire season)

Seasonal subscriptions MUST be paid to BPLA no later than May 16th in order to participate in the 2016 program

Please send payment to: Big Pine Lake Association, PO Box 756, Crosslake, MN 56442

  • BPLA Members – $529.03 ($495 + 6.875% tax)
  • Non-Members – $539.03 (includes additional $10 administrative fee)

NOTE: You may include $25 for a new BPLA Membership or Membership renewal with your EMM subscription for a total of $554.03 ($529.03 + $25)
For questions or further information, please contact Ken Ormsbee at (612) 963-1660 or

As was the case last year, we did seek-out pricing from two other firms that perform a service similar to Clarke’s.  One firm’s price was $685.00 and the other, $625.00.  Only (8) Backpack-based Barrier Control treatments were included for that price and no ULV treatments were provided at all.

Water Quality Monitoring: We hope to continue our participation in the monthly water quality monitoring program sponsored by the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association.  The 2016 Kickoff meeting will be held at 9 AM on Monday, May 9, at the Army Corp of Engineers office near the Pine River Dam in Crosslake.  We would really appreciate having one or two volunteers take over this responsibility from the Board.  It requires a boat and about one hour of time on one day each month.  Please contact Tom Veeninga at if you are interested in helping.

Lake Level Minnesota Program:  Big Pine Lake will continue to participate in the Lake Level Minnesota Program for 2016.  The measuring gauge for Big Pine Lake will again be installed near the dock at 14145 Sugarloaf Road where daily readings will be observed and reported by a Board member.  Daily measurements taken during the summers of 2014 and 2015 are available to the public through the DNR Lake Finder online application using Lake ID = 18026100 or by clicking on this web address:

Historical water level data will be extremely useful in redesigning and reconfiguring our current rock dam.  To learn more about the Lake Level Minnesota program, please visit the following web address:

Big Pine Lake Rock Dam Permanent Reconfiguration and Renovation Project: Following the rock dam maintenance and restoration work that was completed in September 2015, BPLA board members met with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Northern Minnesota Streams and Rivers Specialist in October.  The meeting was a follow-up to previous conversations with the DNR wherein a preliminary offer was extended to assist BPLA and Crow Wing County (CWC) in developing a reconfigured rock dam design.  The design option recommended by SEH Inc. in their CWC-funded Big Pine Lake (BPL) Water Control Planning Study, completed in August 2014, was to construct a new sheet pile weir just downstream of the existing rock dam.  The DNR’s feedback was that such a design would be significantly more expensive, more difficult to permit, and less likely to receive grant funding than the conceptual design being offered by the DNR.

What the DNR folks have conceptualized is an augmentation and reconfiguration of our existing dam intended to:

  1. Strengthen the area where the east end of the dam adjoins land,
  2. Minimize east end water infiltration
  3. Reshape the front of the existing dam by adding rock so as to shift the water and energy generated during high water flows toward the center of the river channel via an upstream-arched rock riffle
  4. Quickly and effectively dissipate large quantities of water
  5. Facilitate upstream fish migration and improve fish habitat upstream of the rock dam.

The DNR has already performed surveying and hydraulic modeling work on our behalf and is now working with the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) on preliminary design documents to be included as part of an application that will be submitted for grant funding.  We have identified a specific grant that has the potential to fund all but 10% of the reconfiguration and renovation project’s cost.

We will be approaching design development, cost-estimating, procurement, grant application preparation and submittal, project funding, and construction management as an integrated team.  The SWCD will be the entity submitting the grant application on the team’s behalf and they will coordinate activities between team members.  They will also provide cost-estimating and procurement services related to project construction.  The DNR will provide subject matter expertise, establish the project’s design intent, and collaborate with the SWCD and the MN Board of Water & Soil Resources’ (BWSR) SWCD North Central Region 8 Technical Services Area (TSA) to provide expertise and guidance related to streams, rivers, water control structures, and habitat improvement.  The TSA will bring CAD design and technical engineering capabilities to the team.  Some services are provided as part of TSA’s ongoing mission; more detailed engineering and technical services will likely be fee-based.  The cost of TSA’s fee-based services are typically lower than those of private-sector consulting engineering firms.

The DNR is the permitting authority for the dam’s fish passage structure and for the required Public Waters Work permit.  Having DNR leading the design effort will obviously be beneficial with regard to permit approval.  Regarding the new design, the intent is to maintain all currently permitted elevations in order to simplify permitting and decrease the odds of incurring permit authority resistance or unnecessary expense.  Other permitting authorities on the project include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and CWC.  As owner of the BPL rock dam and manager of the BPL Subordinate Service District (SSD), CWC will also be an active partner on the project and will oversee construction in collaboration with the SWCD.

Lastly, BPLA will be a named team member on the grant application and will coordinate communications between the parties, participate in the grant writing process, and assist with schedule management. Our timing objective is for the SWCD to submit the grant application this September, but a significant amount of work must be completed in a very short period of time for that to happen.  We will provide a progress update on the BPLA website during the summer season and will also provide a detailed update at the BPLA 2016 Annual Meeting in August.

Social Activities and Events: Building on our initial efforts in 2015, we plan to expand our social events and activities this summer.  To kick-off our 2016 social activities, we are planning a Volunteer Trash Pick-up event for Saturday, May 21st.  Volunteers will meet at the public access parking area at 10 AM, form into teams, be assigned their pickup route and reconvene at the rock dam at 11:30 AM for a hot dog roast.  The lake association will provide hot dogs, brats and beverages.  This should be a great way to get some exercise, meet other lake residents, and demonstrate our local community pride; so please mark your calendars and plan to join us!

We are planning to host a second Family Fishing Tournament on Saturday, July 2 (rain date July 3).  With our growing membership, we will be limiting participation to BPLA members and their guests, so mark your calendars, invite your families and friends, and plan to enjoy the fun this summer.  With over 100 attendees enjoying our first tournament last year, we also learned a lot that should help us improve this year’s event.

The lake association is again asking for volunteers to host a two-hour Saturday morning “Coffee and Conversation” get-together at their lake cabin.  Last year we had 16 participants at our first-ever event and we are hoping to have at least two more of these activities this summer, possibly in early June and late July.  Actual dates and locations will be identified in email announcements and with entry area signs.  Please contact Bill and Ann Korchik (; 612-469-5017) if you can host one of these events.  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet your neighbors and get updated on association news.

Finally, the BPLA Annual Meeting will again be held at the Crosslake Community Center on Saturday, August 20.  Meeting reminders will be communicated to all members via email and entry area signs will be posted well in advance of the meeting.

Big Pine Lake Association Website Redesign: We are very pleased to announce that our BPLA website has a brand new face.  Thanks to talented web designer, Christina Jensen, who is Terri and Richard Rammer’s daughter, our website has an updated look and feel that makes it easier to navigate and gives it a fresh, clean, and modern look.  Purely out of the goodness of her heart, Christina has been supporting BPLA for years even though she rarely gets to visit since she lives in California.

Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done for BPLA over the years, Christina!  The website turned out really well and is something we’re proud to share with the world.  The BPLA board and our members truly appreciate your valuable and excellent efforts!

As a reminder, our website is located at  You’ll notice that the top menu contains a Gallery button that will take you to photos already submitted by BPLA members.  We encourage you to email your favorite photos to, which you can also find on the BPLA website at the Contacts page.  We’ll do our best to get your pictures posted promptly for all to enjoy!

Fish Stocking Initiative: This past winter, Steve Rozek began working with Mike Knapp, Assistant Area Fisheries Supervisor for the DNR to develop a long term fish stocking/management plan for Big Pine Lake.  Their primary focus was improving our crappie population.  Following are some highlights of their findings and recommendations:

  • Crappie populations tend to fluctuate every 3-5 years, depending on spawning success.  Sometimes a stocking effort is needed to jump start the species.  We believe this is the case with Big Pine Lake.
  • As with all species, spawning is better than stocking.
  • Our 2015 stocking of 5,000 3”-4” fish was a small stocking effort compared to what our lake can handle.
  • A stocking of 20,000 3”- 4” crappies would be a large stocking and would most likely create a “new” year-class of fish.
  • Stocking should be done every other year so that there is enough food for the size fish being stocked.  However, we could stock 5,000 fish every year and be okay because these are considered small quantities for our lake.
  • We are probably better off doing another stocking in 2017, possibly one that is more significant that the 2015 effort.
  • Crappies grow 2 inches per year.  Harvest size typically begins with 8” – 9” fish.  So, it takes 4-5 years to grow a good fish.  Big Pine Lake is food-rich for panfish.
  • It is important to keep our stocking efforts “under the radar”.  If area fishermen get wind of our efforts we’ll never know if the stocking works because fishing pressure will increase.
  • Our lake will be netted in 2019 by the DNR to determine fish populations by species.  It would be good if we stocked in 2017 so that we could see what age class of fish are in the lake (2015, 2017, etc.). After the netting, our stocking plan will be re-addressed.  The DNR will age the crappies to see what year they hatched.
  • Sunfish grow at 1” per year.  It takes nearly 8 years to grow a nice sunfish.  Large sunfish should be released.
  • Walleye stocking is not recommended.  Walleyes are most likely moving downstream and upstream, using the rock dam to enter and exit the lake.  We do have good spawning habitat in our river system, and we do have walleyes in Big Pine Lake.  They most likely favor the river more than the lake since they are natural river fish.
  • No stocking is needed for bass or northern pike, as they are very effective at reproducing in Big Pine.  It’s really the size of the fish that we need to focus on protecting.  Northern Pike under 22” should be kept, whereas 22” – 28” Northerns should be released.  Catch and release should be employed for large bass.
  • Whether crappie, sunfish, bass, or northern pike, the reason for releasing large fish is to encourage and enable the development of trophy size fish.

Unfortunately, the DNR has no funds to participate in a fish stocking program for Big Pine Lake. Our program must continue to be funded by private donations from supportive property owners and fishing enthusiasts.  If you or your family members love to fish on Big Pine Lake, please consider making at least a $100 donation for the exclusive purpose supporting the BPLA Fish Stocking Initiative.  Checks should be mailed to: Tom Veeninga, BPLA Treasurer, Big Pine Lake Association, PO Box 756, Crosslake, MN 56442

Treasurer’s Report:  The balance of the BPLA operating account as of March 31, 2016 is $7,397.40.  The balance of the SSD account for dam maintenance as of January 1, 2016 is $23,462.11.

We look forward to another enjoyable summer on Big Pine Lake.  Your ideas and suggestions for making our association more effective and valuable for all members are welcome and will be appreciated.  Also important is your involvement in projects, activities, and events that will improve our lake-living experience and property values for years to come.  Please let us know how you can help.


Thanks in advance,

Your BPLA Board of Directors


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