What are we up to?
Throughout the year, Siseebakwet Lake Association partakes in various projects to ensure the health and happiness of our lake is up-to-snuff. Check out what we're currently working on, and then get involved!
Preserving Siseebakwet Lake History (2019)
We have LOTS of documents and pictures in need of organizing, research, and documentation. If you are interested in helping with this project, please email us! We will start a committee when we have enough volunteers to help aid in this very important process.
Electronic Newsletter (ongoing)
Improving communication to the SLA membership is a high priority for the SLA Board. In 2017, we set the goal to go completely paperless (for the sake of our environment and because we live in the technology age!) - our newsletter will be sent QUARTERLY. An email group with SLA members emails was developed and the first electronic newsletter was distributed the end of January 2017. JOIN THE LIST by filling out this form:
2. (2017) The Siseebakwet Lake Association website: www.siseebakwetlakeassociation.com
The purpose of the website is to be a resource center for SLA membership. The website is still under development and we welcome all suggestions for improvement and content on the website. Current thoughts for content is to eventually include newsletters and board minutes.
3. Weir Replacement
The Weir replacement project has been ongoing for over nine years. The vast majority of the work on the Weir has been done by Marvin Christenson and Tim Monson. The initial replacement solution consisted of a concrete Weir design. The SLA board held a special meeting with the DNR, SWCD and DNR fisheries in May of 2015 and reviewed the history of the lake water levels, the project and solutions options. The concrete design was discussed and the DNR (Erica Herr) and SWCD (Andy Arens) proposed a natural rock Weir built with large boulders which won’t move from ice heaves or tampering. The SLA contracted with the North Central Minnesota Joint Powers Board, which provides engineering services for SWCDs in a nine-county area, including Itasca County. Bill Westerberg is an engineer with the North Central Minnesota Joint Powers Board, designed a rock Weir for Sugar Brooke. Bids for the rock Weir were sent to multiple contractors and the cost was much more than originally projected. A Stone Soup fund was in initiated to raise money, to date the funds raised equals $17,970. The SLA board has made several grant requests to bridge the difference from money raised and the money needed to replace the Weir. In December 2016, we were notified that our request with the BWSR Clean Water Fund (CWF) Community Partners grant we applied for in August 2016 was not funded. In January of 2017 we applied for the Ecofootprint grant sponsored by Enbridge. Hopefully, this grant will be approved.
The history of the Weir in a timeline format is below. A special thanks to Marvin Christenson for assembling this data chronologically.
Maintaining the Siseebakwet (Sugar) Lake Water Surface Elevation
The Dam/Weir Saga
Managing the Sugar Lake water surface elevation is an important aspect of caring for the lake. Monitoring the elevation has been and is a focal point of Sugar Lake property owners.
With assistance provided by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), the Sugar Lake Association Board (SLAB) continually does what is needed to maintain the average lake water surface elevation, 1329.54 feet.
Following is a chronological presentation of lake water surface level related actions and events recorded by the Siseebakwet Lake Association Board (SLAB), DNR, SWCD and SWCD/Joint Powers Board.
The chronology is primarily structured as follows: occurrence date, actor(s), and action.
1900’s - RAPARIAN OWNER – DNR Lake records reveal that a wooden logging dam had been in place in Sugar Brook near the Sugar Brook outlet for some period during the early 1900’s.
8/31/1937 - RIPARIAN OWNER & DNR - 1328.24 feet is the first of 2,534 lake water surface elevation readings recorded to date.
5/21/1943 - RIPARIAN OWNER & DNR - 1330.59 feet is the highest lake water surface elevation reading recorded to date.
Winter 1949 - 1950 – RIPARIAN OWNER- Cleaned up and dredged 600 feet of Sugar Brook outlet channel to remove stumps, logs, and refuse which lowered the runout level about one foot.
9/13/1950 – DNR - DNR outlet survey is concluded, without availability of the natural runout level of the lake (before the dredging) and using historical lake water surface elevation records, showing that the loose rock dam crest elevation is correct at 1329.5 feet.
9/15/ 1950 – DNR - 1337.26 foot Bench Mark is set on large rock.
Fall 1950 - RIPARIAN OWNER - Loose rock dam is constructed at outlet to restore runout level.
1/9/1964 – DNR - 1331.26 foot Bench Mark is set in 14 inch Ash tree.
1/9/1964 – DNR - 1328.33 feet is the loose rock dam runout elevation. 1329.06 feet is the Lake water surface elevation.
1/13/1964 – DNR - DNR outlet inspection determined that the….”most logical spot for permanent spillway would be at site of present loose rock dam at outlet”. Arthur Otis….”resents being accused of lowering the lake by various owners on the lake. He says he is in favor of some type of permanent spillway”.
7/23/1964 - DNR –DNR recommends a more permanent barrier of concrete or steel piling to restore the runout level of the lake. It also suggests that…..”Funds, if not otherwise available to the county, could be donated by the property owners”.
12/9/1974 – DNR – DNR “Took a Stadia profile of the outlet at Sugar Lodge”. ….”There is a loose rock dam at the outlet….the outlet channel is substantially the same as in 1964… lake water surface elevation is 1329.7 feet. Runout elevation on loose rock dam is 1328.4 feet”
10/23/1978 – SLAB & DNR - 1328.40 feet is the lowest lake water surface elevation reading recorded to date.
8/30/1985 – DNR - “Low water complaint – suspected rock tampering in dam”.
6/29/1987 – DNR - “High water complaint – suspected rock tampering in dam – land owner admits to “building up” dam in order to restore lake level”.
7/15/1992 – DNR - “Low water complaint – suspected rock tampering in dam”.
7/20/1992 – DNR –DNR Surface Water/Hydrographic Services report –…“ Tampering of the dam is likely to continue, meaning a continuing need for monitoring and/or involvement on our part”.
8/9/1992 – SLAB – SLAB establishes a committee to determine an optimal lake water level and figure out a method of maintaining that level.
9/5/1992 – SLAB - A lake level control structure plan is proposed for presentation to county commissioners to seek assistance with construction financing.
9/27/1992 – DNR - The DNR Regional Hydrologist presents a detailed explanation of all factors relevant to determining the specifics of an applicable permanent lake water level control structure.
9/30/1992 – DNR – DNR conducts a Hydrographic Survey. Water surface elevation is 1329.66 feet. Runout elevation is 1328.80 feet at top of loose rock dam. Observes …”old make shift dam just downstream of current rock dam”.
2/10/1993 – DNR - Water Shed Analysis Report completed by DNR. Study concluded that the lake water surface level elevation has always been between 1329.0 feet and 1330.2 feet. (To date, actual low is 1328.40, and actual high is 1330.59).
4/8/1993 – SLAB - Installation of permanent structure will not be done. Instead, a “dam committee” will be formed to be the official watchdogs and guardians of the site.
4/19/1993 - SLAB & DNR –A stake showing the Ordinary High Water Level of 1330.0 feet and the proposed outlet level of 1329.0 feet will be installed for use as the Bench Mark for removing and replacing dam rocks.
8/17/1996 – SLAB - Lake level is low. …”some people have… removed some rocks.”
8/31/1996 – SLAB - Discussion with DNR regarding Weir dam construction is planned.
9/21/1996 - DNR - High Water Level stake is reset by DNR.
3/8/1997 – SLAB - Weir development process committee is proposed. One of two site property owners will only support dam construction if he can control the level of the dam ( it is to be a fixed level dam).
5/10/1997 – SLAB - Pursuit of the Weir development is ended.
8/29/1998 – SLAB – Rock tampering recurs. Rock committee continues to manage the rocks. High water level stake is reset at new location.
9/12/1998 – SLAB – Lake water surface elevation is 1329.22, the average low. Dam rocks had been removed.
Fall 199? – RIPARIAN OWNER – Loose rock dam is replaced, without obtaining a DNR permit, using the runout elevation 1330.0 feet specified by the DNR in outlet analysis report dated 2/10/1993. (The dam, which exists today, is constructed of two stacked Tamarack logs surrounded and supported by rocks).
8/31/2008 – RIPARIAN OWNER –deterioration of the dam and its surrounding area is discussed. An investigation of applicable erosion control products is initiated.
7/18/2009 – SLAB –Erosion control product investigation reveals that these products would help solve only part of the age caused outlet problems.
8/8/2009 – SLAB –SLAB approves a project to control erosion and maintain WEIR elevation at the outlet. The project components are identified and a four person project team is formed.
8/9/2011 - SLAB, DNR, and SWCD – The outlet is inspected and surveyed to determine the outlet elevation and extent of erosion problems
7/9/2012 – SLAB, DNR, SWCD –Survey of dam condition is conducted by the SLAB project team, DNR Area Hydrologist, SWCD Forestry/ Shoreland Specialist.
1/10/2013 – DNR –Statutes governing reconstruction or making changes to a dam and instructions for obtaining DNR authorization are received.
5/28/2013 – SLAB - Spring Pot Luck attendees briefed regarding need to answer Weir “Repair or Replace” question.
10/12/2013 – SLAB –Layout stakes are set at Weir site to outline structure of selected concrete Weir in preparation for creating its design drawings and renderings.
10/23/2013 – RIPARIAN OWNER – Site property owners indicate support for Weir construction.
Winter 2013 – RIPARIAN OWNER, SLAB - All of the riparian owners reached (88%) signed the petition to DNR to grant a permit to replace the Weir.
2/17/2014 – SLAB – Weir project permit application is submitted to DNR. SLAB recommends that DNR approve the concrete Weir design included with the completed application form.
4/16/2014 – DNR – DNR completes the construction permit application review. It requests additional information and requires a design change to the proposed concrete Weir.
10/31/2014 – SWCD /JPB, DNR – JPB engineer and DNR Area Hydrologist conduct assessment of Weir site. JPB engineer states…. “Currently water is leaking through the existing weir which is conveying sediment downstream in Sugar Brook. The leaking through the weir is going to get worse over time.” “Water will still flow past the West end of the Weir.” “DNR Fisheries told me that there are Smelt in lakes downstream of Sugar Lake, that they do not want to migrate into Sugar Lake.”
3/18/2015 –SWCD, SWCD/JPB – JPB engineer prepares existing Topography sheet showing collected survey information and presents proposal for preparing a Weir design.
5/22/2015 – SLAB, DNR, SWCD, SWCD /JPB – DNR reports that its new policy regarding dams states that concrete Weir construction will not be permitted. Future Weirs will be comprised of rocks.
SWCD/JPB engineer will prepare rock Weir design and oversee construction. Engineer provides a rough estimate of construction costs.
9/6/2015 – SLAB – “Buy a Stone” fund raising effort is initiated.
10/12/15 – SWCD/JPB – JPB engineer completes Siseebakwet Rock Weir design plan and construction specifications.
11/2/15 – ITASCA COUNTY – “Weir Restoration” Permit issued.
11/30/15 – DNR – “Public Waters Work Permit” issued.
2/3/2016 – Corps of Engineers – “General Permit” issued.
1/23/2016 – CONTRACTOR 1- submitted construction bid.
5/9/2016 - CONTRACTOR 2 –submitted construction bid.
6/10/ 2016 – CONTRACTOR 3- submitted construction bid.
7/2/2016 –SLAB – Construction contractor selection criteria set.
10/22/2016 – SLAB – 1329.52 feet is latest recorded lake water surface elevation reading.
10/28/2016 – SLAB, SWCD, and SWCD/JBPB –Met with Congressman Nolan’s staff person, Jordan Metsa, to discuss possibilities of obtaining funds from Federal and/or State programs. Investigation is active.
1/10/2017 – SWCD – SWCD identifies a grant program that provides funds for Weir type construction projects.
1/27/2017 – SLAB – The grant application is prepared and submitted.
Daily – SLAB – SLAB continues fund raising efforts.
Siseebakwet Lake Association projects are continuous and ever-changing. Please check back for updates, or send us any suggested updates via email.