Lake Steward Program Protects Water - Promotes Lake Associations

Are you a Lake Steward? Take the quiz and find out!

The Lake Steward Program is open to all MN Lake Associations that are current members of MLR.

If your Lake Association wants to participate in Lake Steward:

  1. Email Jeff Forester at with the names of your Lake Steward Volunteers, the name of your lake and full color high resolution copy of your lake association logo (vector format (i.e., AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS or a vector pdf)). He will email you boilerplate language you can use for an email to your members, the Lake Steward Criteria, and a Shoreline Restoration Resources list.
  2. Have your Lake Steward volunteers watch the training videos here: 
    1. Why Lake Stewards Works/How to Start Up Lake Stewards for Your Lake
    2. Lake Steward Volunteer Tool Kit
  3. Copy and Paste the "Are You a Lake Steward" online quiz above into an email, distribute to your members, and urge them to take the quiz.
  4. Responses will be forwarded to your Lake Steward volunteers. Follow up with interested landowners quickly to schedule a site visit.
  5. Do a complete evaluation of the site based on the Lake Steward criteria (below). Measure the shoreline, take pictures, assess shoreline against the Lake Steward criteria. Share resources with landowners who want to take steps to improve their shoreline.
  6. After you have judged that a property owner is a Lake Steward, email Jeff Forester and ask him to order a sign. Include the name and address of where you want them mailed as well as the names of the property owners and the feet of shoreline of their property. Production and shipping should take no more than two weeks. We will invoice you later, after determining shipping costs. MLR is supporting the program by paying 50% of the cost of the first 100 Lake Steward signs awarded. Please do not pre-order signs or order signs from some other printer. The signs are copyrighted.
  7. Deliver the signs, document with photographs, and publicize the Lake Steward Program in local media, your newsletter etc.

Criteria Lakeshore must meet to be a MLR Lake Steward

  1. There must be a buffer zone of native plants along at least 75% of the lakeshore that is at least 25 ft (25-50 ft) deep from water’s edge landward.  The other 25% of the lakeshore can be impervious such as beach, boathouse, deck.
  2. ​​Excluding impervious such as house or driveway, the remainder of the property must have at least 50% native trees, shrubs and plants.
  3. If there is riprap along shore, plants are allowed to grow in it.

  4. For plants in the aquatic zone, only the smallest number/amount can be removed that will allow access to the water for swimming and boating. 

  5. No broadcast fertilizer or herbicides/pesticides, including no mosquito spraying, nor aquatic treatments for plants or invertebrates.

  6. Septic system, if present, must be maintained according to best management practices, which usually includes pumping every 1-3 years depending on size of the system and number of people living at the property.

  7. There must be no evidence of stormwater runoff into the lake.  

  8. Fire pits can be detrimental to the lake because the ashes are high in phosphorus.  If there is a fire pit, it must be at least 25 ft (?50 ft) back from the water’s edge.  Pet waste should be picked up from the same area, and piles of leaves, grass clippings, etc. not permitted near the water where they could wash into the lake.

  9. Please allow fallen trees to remain in the water to provide habitat, unless they obstruct recreation access.

  10. Docks and lifts, if stored onshore, should be stacked so that the impervious surface affects the least area of the shoreline zone.

MLR Annual Report 2020



MLR Webinar Library

The Growing Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture Movement Could Save Lakes - Up the Creek Meats - 

Farmer Jim Chamberlain has been a leader in the emerging regnerative agriculture and soil health farming movement. In this webinar Jim will present an oveview of these practices, the impact these farm practices can have not only on water quality, but local communities, families and human health. Regenerative agriculture and soil health practices are also changing long established agricultural economic models. Jim Chamberlain will also let you know what lake home and cabin owners and Lake AssociAtions can do to support and advance this new model of agriculture as farmers work to not only raise food, but to do it in a way that protects our precious waters.


View the Recording of The Growing Soil Health & Regenerative Agriculture Movement Could Save Lakes - What You Can Do HERE:

Septic Secrets - 

A healthy septic system saves money and protects water quality. This webinar by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will cover what you can do as an owner to make sure that your septic system operates at peak efficiency. This will reduce costs and extend useful life of the system. If you love the lake, making sure your septic system is functioning properly is probably the most important thing you can do to protect it for the future.

View the Recording of Septic Secrets Here:

Forest for the Trees, How Humans Shaped the Northwoods

Author Jeff Forester will lead a discussion on his book The Forest for the Trees, How Humans Shaped the Northwoods. It is the ecological history of the BWCA, starting with tribal fire regimes, pioneer logging, industrial logging, US Forest Service fire suppression, designation as wilderness, and a return to setting fires in the area following the 1999 blow down event.

As we head into what will be another fire season, the roots of our catastrophic fires can be found in research done in the BWCA about a half century ago along with potential solutions.

View the Recording HERE:

One Watershed One Plan, How Lake Advocates Can Engage


In this webinar, you will learn about the Board of Water and Soil Resources’ One Watershed, One Plan program, and how you can get involved in developing ten-year plans to restore and protect local water resources.  Through the program, partnerships identify the most important issues and places in the watershed, set goals for the future, and create action plans to meet those goals. While this is a local-government led process, lake associations and others have an important role to play in providing input and in helping implement the plans once they are approved. 

View the Recording HERE:

Enhancerd Wake Watercraft Impact on Lakes

Enhanced wake technology, or wakeboard boats, use massive ballast tanks, a redesigned power train and huge engine to create large wakes that people can surf on. The surfer remains close to the boat and maximum speeds are perhaps 10 knots, so the surfer can talk with the passengers. These watercraft are quicklky becoming the most popular form of lake based recreation and represent one of the fastest growing sectors of the boating industry.

While they are fun, there is also risk. The massive wakes these boat put off can damage sensitive shorelines, docks and boats. They can imperil those in smaller watercraft. The thrust can go down 16 feet, destroying aquatic plants and churning up sediments. This webinar will introduce you to these boats, and cover the issues related to them.

View the recording HERE:


Stop AIS Spread During Fishing Tournaments - An Effective Program from Cass County and Muskies Inc.

A great program that has expanded beyond Cass County - let's take it statewide. Learn how.

Leaving a Lake Legacy - How to Pass the Lake Place to the Next Generation

Looking to plan for the future of your lake home or cabin? Join attorney David Salter in the Cabin Trust Webinar. David is a long time MLR member with a family cabin - he gets family legacy!

"Get the Lead Out" Protect Loons With Lead Tackle Alternatives

Between 100 and 200 loons are killed every year in Minnesota from ingesting lead fishing tackle, and well and many swans and other waterfowl. The MPCA and MLR partnered to present this webinar on what you and your lake associatgion can do to promote using safe fishing tackle alternatives.

MLR Update

Read all the latest in the MLR Update:  MLR Update March 2020

Our Mission

To protect Minnesota's lake and river heritage for current and future generations by forging powerful links among lakes, lake advocates, and policy makers.


  • Lead in efforts to fund and implement a comprehensive statewide plan to halt the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.
  • Work to reform lakeshore Property Taxes to protect lakeshore from overdevelopment and to keep the lake legacy affordable for future generations.
  • Strive to protect surface Water Quality in Minnesota with information and policy priorities.
  • Work with policy makers to advocate Aquatic Habitat measures, and work with Lake Association members to implement aquatic plant management.
  • Lead in advocating for strong Shoreline and Forestland Stewardship incentives.
  • Offer Legacy Seminars to help ensure the treasured family heritage of time a the lake or in the woods with family can continue for generations to come.


MSRPO has become Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates to reflect our broadening mission and member concerns. We were formed in 1994 to represent recreational property owners at the State Capitol but have since represented all who are not only interested in property taxes but in the overall health and well being of their surrounding environment.

From a few cabins on Lake Vermilion, MLR has grown to represent over 6,000 families that own lakeshore and forestland. Their issues now include not only major tax reform, but water quality, shoreline regulations, habitat protection, forest fragmentation, and shoreline over-development.