Exploring Weather and Lake Level Data

It’s been a wet, active, and memorable spring in Aitkin County!

Last summer’s drought is all but a distant memory during this wet spring. All of Aitkin County (and most of Minnesota) has shed any lingering drought status. That said, even with the never-ending rain, we’ve had worse; April was only the 46th wettest April on record for Aitkin County. These statistics and more can be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Drought.gov site, linked here: https://www.drought.gov/states/minnesota/county/Aitkin

A graph of historical conditions in Aitkin County; years with dark blue peaks were exceptionally wet, while dark red indicates high levels of drought.

That said, it has been a wet spring, and in Aitkin County, that means lots of wondering about lake levels.

Lake levels on most of Aitkin County’s lakes are not regularly monitored by the Aitkin County SWCD. However, the DNR may complete their own monitoring — search for your lake with the DNR’s LakeFinder tool. After clicking on the Lake Finder link, you can type in the lake name and/or the name of the county the lake is located in.

The MN DNR Lake Finder page for Mille Lacs Lake.

Curious to know how this summer’s weather is shaping up? Or maybe even further? The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center publishes predictions for weather patterns in the near future (from next week up to a year from now). These maps show the chances of developing patterns of above/below average temperatures and precipitation. You can find these predictions here: https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

For example, right now, the forecast for northern Minnesota calls for a slightly-warmer than average summer, with average amounts of precipitation.

Here’s to a drier summer!

2022 Native Plant, Tree, and Shrub Sale

These native perennials are a great choice for many landscaping projects. Colorful blooms provide habitat for desired wildlife like pollinators and songbirds. Trees and shrubs can create windbreaks, wildlife cover, and even future income!

Deep, extensive root systems can prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, and promote infiltration. Make a difference in your landscaping by adding natives!

Ordering Instructions:

Print off and complete an order form

Payments for plants and seed are due by

April 22,2022. Tree and shrub orders are taken until the supply is exhausted.

To pay by check, return the form and payment to:

Aitkin County SWCD

307 2nd Street NW, Room 216

Aitkin, Mn 56431

To order trees and shrubs, please use the Tree Order Form

To order plants and seed, please use the Plant Order Form

Orders will be available for pick up in early May, in Aitkin. For more information contact the Aitkin County SWCD at (218) 927-7284.

Starry Trek 2021 – August 21st

Join us for this Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) event that is open to all ages – a fun educational activity for families, lakes owners, youth groups, etc. The Ripple Lake boat access will be the 2021 Aitkin County training site. Training will discuss how to identify native aquatic vs look alike invasive aquatics. Each group will have an opportunity to sample at least 2 Aitkin County lakes. This event is sponsored by UMN Extension AIS Detector program and Aitkin County Soil & Water Conservation District.

About this event

Starry stonewort is an invasive algae that was first found in Lake Koronis in 2015 and has since spread to 14 Minnesota lakes. Now we are asking for your help in searching other lakes to better understand its distribution in Minnesota. You can learn more about starry stonewort here.

You will be teaming up with volunteers across the state as well as volunteers in Wisconsin participating in a sister event (AIS Snapshot Day) to help in the early detection of aquatic invasive species. During our inaugural event in 2017, volunteers participating in Starry Trek discovered a new population of starry stonewort in Grand Lake (Stearns County). As a result of this discovery the local lake association and MN DNR teamed up in a rapid response plan to remove the small patch of starry stonewort and have since been able to limit the spread of the population in Grand Lake beyond the boat launch area it was initially discovered at.

Local training sites are located across the state and will be hosted by local agencies and organizations to search nearby locations (see map). Participants will meet at the local training site in the morning and will be assigned sites to search upon arrival. All participants will need to return to the local training site to check-in and turn in an specimens and datasheets at the end of the day. No experience necessary! Participants under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Youth clubs (scouts, 4-H, etc.) can contact Megan Weber mmweber@umn.edu to learn how to participate as a club.

Click the “Register” button to view the list of local training sites and to register to participate at a location near you! You will receive an e-mail with additional details about your location, including your local coordinator’s contact information. Volunteers will receive a complimentary tote bag for participating in this free event (guaranteed availability for all volunteers registered prior by August 15th).

In the event of inclement weather, local sites will move the event to August 22nd (following the same schedule). You will be notified via e-mail if your local training site site is impacted by inclement weather.

Click here to view an interactive map of Starry Trek rendezvous locations and find a site near you!

		Starry Trek 2021 image


We anticipate our 2021 event to more closely resemble our pre-COVID procedures. All state and local guidelines and mandates should be followed while participating in Starry Trek. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a mask and practice physical distancing and are required to wear masks indoors (almost all of this year’s local training sites are outdoors). As always, please stay home if you are sick.

Register For Starry Trek Using This Link!

It’s Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health. It’s a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them and their habitat.

Pollinator species, such as birds, bats, bees, and other insects play a vital role in producing a wide variety of crops grown in the United States, ensuring a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts supporting a healthy diet. Pollinators are essential for diverse ecosystems across the country. The Aitkin County SWCD promotes wise resource stewardship, including protecting and maintaining pollinators and their habitats!

In celebration of Pollinator Week here are our top 5 Pollinator Plants for bees. Watch for these to be blooming soon!

1). Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa). This beautiful lavender flower smells great!

2). Butterfly Weed (Asclepias incarnata). This orange, sun loving flower is part of the milkweed family.

3). Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). Bees love this flower that is a classic flower garden favorite.

4). Fragrant Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). If you like the smell of licorice, this flower is for you!

5). Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). This easy to grow flower would be a great addition to a flower bed.

Celebrate Pollinator Week – June 21-27, 2021.

For more information visit http://www.pollinator.org.