The purpose of the BLCA shall be to promote the care, improvement and general welfare of the Briggs Lake Chain (Big Elk, Julia, Rush, Briggs) and adjoining and connecting waters, and any other matters affected by or related to our purpose.

Briggs Lake Chain Association Receives $25,000 DNR Grant for Lakeshore Restoration, Plans Workshop for Property Owners

News Release

For Immediate Release

April 11, 2012


Briggs Lake Chain property owners will benefit again this year from funds provided to the lake association for shoreland restoration projects, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Shoreland Habitat Program.


With the Briggs Lake Chain [Big Elk, Briggs, Rush and Julia] and the Elk River on Minnesota's “impaired waters” list for several years, the Briggs Lake Chain Association [BLCA] is continuing it's focus on shoreland restoration. The BLCA's SERP [Shoreland Education Restoration Project] will provide funds to lakeshore property owners to restore their shorelands.   The Briggs Lake Chain Association will administer the funds to property owners, and provide education and assistance to establish these restoration projects.


“The BLCA and partners are working hard to return the water quality of the chain of lakes to unimpaired status.  Part of our effort is educating lake property owners on best management practices.  Another part of our effort is assisting property owners to actually restore their lakeshore with buffer strips and rain gardens, and to stop runoff of harmful nutrients,” Kenzie Phelps of the BLCA Healthy Lakes Committee said.  “It took years of neglect for our lakes to become impaired, and it will take years to undo the damage.  But what we do now is our legacy for the next generation, and we are trying to make it a positive one.” 


The BLCA, with assistance from the Sherburne Soil and Conservation District and MN Waters, has over the past several years helped fund and establish a number of restoration and rain garden projects.   With the SERP grant from the MN DNR Shoreland Habitat Program the BLCA plans to assist in establishing a minimum of 10 new projects by the end of 2012.  As part of SERP II, the BLCA is holding an introduction and planning workshop for interested property owners on April 21.  The workshop is free, and will be held at the Palmer Town Hall from 8:30 AM to noon.  The purpose of the workshop is to  get property owners started.  BLCA members who have already established restoration projects will provide technical assistance and labor for each new project.


About the Briggs Lake Chain Association

The BLCA is an active, volunteer lake association made up of residents on Big Elk Lake, Briggs Lake, Lake Julia, and Rush Lake.  In existence for over 50 years, the BLCA has been a steward for the care and improvement of the chain of lakes.  In 2006 Minnesota Waters recognized the BLCA as the “Lake Association of the Year” for all of Minnesota.  In addition to shoreland restoration, the association also has ongoing programs to monitor water quality, manage curly leaf pondweed [an invasive aquatic species known for aggressively clogging lake waters], and fix the negative impact of failed septic systems and other ground water runoff.



Ken Gosset, BLCA Vice President

Kenzie Phelps, BLCA Healthy Lakes Committee

Healthy Lakes Plan

In the summer of 2002 eight people from the Briggs Lake Chain Association participated in the Healthy Lakes Program sponsored by the Initiative Foundation, the Elk River Watershed Board, the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District and others. The goal of the program was to train participants in the continuing development of our Lake Management Plan designed is to maintain and improve the quality of our lakes so they will remain usable in the future.

On June 15, 2002, the Briggs Lake Chain Association held a visioning session attended by twenty- five persons. The focus was to discover how association members and other community persons viewed our lakes, which ultimately led to the 2003 Healthy Lakes Plan.

The Briggs Lake Association adopted the 2003 Healthy Lakes Plan as part of the association’s planning process, and has been implementing the plan each year since. The BLCA board updates it’s vision annually and sets goals for the following calendar year. The Healthy Lakes Committee has taken the responsibility to manage and update the Healthy Lakes Plan for 2007 and beyond. Within the association the plan is referred to as our  "lake management plan".


You can go to these sites and find information about all of the Briggs Lake Chain Lakes.


These are the Lake ID Numbers:

BIG ELK------71-0141
More healthy lakes information is also available on the BLCA Web site.
Information provided by Walt Munsterman

2012 Update: Mandatory Actions for Lake Service Providers:

DNR Maps of Curly-leaf Pondweed Survey 2009


The Flyover and Gentle Footprints

Please join us in fixing our lakes 

The Healthy Lakes Committee of the BLCA

Lake Water Quality Has Deteriorated

  • Since the glaciers melted thousands of years ago our lakes were doing fine until the 1940’s when the area started to be developed. Now, runoff from our yards is adding sediment to the lake bottom, making them shallower and putting more nutrients in the water to encourage algae and weed growth. About ten years ago, an aquatic invasive species, curly leaf pondweed, was introduced into our upper three lakes adding to the biomass/nutrient load that settles to the lake bottom when it dies and is stirred around in the lakes by watercraft propulsion units. What we property owners and lake users do, matters!
  • Since 2008, all four of our lakes have fallen into Impaired Waters Status according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Impaired waters are lakes, rivers, and streams that do not meet state water-quality standards, set to protect a body of water’s beneficial use, for one or more pollutants, in our case phosphorus and chlorophyll a.
  • The tests of water into and out of our lakes show the water is of lower quality when it leaves than when it entered. This means lakeshore residents are part of the problem. 

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  Pogo (Walt Kelly) 

What To Do?

  • There must be something we can do to fix our lakes.

Flyover Was Done and the Results Are In

  • We spent the bucks and had a winter and summer flyover done to collect data to assess how our properties surrounding the Briggs Lakes Chain might be affecting lake water quality. Since the problems identified are on our properties we, property owners, control fixing them. 
  • Various types of photos were taken and analyzed for potential lake water impact. Every one of the 630 properties around the lakes had the winter and summer series data examined and the experts drew conclusions and made recommendations. They wrote it down and printed pictures for us and gave us the data. We paid for a two-day training that graduated 12 groundtruth volunteers. We have a team for each lake and they have groundtruthed nearly 40 properties. Only 590 to go!


  • Groundtruthing is the second step in  the flyover process and where we are at now. Trained groundtruthers need to validate the flyover data. They need to look at properties with the owners’ cooperation and together examine the property for potential problems, and determine if there is a problem, the extent and source of the problem. It is an educational experience too. 
  • The flyover data shows that nobody’s property on our lakes is perfect. Everyone can do a little more to control runoff from entering our lakes. When you look at your property with this in mind your point of view alters so you notice hanges you can make to prevent nutrients from entering the lake from your own yard.
  • It’s an educational process 

Property Owners’ Mission

After groundtruthing and validating flyover data, the mission of property owners is to prioritize actions to minimize the adverse impacts of the pollution from their yards. 

Take action. Some of the properties already groundtruthed have taken corrective actions to fix problems and 

to implement flyover recommendations. Others are making plans to take advantage of grant money to make major modifications to their shorelines next spring. 

Grant Money

  • As grant money is limited and distributed on a first come first served basis, property owners will want to schedule groundtruthing as soon as possible so they can determine problems and how to fix them.
  • Our groundtruth teams plan on working as late into this fall as weather permits and resuming after ice out. Getting the groundtruthing out of the way leaves time to make plans and apply for grants before grant money vanishes and contractors get too busy to do new projects. 

Our Groundtruth Teams

Briggs Lake: John Schnell — Team Leader 

George & Barb Kydd
Jane Curtis
Sue & Dan Merchant

Big Elk Lake Wayne Smith — Team Leader 

Barb & Darrell Tucker

Rush Lake Walt Munsterman — Team Leader 

Bud Summers

Lake Julia Mike Flanery — Team Leader 

Karen Jones
Kenzie Phelps

Groundtruth Update

  • Our BLCA groundtruth volunteers have been busy groundtruthing since the end of August. Nearly all of the property  owners who signed up at the July Flyover meeting have been visited.
  •  40 properties have been groundtruthed
  •  65 property owners have signed up for groundtruthing.
  •  Groundtruthing will resume after ice out after weather ends the program this fall. 

Schedule a Groundtruthing

  • A flexible schedule helps because the groundtruthers are volunteers with other commitments, but they want to meet with you.
  • Property owners wanting to schedule a groundtruthing should feel free to Email me, Dan Merchant at the BLCA  website —

Please Join Us In Fixing Our Lakes
Dan Merchant
President BLCA

Healthy lakes

Under construction