IWLP (dba Itasca Waters) works to sustain our precious water resources through education and science-based research.
Itasca Waters, originally organized as the Itasca Water Legacy Partnership, is a community of people who care about Itasca County waters and is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. It is a unique blend of public agencies and private citizens, all working towards the same goal, and includes both lakeshore and non-lakeshore residents, seasonal residents, recreational water users, businesses, nonprofit organizations and more.
MISSION STATEMENT: To “Team Up” with other organizations and concerned citizens to maintain abundant, clean water for our continued health, enjoyment and a strong economy.
Since 2006, Itasca Waters has been able to implement a wide range of programming with little overhead cost by partnering with a variety of funders. To date, the organization has received more than $1.5 million in grants from partners including the Blandin Foundation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Itasca County Environmental Trust Fund (ICETF), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), the United States Forest Service (USFS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the state of Minnesota. In 2018 Itasca Waters received a $150,000 grant from The Blandin Foundation to support our work over the next three years. This is a very important step for us as we concentrate on good shoreland practices, as well as AIS, our economy, and many public outreach programs.
Over the years, Itasca Waters has achieved other significant accomplishments including:
- Since 2006, Itasca Waters has engaged in numerous public outreach events including Children First Fairs and the Itasca County Fair as well as ongoing meetings and events related to area lake associations, the Izaak Walton League, Rotary clubs, ISD 318 Community Education, and more.
- In 2010 & 2011, Itasca Waters was recognized with a cash prize in the Minnesota Community Pride Competition at the Minnesota State Fair. The award was made to Itasca Waters for community improvements in education and natural resources.
- In 2010, Itasca Waters worked with partners to organize a water summit at ICC that presented educational and conservation information to water and recreation enthusiasts from around the region. This was a full-day event and was repeated in 2015. The 2015 event included a new partnership with the forestry community.
- Since 2011, Itasca Waters has brought together volunteers and partners from across the region to conduct an annual water summit for 5th graders attending schools in Grand Rapids, Bigfork, and Deer River. Educational topics presented at the event include shoreline buffers, aquatic invertebrate identification, microscopic inverts, surface tension, journaling, watersheds, aquatic invasive species, and water-related art.
- In 2011, IWLP was awarded the Outstanding Citizen Volunteer Quality Monitoring Program award from Minnesota Waters.
- In 2012, Itasca Waters begin began conducting purple loosestrife inspections and eradication work in Itasca County. Funding from the NFWF and USFS was used to employ county residents who inoculated biological controls in area waterways. The program was eventually integrated into the work of the Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District.
- In 2013, Itasca Waters helped develop a Cooperative Invasive Specie Species Management Area (CISMA) in Itasca County. This work was conducted in collaboration with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Itasca County Land Department, Minnesota Department of Transportation, USFS, DNR, University of Minnesota Extension, and the Itasca County Organization of Lake Associations.
- Beginning in 2013, Itasca Waters played a lead role in aquatic invasive species inspections at public landings in Itasca County. Inspections started at seven landings and grew to 40 in 2017. This work led to Itasca Waters hiring its first employee. In keeping with our philosophy, the work was taken over by the Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2017.
- In 2014, Itasca Waters successfully transitioned the water quality lab at ICC to RMB Labs, a for-profit entity. This was a major win, because an ongoing local lab is needed not only to test county surface waters, but to test well water for local drillers. In addition, it was paramount to maintain local laboratory resources to continue baseline work. Before Itasca Waters helped develop the lab back in 2008, only 75 lakes had credible data. Now, more than 300 lakes have credible baseline data.
- In 2014, Itasca Waters was awarded the 2014 Certificate of Merit as Conservation Cooperator for Leadership from Itasca Soil & Water Conservation District.
- In 2015, the Itasca Aquatic Invasive Species Technical Committee (including several members representing Itasca Waters) were awarded t