Big Sand Lake Association - Hubbard County, Park Rapids, MN - original logo design by Marcia Bergland

Big Sand Lake Association

committed to the preservation of Big Sand Lake

Lake News Archives

Archived News from the Big Sand Lake area.

12/12/2017 - Hubbard COLA News

Sharon Natzel, President of Hubbard COLA provided the following:

Click here to see the 2017 results of the watercraft inspections.

Click here to see the reports of the 2018 Supplemental Funding information.


Please note that Bill Don Carlos, the current Hubbard County AIS Program Coordinator is resigning to take another position elsewhere, with his last day being December 22, 2017.  They are actively looking for a replacement.

09/22/2017 - New Big Sand Resident Directory in Process for Publication

As a service to all residents, the Big Sand Lake Association (BSLA) is preparing a new, print Resident Directory for publication and delivery next spring or early summer and updating the password protected On-Line Resident Directory.

Your help is needed. Many residents have already been contacted by a neighborhood representative and have updated contact information. Please note:

  • If you have received an email or letter from a neighborhood representative, please respond by completing the contact form and submit it as directed. 
  • If you have not been contacted, click here for a copy of the contact form.

Purpose of a Resident Directory:

  • A resident directory provides lake residents a level of safety with the ability to contact neighbors quickly in the event of an emergency, etc.
  • A resident directory provides a sense of community.
  • The print Resident Directory will include a map of the roads and addresses around the lake.


  • The Resident Directory is restricted for use by Big Sand residents only.
  • Each resident on the lake in the directory will receive one complimentary copy courtesy of BSLA.
  • Extra copies will be available for purchase.
  • Membership in BSLA is not necessary to be included, although each resident is encouraged to join.


  • Volunteers from each of the 15 Big Sand neighborhood areas are contacting residents to update contact information. Click here for a list of the volunteer neighborhood representatives.
  • If you have not already confirmed or updated your contact information, please respond promptly to the phone message, email or letter from your representative.
  • Contact information currently in the on-line directory may be reviewed here. If you cannot access the directory, send a message to
  • Information received will be collated for publication by a volunteer committee - Bonnie Brand, Sue Fenton, Barb Kimer, Lisa Moore
  • Resident Directories will be distributed next spring or early summer

08/11/2017 - Recent News Articles of Interest

On Saturday, August 5, volunteers hunt for  Starry Stonewort,  MN’s newest Invader


The Star Tribune has an excellent 2-Part Article entitled "Zebra Mussel Surge Imperils Lake Life" which can be accessed through the HC COLA website under News on the Home Page, or click on the following links:


Part 1:

Part 2:


Although there was a brisk breeze and a few short intermittent showers, 55 hearty Big Sanders registered for the Big Sand Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 24th, and 75 plates were served at lunch. The new location at Wick and Holly Corwin's provided a spectacular view of the lake and lots of shade had we had our usual warm, if not hot, weather on that day. If you missed the meeting, the minutes will be posted in the Member's Area after the Board of Directors approves them at their meeting on July 15. Highlights of the meeting include: a very informative presentation about the functioning of the Big Sand Lake Charitable Fund by Chris and Ann Hilger, Advisory Board co-chairs; explanation of Big Sand's water quality monitoring programs; an update on AIS prevention efforts; election of new board members - Bob Bray as President-Elect, Lisa Moore, Sue Fenton and Matt VanBruggen as new board members; and birthday cake and singing to celebrate Betty Corwin's 94th birthday.


There was a great turn out for the boat parade in spite of a mid-week holiday. The weather was spectacular and easy boating for all. Photos were taken of each boat participating. When we figure out the best way to share them, we will let you know how to access the photos.

06/19/2017 - Big Sand Annual Meeting - 10 a.m. on June 24th
*** Note Location Change

The 2017 Big Sand Annual Meeting and Family Picnic will be held at Wick and Holly Corwin's, 19727 County Rd. 40—not at Evergreen Lodge as previously announced. Limited handicap parking is available at the bottom of their driveway. Otherwise park on Hope Drive (which connects with County 40 slightly to the east, towards Lake Emma). Passengers can be dropped off by using the driveway numbered 19765 (Dick and Carolyn Brammel).


Come to meet and greet with fellow Big Sanders with coffee and donuts and view interesting and informative display tables from 10-10:30. During the meeting portion of the event hear from Ann and Chris Hilgers new co-chairs of the Big Sand Charitable fund, be informed on AIS inspections, Big Sand’s water quality monitoring program, and all of the activities of your Big Sand Lake Association. Immediately following the meeting, approximately 11:30, enjoy a pulled pork picnic lunch provided by BSLA. There will be birthday cake for dessert in celebration of Betty Corwin’s 94th birthday. Child care available by contacting or 612-267-7355.

03/30/2017 - AIS Watercraft Inspections are Finalized for 2017

The schedule has been set by Bill DonCarlos (AIS Coordinator) with input from BSLA for Big Sand's AIS watercraft inspections for the 2017 season. There will be a DNR certified inspector at the Big Sand access on Saturday and Sunday of fishing opener. Then on Thursdays thru Sundays on the following two weekends. Beginning Thursday, May 25th, (Memorial Day weekend) thru September 4th, (Labor Day) an inspector will be on duty everyday. In September and October the access will be covered on weekends. In addition, BSLA provided 38 extra hours of inspection at the Lake Emma access which has direct flow into Big Sand on some high traffic weekends.


The schedule for most shifts is for 8 hours - either 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. or 11 a.m.-7 p.m. However, some 10 hour shifts have been arranged especially during the July 4h week.


BSLA paid Hubbard County AIS $13,024 on March 1st for 704 inspection hours — $3,300 of that will be reimbursed to BSLA from the Lake Emma Healthy Lakes Partnership grants program. Funding from the State of MN paid for 396 inspection hours for a total of 1,100 hours in 2017.


Inspecting watercraft launching into Big Sand is no guarantee that our lake will continue to be AIS free. However, it is the best protection we have available at this time. Thank you to all who generously contributed to the 2017 AIS fund through the Big Sand Charitable Lake Fund to make so many hours of coverage possible.

03/30/2017 - Evergreen and Pine Cone Participate in AIS Prevention

Thank you to Dan Dyre and Evergreen Lodge for hiring a watercraft inspector to be at the resort for 4 hours each Saturday during the time that guests are launching watercraft at Evergreen. Pine Cone Lodge, which does not have a launch area at the resort, instructs all guests bringing watercraft to Big Sand to have their crafts decontaminated prior to coming to the resort. BSLA is appreciative of these efforts. If you stop for gas at Evergreen or see Dan, be sure to thank him for the financial investment he is making to help protect Big Sand.

04/18/2017 - The Ice is Out

The "impartial judge" for this year's ice out contest declared the "official" 2017 ice out date and time to be Friday, April 7 at 4 p.m. That was when the judge canoed across Big Sand from the north shore all the way to the access. "Winner" of the 2017 ice out contest will be revealed in the Spring issue of the Big Sand newsletter due out in early to mid-May.

04/18/2017 - Slides and Videos Available from March 20th AIS Event

If you missed attending the AIS prevention event, "Help! We Are Surrounded", at Riverside Methodist Church on March 20th. Click here to read about and listen to the informative sessions that were presented by Jeff Forester, MN Lakes and Rivers Executive Director, Nicole Kovar, Park Rapids DNR office, Bill Don Carlos, Hubbard Couny AIS Prevention, and Dan Kittilson, Hubbard County COLA.


Jeff Forester pointed out that Hubbard County is currently free of any major AIS infection. However we are now surrounded by counties and lakes with AIS that threaten our lakes and communities. Last summer, Detroit Lakes (to our West) was pronounced to have Zebra Mussels as well as Leech Lake (to our East). Red and Turtle Lake (to our North) have Starry Stonewart as well as Lake Koronis (to our South).


According to Forester, everyone, even those who don’t fish, swim, boat or otherwise enjoy the lakes, has a stake in the local tourist economy and tax base that is threatened by AIS. As he pointed out, 60% of the tax revenue in Hubbard County comes from lake property assessments. That means that if Lake Property values decrease due to AIS infestation everyone in Hubbard County gets a tax increase to fund our schools and county government.


Become more informed about AIS threats and how average citizens can be become involved in local AIS prevention.

02/13/2017 - Update on 2017 Watercraft Inspections for Big Sand

BSLA (Big Sand Lake Association) submitted a request for a total of 1,100 hours of AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) watercraft inspections during the 2017 season (May through October) to the Hubbard County AIS Program Coordinator. This request provides 100 more hours than last year to provide coverage during the good fishing month of October and additional hours during high traffic times to help keep Big Sand free from zebra mussels and other invasive species. The total hourly rate for watercraft inspections is $18.50/hr which includes funding for program management, salaries and other related expenses.


The State of MN will pay for 396 inspection hours for Big Sand. BSLA will pay for the remaining 704 hours. BSLA has submitted a request and expects to receive approximately $3400 from the Lake Emma Township Healthy Lakes Partnership Grant Program when funding will be finalized in April.


As required by Hubbard County, BSLA must submit payment of $13,024 by March 1st for the 704 supplemental inspection hours Big Sand requested for 2017 before any reimbursement is received from the Lake Emma Healthy Lakes Program. To accommodate meeting the large amount of funding needed for AIS protection, a special AIS Project Fund has been established as part of the Big Sand Lake Charitable Fund held by Northwest MN Foundation in Bemidji. A letter requesting donations to this fund was mailed to all Big Sand residents in December. To date, approximately $11,525 has been received. Thank you to the 49 generous Big Sand residents who have responded so far. Please see the article below for information on how to donate to the AIS fund. Any excess funds raised will be retained for future AIS prevention programs.

01/06/2017 - Advocacy Action Needed Now to Help Prevent New AIS Invasions

MN Lakes and Rivers, an advocacy organization that BSLA supports, with a membership, sent the following message:


   "Yesterday the 2017 Minnesota Legislature began. There are many new legislators, and Republicans hold majorities in both the House and the Senate. As they begin to set their agenda for the upcoming session, it is critical that lake home and cabin folks write to them and let them know that protection of lake and river heritage is a core, bi-partisan Minnesota value.

    Now is the time to contact your legislators and educate them about one of the biggest threats to this heritage, a new invasive species called starry stonewort. Starry Stonewort, a species of algae, was discovered in Minnesota for the first time in 2015 around the public access site on Lake Koronis."


Starry stonewort is fast becoming an equal to zebra mussels as the most worrisome of invasive species. Initially discovered in Lake Koronis, located in Stearns County southwest of St. Cloud, starry stonewort has been identified in 7 more lakes in Minnesota. Without aggressive efforts, it will spread exponentially, similar to how zebra mussels are now spreading. An article appeared in the Park Rapids Enterprise on December 10, confirming the on-going spread with the identification of zebra mussel larvae in nearby Leech Lake.


Click here to read more about this issue and a convenient link to reach MN legislators.

01/06/2017 - It’s a Deep Freeze But Big Sand’s Little Christmas Tree is Still Glowing

2017 brought the arrival of deep freeze temperatures to Big Sand. If you have been checking Big Sand’s weather on the website from a warm locale, you might marvel at the below zero temperatures being recorded. The temperature on the morning of January 4th was 15 below, with a wind chill of -41. The hardy folks who live at the lake year-round are enduring, and with no other choice, taking the weather in stride. For a warming sight, check out the east facing webcam and the warm lights of the Christmas tree placed in front of Evergreen Lodge. It will stay lit for a couple more weeks to brighten the long winter nights. Currently sunset is around 4:45 p.m. CST and sunrise not until 8:05 a.m.

12/22/2016 - 2015/2016 Watercraft Inspection Summary Report

We received the summary reports for the 2016 AIS watercraft inspections from Don Carlos, Hubbard County AIS Program Coordinator. Click here for just the Big Sand summary for 2016 and 2015.

12/22/2016 - COLA December 2016 Newsletter

Click here for a copy of the recent Hubbard County COLA (Coalition of Lake Associations) newsletter. Of special interest is the last article about the ‘Aquatic Invaders Summit held in October. That article includes links to several informative presentations at the conference including:

  • A 3 1/2 minute video, "Aquatic Invasive Species: An Underwater Perspective" which features a segment on Starry Stonewort, the newest and perhaps most devastating invasive lake weed, To see the video only, click on the link: "Summit kicked off with a special video."
  • "Economics Impacts of AIS" which focuses on "How Much Do Private Citizens and LGUs (local government units) Spend to Protect Public Water." Conclusion of that study is that counties in MN that spend more money on prevention have minimal AIS compared to other counties. Hubbard County, which for now is AIS free, ranks third in AIS spending statewide.
  • "Invasion of zebra mussels" links to a report showing the timeline of zebra mussels spreading from Russia to inland lakes with Minnesota now having the highest rate of spread.

Dr. Peter Sorenson from the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, University of Minnesota, presented information,on establishing “Ecosystem Protection at a Local Level: A Bold, New Step in AIS Prevention”. To hear an interview with Dr. Sorenson done by MPR at the conference, click on this link:

12/05/2016 - NEW PROCESS FOR AIS DONATIONS - Due by March 1, 2017

Hubbard County is changing the process for lake associations to pay for boat inspector hours. In 2017, full payment for the entire season is due by March 1st. - far in advance of when BSLA dues and donations have been collected in the past. To accommodate this new process, the BSLA Board is recommending that all AIS donations be paid to the Big Sand Lake Charitable Fund held by Northwest Minnesota Foundation. Click here for full explanation which also appears in the Fall/Winter Big Sand newsletter.

11/30/2016 - Fall/Winter Big Sand Newsletter

The Fall/Winter issue of the Big Sand newsletter is at the printer and will be in the mail shortly. If you do not receive your copy by December 16, please contact


Click here for an advance copy with photographs in color.

12/02/2016 - First Snowstorm Hits Big Sand on November 18

Big Sand received between 8 and 10 inches of beautiful, heavy wet snow on Friday, November 18. There was damage to some trees due to the high winds and power was out for awhile in several locations around the lake.


For some photos, click here.

12/02/2016 - Update onPublic Access Development

The DNR tore down the remaining garage, cleared all debris, and filled in the foundation on the lot adjacent to the public landing on Thursday, November 17 - just before the first snow. Further development of the property is not scheduled at this time.


According to an October 17 DNR press release, Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lower Cullen Lake and nearby Lake Hubert in Crow Wing County by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These and other zebra mussel findings are “due to vigilant lake property owners, lake service providers and watercraft inspectors checking docks and lifts coming out of the water this time of year,” according to Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. (Please note the article ‘INSPECTION IS CRUCIAL: Help Keep Big Sand AIS Free’ below on this page)


The press release stated that a resort owner contacted the DNR after finding several zebra mussels on a boat moored at the resort on Lower Cullen Lake, and a county watercraft inspector and a lake service provider business, both trained by the DNR, spotted adult zebra mussels on a boat lift as it was removed from Lake Hubert. DNR invasive species staff found and removed more zebra mussels on an adjacent dock and at a three-foot depth in the water. Click here to read the complete October 17 press release.

10/03/2016 - INSPECTION IS CRUCIAL! Help Keep Big Sand AIS Free

Help protect Big Sand from aquatic invasive species. Our primary concern at this time is a zebra mussel invasion. Zebra Mussels continue to spread to more lakes in Minnesota (see item below) and have been identified in nearby Detroit Lake.


Early detection is the best way to possibly control an infestation. Please carefully inspect boats, docks, lifts, or other water-related equipment when they are removed from the lake this fall, or instruct your service provider to do so. On smooth surfaces, young zebra mussels feel like fine sandpaper. Juveniles are about the size of peppercorns. Adults can be two inches long, but most are less than an inch.


Big Sand Lake Association has purchased and dispersed 20 zebra mussel samplers to volunteers around the lake for inspection this fall. More of these samplers will be available next season. However, it is important for every dock, and all water related equipment to be inspected. Click here for photographs of juvenile zebra mussels and instructions for reporting a possible finding.

10/03/2016 - DNR Confirms Zebra Mussels in 4 More MN Lakes

In a September 22 press release, the  Department of Natural Resources has confirmed four new reports of zebra mussels in Minnesota lakes: Lake Sallie in Becker County; Lake Andrew in Douglas County; Lac qui Parle in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Swift counties; and Big Birch Lake in Todd and Stearns counties. Click here for the complete press release and a photograph of zebra mussels in comparison to a human hand.


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed Minnesota's third and fourth cases of the invasive algae starry stonewort, in Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County and Cass Lake, within the Leech Lake Reservation in Beltrami County. DNR staff also confirmed starry stonewort among heavy native plant growth in a northeast section of Cass Lake, near the Knutson Dam on the Leech Lake Reservation. Further investigation will reveal the extent of the infestation and potential treatment options on Cass Lake. The second case of starry stonewort in Minnesota was confirmed earlier this month in Turtle Lake, also in Beltrami County. The first was confirmed one year ago in Lake Koronis, 185 miles due south of Turtle Lake. Click here for a complete copy of the press release.

08/05/2016 - Big Sand Social Event

Approximately 50 Big Sanders of all ages enjoyed a delightful evening on the north end of the lake on Saturday, July 30. Thank you to the Corwins for hosting. Plans are underway for another social at the end of August or in early September. Stay tuned for details.

08/05/2016 - Archaeologists Working Next to the Public Access

For the past week or so a group of archaeologists have been digging at the property which the DNR purchased in 2015 next to the current public landing. They are with the MN Historical Society and have been contracted by the DNR to explore the site. So far they have found some arrowheads, pottery pieces and animal bones. If you have found any artifacts on your property, they would be interested in seeing them. They will be working there again next week (August 8 -11) starting at noon on Monday through noon on Thursday.

08/05/2016 - Aquatic Invaders Summit II, October 5-6

MN Lakes and Rivers is again promoting an opportunity for lake associations and all who work to protect waterways in MN from aquatic invasive species (AIS) to hear the latest information available and to share prevention strategies. The second Aquatic Invaders Summit will be held in St. Cloud on October 5 and 6. For more information about the summit and registration material click here.

07/22/2016 - Summary/Minutes of the BSLA Annual Meeting

On Saturday, June 25, approximately 70 Big Sanders attended the 28th BSLA Annual Meeting at Evergreen Lodge. A family picnic was provided following the meeting. Click here for a copy of the minutes of the meeting, or on the BSLA Information/Board Minutes tab in the left-hand column of this page.

07/22/2016 - Summer Storms, Heavy Rain and a Heat Wave

During the night on Saturday, July 16, and again on Wednesday, July 21, heavy thunderstorms with winds estimated at 70 miles per hour blew through the Big Sand area causing loss of many trees, damage to some homes and power outages. Compounding the storm on the 21st, was a heat wave with temperatures in the 90’s and high humidity. Itasca Mantrap reported nearly 3,000 customers without electricity. As of this writing, several Big Sand homes have been without power for more than 24 hours. In addition, Big Sand received 2 inches of rain on July 7, 4.5 inches on July 10th and the 11th with some areas receiving much more. The good news is that the lake level is up. Mother Nature continues to amaze us.

06/14/2016 - Renovation at the Public Landing

The existing house on the lot the DNR purchased next to the public landing has been sold and is in the process of being moved off the property. When heavy equipment was sighted at the landing last week, a representative from the BSLA Board requested an update from the DNR. Dave Schotzko, Area Supervisor, DNR Parks and Trails, responded with the following information: "We hired a contractor to remove the trees next to the house and then the house will also be moved next week (June 13-17). May take a few years to get a design and cash to build the site but once we have preliminary design plan, we will share with the Lake Association".  For photos, go to the Big Sand Lake Facebook page.

04/20/2016 - Ice Out - Finally!

Big Sand is now ice free as of noon on Saturday, April 16. It has been reported that the ducks, geese and loons are enjoying the open water. The winner and runner up of the "Big Sand Ice Out Contest" will be announced and a trophy presented at the Big Sand Annual Meeting and picnic on June 25 from 10 noon at Evergreen Lodge. So, hold your breath! Mark your calendars and plan on attending the exciting Annual Meeting.


Big Sand is projected to have DNR watercraft inspectors at the public landing during the 2016 season for approximately 1000 hours at $17.50 per hour for an estimated cost of $17,500. BSLA submitted a grant request to the Lake Emma Healthy Partnerships and will receive $3,400 for AIS expenses. Additionally, Big Sand will receive $6,930 from the state. The BSLA membership will be contacted concerning AIS expenses when more detail is known for conducting watercraft inspections during 2016.


In 2015, Big Sand had 1058 hours of inspection between fishing opener on May 9th to the end of October. A private donation in 2015 of $1000 enabled Big Sand to continue inspections on weekends during October. Click here for a chart of 2015 inspection details for Big Sand and other Hubbard County lakes.


Since the beginning of the AIS watercraft inspection and decontamination (WID) program, Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been the managing agent for the program. However, in January, 2016, due to SWCS’s increased workload, Julie Kingsley, SWCD district manager, submitted a request to transfer WID responsibilities to Hubbard County. The request was approved in early February. Hubbard County is in the process of hiring a full time AIS coordinator and will be the managing agent for the AIS inspection and decontamination program. For more information, click here for the January 9th Park Rapids Enterprise article concerning the SWCD’s request.

01/29/2016 - The Match is Met! Update from the BSLA Charitable Fund

The BSLA Charitable Fund has met the match!  Last summer, an anonymous donor offered $25,000 if donations of $25,000 could be raised.  We chose an arbitrary date of Jan 1, 2016 to meet that match.  We are pleased to announce the Match is Met!


More than 100 lake residents plus additional friends of Big Sand Lake have contributed to the Big Sand Lake Charitable Fund since the fund’s beginning Fall of 2009. The fund is administered through the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.


Thank You to all who have contributed over the years!  Thank You to our anonymous matching gift donor!  Thank You to all who donated to meet the match!


Fund raising will be an ongoing effort since moneys may be spent from the spendable portion of the Charitable Fund.  Items such as boat inspections at the boat ramp and water quality monitoring may be paid for through this fund.  We know that many lakes in Minnesota have experienced various invasive species and if we would be so unfortunate to have that happen, we are financially prepared to address the problem.


Donations are encouraged to continue building the fund for the future protection and preservation of Big Sand Lake!

01/29/2016 - Study Indicates Boats, Not Birds, Spread AIS

A BSLA member forwarded a link to an interesting article from the Wisconsin DNR. Quoting from the article,


“Preliminary results from systematic monitoring of Wisconsin lakes for aquatic invasive species confirm that boaters, not duck or other birds, are spreading the invaders around, State and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say. None of the wilderness lakes surveyed - those in remote places and easily accessible only to wildlife - had any invasive species present while there was a direct link between the presence of invasive species and boat access from public and private property.”


Click here to read more. The article is dated March 5, 2013. Seems that this concept warrants more follow up. Stay tuned!

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