Archives: From the President

Recently a good friend of Big Fish Lake passed away.  On May 3rd the funeral for Dagny Christiansen took place. Over the years Dagny supported the efforts of BFLA to protect and maintain our treasured resource.  Dagny was one of the major supporters and contributors to the Big Fish Lake Conservancy Fund.  She truely loved the lake.  Her support will  be missed but her spirit lives on.  Our deepest sympathy to Dagny’s family.

Lake Improvement District

As you may know Big Fish Lake Association is doing a petition drive together to form a Lake Improvement District, (LID).  Below is a copy of what was sent to all property owners around the lake along with the petition itself.  If you own property on the lake and did not receive these forms in the mail please contact me, Jim Sand at 320-241-5919


Why Big Fish Lake needs a Lake Improvement District (LID)

Background: Big Fish Lake Association (BFLA) has 119 members, an increase of over 40 memberships from just 5 years ago.  That’s great news, but with 221 lake lots, that puts memberships at only 54%.  Our dues are currently $25.00 per year and cover our annual budget of $2,800.00.  This year we will spend roughly $9,000.00 on limited boat inspections at the DNR Landing. The money to pay for these inspections comes from our fund raising efforts, grant dollars, and interest from our Conservancy Fund.  Future grant dollars are getting harder and harder to acquire, and we cannot depend on future fundraisers to pay our bills.

What is a Lake Improvement District?  A LID is a form of local representative government that implements projects that affect the overall quality of the lake.  The County establishes it once residents of the lake petition the County to set up the LID.

What the LID is NOT:  When you read the petition to form the LID, you will notice we do NOT list any mention of sewer and water around the lake; nor do we mention restricting any water surface usage.  Our main goal is to fund Aquatic Invasive Species, (AIS) efforts and maintain or improve our water quality in an equitable way for all property owners.

How is the LID funded?  At an annual meeting of all members of the LID, a budget is proposed and voted on.  If passed, property owners will be assessed on their taxes their share of the LID’s budget.  There are two methods to figure out each property owner’s share: 1. Based on a percentage of their property value or 2. An equal share by all property owners.   The proposed method for the Big Fish Lake Lake Improvement District is the equal share method.  If the LID’s budget were $13,260 a year, a property owner would then have roughly $60.00 added to their taxes.

How do LIDs compare to Lake Associations in securing grant dollars?  Although LIDs are relatively new, it appears that LIDs have been doing well in securing very limited grant dollars.

Why not just increase BFLA dues?  Staying with the budget figure of $13,260 a year, and with our current membership of 119 members, individual dues would be $111.43.  It would also mean that 53% of the property owners would be paying the costs for the entire lake, while 47% of the lakes property owners would pay nothing.  The LID makes sense in that it is the most fair and equitable method of sharing the cost of protecting the treasure of the lake that we are all fortunate enough to have property on.  Going forward, it is the goal of the LID to continue to see Big Fish Lake properties as not just the envy of the county, but as a continued success story within the state.

What will happen to BFLA?  Big Fish Lake Association will continue to be a voluntary organization and will support all efforts by the LID to protect our lake.  Interest from our Conservancy Fund will be used to promote projects such as shoreline restoration, rain gardens, and maintaining the loon-nesting program.

If you have any questions on the LID please feel free to contact BFLA President Jim Sand at 320-685-3084 or We are planning an informational meeting on Saturday, October 19th at the Collegeville Township Hall at 9:00AM.  At this meeting, we will attempt to answer any questions you may have.




Please return the petition form by November 1, 2013 in the self-addressed, stamped envelope if you agree to form a Lake Improvement District for Big Fish Lake.   





The undersigned petitioner(s) hereby request that the Stearns County Board of

Commissioners order the establishment of a Lake Improvement District as proposed and grant

such power and authority as is provided in MN Statute Section 103B.551, subd. 3 including the

power to levy an additional tax within the District for the purpose of financing necessary activities

such as:

1.     Conduct programs of water improvement and conservation.

2.     Serve as local sponsor/recipient for state, federal and private project grants.

3.     Apply for and comply with DNR and other agency and local permits and policies required for specific lake management projects.

4.     Implement a water monitoring program.

5.     Undertake lake research projects.

This Petition may be executed in any number of counterparts, each of which shall be

considered an original and all of such counterparts, taken together, shall constitute the same


In witness whereof, the undersigned have executed this Petition as of the ________ day

of ___________, 2013.

Signature:    ___________________________________

Print Name:___________________________________

Parcel # or Lake Address:________________________


Signature:    __________________________________

Print Name:___________________________________

Parcel # or Lake Address:________________________


Please return this form by November 1, 2013 in the self-addressed, stamped envelope if you agree to form a Lake Improvement District for Big Fish Lake.


Dear Friends of Big Fish Lake

BFLA has had a very active summer of 2012.  We have worked on boat landing inspections, loon nests, treatment of the Northern Rearing Pond, Fund Raiser, July 4th boat parade, Social, water testing and monitoring land development around the lake.  I encourage all to attend the September 8th, 2012 Full Membership Meeting being held at Collegeville Township Hall beginning at 9:00 a.m.

June Full Membership Meeting

Saturday June 11th
Full Membership Meeting
10:00 a.m.
Collegeville Township Hall

Guest Speaker:  Anne Nelson, Stearns County Environmental Services

Topic:  The Role and Importance of Wetlands to our Lake

Hope to see most of you at the meeting.

Please pass this email on to others you feel would be interested in what is going on at Big Fish Lake.

Jim Sand, Pres.






Spring 2011



Dear Friends of Big Fish Lake,


Winter is now on its last legs and I can see the Loon nests out back up against the trees, a labor of love is waiting.  Once the ice is out the nest go in the lake.

The Lake Association has been very busy over the winter getting things geared up for another summer of  lake life.   By now property owners on the lake should have received membership materials for the BFLA.  Our membership has been very low the past few years, roughly 37%.  Our hope is to raise that level to over 80% in the next two years.  For only $25 a year your membership dues can help us maintain and improve the overall water quality.  Even if you don’t own property but spend time on the lake your membership is also welcomed.

Alexander Point is now platted and we look forward to getting new neighbors on the 20 new lots.  The Alexander’s should be commended on making choices that had the least amount of impact on the lake as they developed their property.  We look forward to having them work with the BFLA in the future.

Wetlands:  The wetlands that surround the lake are one of natures best filters for us and the BFLA has taken the position that reduction of those lands would have a negative impact on the water quality of the lake.

Farmland:  We are very close to having over 32 acres of farm land that was planted in corn last year put into native grasses this year.  These set aside acres will also help with reducing Ag run off into our lake.  We have also talked with one other landowner on putting his land into a set aside program.

Education:  We hope to be able to get information packets put together to give to the many boaters and fishing enthusiasts who use the lake.  Current laws and rules as well as invasive species information will be included in the packets.

Conservancy Fund:  The  Board is looking at an opportunity to add $10,000 to our Conservancy Fund if we can match that amount in the next 2 years.  It would mean that we would have to come up with the match and change foundations that currently handle those funds.   Board Members raised many questions and a decision has been tabled until our next meeting.

IRS 501(c)3 Status:  We continue to work with Association Member Paul Steil on securing IRS 501©3 status.  Hope to have the application process completed yet this Spring.

New Lot Development:  There is currently a purchase agreement in place for the entire farm of Dee Dee Bruyere  that would add an additional 4 lake lots.  This development is covered under the rules and regulations of the Avon Hills Initiative and 80% of the land would be put into conservation.  This new addition would be called Conservation on Big Fish.  The Board will follow this development as it proceeds.

2011 Lakes and Rivers Conference:  Minnesota Waters is hosting a 2 day conference on April 28th and 29th.  If interested their web site is for further details.


On Saturday June 11th at the Collegeville Township Hall at 10:00 a.m. we will have one of the two annual full membership meetings.  Please attend and share your thoughts with us.

Jim Sand, Pres.



President Rena Weber

Good Morning Residents of Big Fish Lake and welcome back to those of you who miss the wonders of winter.  It has been some time since the Board has updated you on what has been happening so I have invited members of the Board to contribute to the newsletter.  After all, it takes teamwork to accomplish a lot of things.

HEALTHY LAKES & RIVERS PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM (HLRP)- Members of the Association Board recently spent two evenings training how to be good leaders, how to update the Lake Management Plan, and further where to apply for money to achieve success.  The training was put on by Central MN Initiative Foundation with donations from various agencies.  Part of the HLRP process is to host a visionary session.  This was last done in the fall of 2002.  Members have changed, but basically the vision has stayed the same.  There is renewed interest in completing projects.  To do this and more we will need to hear from all of you.  A visionary session will be held on August 14th, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. American Legion – Cold Spring.  It seems a lot of members are gone by the beginning of September.  More information on this will be forthcoming.

MEMBERSHIP AND DUES – Through the HLRP program members discussed the membership or lack thereof.  We really want people to know that there are good things happening and want to include more of you in the successes and celebrations.  It is the goal of the Board to individually visit with our neighbors and hopefully word of what is happening will entice people to join and be a part of making this the best lake it can be.

At the fall meeting of 2009 – association members voted to set the annual dues at $25.00 per year.  The dues are payable at the 1stof the year.  Right now we have people paying at various times ant that makes it hard to keep track of.  The Board is looking at on-going projects that will cost money.  I will address those in the budget.


Let me first start by saying thanks for everyone who has volunteered their time to the team.  The volunteering is not changing.  No-one is looking to get paid for what we do.  We do it because we care.  As with any organization you need structure and a basis for what you do.  The Big Fish Lake Association is incorporated and the Board is looking into 501c3 status.  That has not been determined yet, but we are getting donations from people and just want to be sure we handle that correctly.  The fund raiser was a huge success and we hope to continue holding them.  The 2010 budget is:


Postage for Newsletters            (200 x $ .44 x 3)                        $264.00

Printing Newsletters (200 x $51.40 x 3)                              155.00

Web-site Domain/Webmaster                                           400.00

E-mail Service                                                                 140.00

Water Quality Testing                                                       800.00

Minnesota Waters Dues                                                   150.00

Board Training/Conferences                                             300.00

President Discretion Fund                                                250.00

Fund Raising Start-up                                                      200.00

Membership Materials                                                      300.00

Annual Meeting – bldg. rent, coffee/cookies                     200.00

Loon Nest Upkeep and upgrades                                       50.00

Miscellaneous Expenses                                                 291.00

TOTAL EXPENSE                                                       $3,500.00


Current Balance (after $5,000 for matching IF Grant)    $4,176.53

Donation for Water Quality Testing                                   400.00

2010 Dues (80 property owners x $25)                          2,000.00

TOTAL INCOME                                                          $6,576.53

LESS 2010 EXPENSES                                                $3500.00

PROJECTED BALANCE GOING INTO 2011                   $3,076.53




JUNE 12, 2010

10:00 A.M.

  • 1. Call to order
  • 2. Quorum declaration
  • 3. Approval of minutes
  • 4. Treasurer’s Report
  • 5. Secchi Dish Report
  • 6. Guest Speaker – Pam Perry – DNR “Loons”
  • 7. Updates:

HLRP Grant –

a) Curly leaf pond weed mapping

b)  Working with area farmers

c)  Shoreland restoration projects

Visioning Session reminder

  • 8. Election of Officers
  • 9. By-Law Change
  • 10. Other Business
  • 11. Adjourn



SUCCESSES OF 2009 – The Board is thankful that the Alexander family worked with us to put together a plan for their development that is mindful of the lake.  Concessions were made for the better and I know they were not made easily.  All of the letters, attendance at meetings by you – the members, went a long way.  With the help of technology (e-mail) we were able to gather enough names to sign a petition requesting an EAW (Environmental Assessment Worksheet) in short order.  That, however, did not warrant approval of the Stearns County Board of Commissioners.

There are undoubtedly concerns for the traffic that will be created by 20 new homes.  The Board is working with Collegeville Township on a solution to prohibit parking on at a least a portion of Big Fish Lake Road (by the access).  This may need a petition signed by everyone that uses the road.  So be looking for that or feel free to volunteer getting those signatures.

“Our loons” prospered.  It is rare to have two sets on the same lake much less three.  Remember to be mindful of them when boating.

How about that fund raiser?  With some of the money raised the Board will engage the services of a firm that will update the curly leaf pondweed map.  From there we can determine a plan of action on how it will be taken care of.  The fund raising group is looking into to selling shirts with the new Big Fish Lake logo on it.

The Board wants to build on the sense that we really are a community.  Look for events such as the fund raiser, possibly a summer picnic, Thursday night rides around the lake, and for sure the 4th of July Parade.  I have learned that if you say the parade is always on the 4th and it starts at 2 p.m. – Daniel’s Bay eventually people get used to it.  Where is Daniel’s Bay?  Well, that is on the SW side of the lake, around the corner of Alexander’s point, and nowhere near the old main beach.  This is not organized, and a traveling trophy is the prize coveted by anyone who gets it.