Northern Waters Land Trust Thanks WLBCR Lakes Association and DNR for Conservation Effort

November 4, 2022

It is official – the Pleski property transferred to DNR in late October for the Lake Louise Aquatic Management Area!

Many, many thanks to WLBCR Lakes Association and DNR Walker Office since (at least) March 2019 for the coordination, planning, and other efforts to acquire this property for the AMA! We know that many people helped with various steps along the way – it does take a team! However, both of you have a keen interest in protecting land and a commitment and the patience to work through the many steps it takes to complete projects such as this one. It is a privilege working with you both on these protection efforts!




Kathy DonCarlos

Land Conservation Coordinator

Northern Waters Land Trust

Mailing: PO Box 124

Street Address: 800 Minnesota Ave. W

Walker, MN 56484

Read full story here

Northern Waters Land Trust Acknowledges WLBCR Lakes Association for Conservation Efforts

December 3, 2021

Kathy Wagner, President and Ron Stokesbary, Director

Dear Kathy and Ron,

The Northern Waters Land Trust would like to thank you and the Wabedo – Little Boy – Cooper – Rice Lakes Association (WLBCRLA) for your partnership in protecting approximately 20 acres of land located on Wabedo Lake and Lake Louise.

The property is important to protect because it includes a portion of the connecting waters between Wabedo and Little Boy Lakes. This area includes sensitive shoreline and provides important habitat for fish movement and nesting waterfowl. The high bluff on the property is subject to potential erosion if developed which could impact water quality. Fisheries research has shown that healthy watersheds with intact forests and upland areas are fundamental to good water quality and habitat. Maintaining good water quality is critical to sustaining fish populations. The permanent protection of this land will help maintain good water quality for the diverse plant and animal species in these lakes.

Ron spoke with NWLT about this property in 2018 and NWLT began communicating with the conservation minded landowners in 2019. Using Outdoor Heritage Fund grants, matching funds from the WLBCRLA and a significant contribution from the landowners, the land will be permanently protected as an Aquatic Management Area managed by State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The WLBCRLA contributed a significant portion of the required matching funds through member contributions and a Hugh Becker Foundation grant. The Lakes Association, the Hugh Becker Foundation, and Jim and Linda Pleski were important partners in this project. We appreciate your support and look forward to future collaborations on efforts to “preserve land in order to protect our waters” for future generations especially in this important and sensitive area!

On behalf of the NWLT Board, thank you very much for your conservation work!

Kathy DonCarlos Bob Karls

Land Conservation Coordinator NWLT Board Chair

Siemering Family Creates a Conservation Legacy on Wabedo Lake

Click here to read the Northern Waters Land Trust tribute to the Siemering Family for their conservation-minded generosity. An excerpt from the article describes NWLT as "a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is: preserve land to protect water. They serve the watersheds of Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin, and Hubbard Counties, and are working towards a region that has clean lakes, rivers, wetlands, and forests that support a diversity of fish and wildlife."

Exciting News About Preserving Sensitive Shore Land and Protecting Water Quality!

August 2020

Great news! A purchase agreement has been signed between the owner and Northern Waters Land Trust (NWLT) for preserving a large parcel on the south end of Wabedo Lake – (we can’t identify the owner until the actual purchase has been completed due to confidentiality). This parcel contains approximately 114 acres and about 750 feet of shoreline. Title to the parcel will be transferred to Cass County and they will manage about 80 acres in their forestry management program with the shoreline acreage left as is. This project will benefit the water quality of our lakes by preserving forested areas (which act as buffers and filters for our lakes) and by preserving sensitive shore land areas.

Now that the project is nearing completion, we need your help in raising funds as part of the required 10% local match to the Lessard-Sams funds that are being used to purchase the property. The local match will be covered by a $20,000 donation from the WLBCR Lakes Association and funds from Cass County. We have received a grant from the Hugh Becker Foundation of Muskies, Inc. to cover half of our committed donation but we need your help to come up with the remaining $10,000.

We are asking for your help to cover the $10,000 and to rebuild our accounts for future preservation activities. If every owner gave $50, we could generate over $18,000 for this and future projects. Please be generous with your donation to help fund this project.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact: Ron Stokesbary, 218-363-2186 (h) 952-836-6120 (cell) or Kathy Wagner, 218-363-2162.

We have worked with NWLT to create a separate tax-deductible account for donations by our members to this project (donations to WLBCR are not tax-deductible).

If you prefer to donate to a tax-deductible organization, send your check to: Northern Waters Land Trust, PO Box 124, Walker, MN 56484. Indicate “WLBCR” or “Wabedo Lake” in the Memo field of your check so the money is credited into the WLBCR Lakes Association account.

If you would like to make your donation directly to WLBCR Lakes Association, send your check to: WLBCR Lakes Association. Indicate "2020 Preservation Contribution" in the Memo field of your check and mail to WLBCR Lakes Association, PO Box 133, Longville, MN 56655

Thank you!

WLBCR Board of Directors

Sustainability Update - 2020

The Wabedo-Little Boy-Cooper-Rice (WLBCR) Lakes Association, in partnership with the Northern Waters Land Trust (NWLT), received a grant award from the Hugh C. Becker Committee of Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies, Inc. to assist with the purchase of property on Wabedo Lake to preserve musky habitat, sensitive shoreline, and forested areas.

WLBCR Lakes Association Receives Grant Award

Pictured (l-r) Ron Stokesbary, WLBCR Treasurer, Kathy Wagner, WLBCR President, Derek Jensen, NWLT Board, Doug Schultz, Walker Area Fisheries Manager, George Selcke, Chairman Hugh Becker Foundation, Terry Tripp, NWLT Board.

WLBCR is Recipient of a $10,000 Grant!

Who was Hugh Becker anyway?

As WLBCR celebrates the $10,000 grant from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation of Muskies Inc., in partnership with the Northern Waters Trust Alliance, now is a great time to celebrate the visionary behind this generous gift.

Hugh loved the outdoors and muskie fishing; so much that he left his entire $3 million estate primarily to benefit fish and anglers. Prior to his passing in 2007, he set up a nonprofit foundation that will funnel yearly earnings of those millions into perpetuity to the Twin Cities Chapter of Muskies Inc., which he helped to start, and to the Chippewa Rod and Gun Club in Chippewa Falls, WI, where he fished.

Hugh was born in Olivia, MN, grew up in south Minneapolis and attended Washburn High School. He graduated from the University of MN in physical education and kinesiology. While at the University, Hugh lettered in baseball (Captain 1938-1939), and was the state weightlifting champion in his class. Hugh also served his country and joined the Marines during WWII, seeing action at Guadalcanal and Okinawa in the South Pacific as an artillery officer. Upon his return from the war, he worked as a physical therapist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis from 1947-1973.

Prior to his return to Minneapolis, Hugh was befriended by a wealthy San Diego family who taught him about investing and left him a substantial inheritance. He lived frugally and continued to invest wisely throughout his lifetime, which is subsequently being shared with so many because of his love for the outdoors. The Foundation money has been designated to go to fisheries, stocking, habitat work and youth programs.

Hugh had great foresight as an avid fisherman. In 1947 he began fishing for muskies, and he was instrumental in the developmental stages of Muskies, Inc., serving on its Board of Directors from 1967 through 1983. He advocated that the organization be family-focused and include women and children because he felt they were essential to the future of fishing.

Hugh played a significant role in launching the catch-and-release philosophy, which is now commonplace amongst muskie fishermen and women. He firmly believed if you keep putting the fish back, there’d be more to chase when you returned. Hugh began his personal “fish-tagging” program in 1953, gathering considerable data on recapture and sharing this data with the Wisconsin DNR. His data demonstrated early that the practices of “catch and release” and “selective harvest” would be valid concepts for conserving muskellunge.

In 1976 he personally funded a three-year fish-tagging program directed by the Minnesota DNR. This study was the basis for the adoption of the “catch and release” program of Muskies, Inc., and also the adoption of utilizing the Leech Lake/Mississippi strain of muskellunge as the brood stock for the Minnesota DNR muskie program. For his on-going dedication to muskie-fishing and his service to the organization, he was one of the original inductees into the Muskies, Inc., Hall of Fame in 1991. Over 30 years, he tagged more than 1,000 muskies.

The grant for WLBCR is designated for conservation of land that is near critical muskie habitat on Wabedo Lake. The lake association extends a public thank you to Hugh for his contribution to preserving a healthy fishery.

This muskie was released.

A little snow didn’t deter Hugh!

YMCA Camp Olson

YMCA Camp Olson stretches over 1250 acres of diverse forest habitat in Cass County. It also contains extensive shoreline on Cooper and Little Boy Lakes, both of which are important tullibee lakes that provide feeder fish for larger game fish like walleye and muskie. These lakes also provide important habitat for iconic Minnesota birds such as the common loon. Through a partnership between the Minnesota Land Trust and the Northern Waters Land Trust, Camp Olson has now protected over 2,000 feet of shoreline along Cooper Lake and intends to continue to add additional easements in subsequent phases. See complete MN Land Trust article here

Sustainability Update - 2019

The Fred and Joyce Schwartz family placed a conservation easement on their 28.9 acre parcel that preserves 1,762 feet of shoreline of Wabedo Lake. The Northern Waters Land Trust, Minnesota Land Trust, Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Schwartz family all came together to make this preservation possible. Much more information is available on the Minnesota Land Trust site: Honoring a legacy of conservation (

Sustainability Update - 2018

We are excited about another preservation project on Wabedo Lake. It involves about 80 forested acres and around 40 shoreland acres. We are working with the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation, Moran Realty and Cass County to facilitate this project. LLAWF has requested grant monies from Lessard-Sams to purchase this property which will end up being owned by Cass County. Our association has committed up to $20,000 to help with the matching funds that are needed to complete this project. We expect to hear if we will receive the grant in the fall of 2018 and the funds would be available sometime in 2019. We will have more information on this project as it gets closer to completion.

Sustainability Update -2011

Another easement was completed in 2011. Randy Helland and Cindy Gackle on Little Boy have completed an easement on their property - thank you! ! Little Boy now has almost 7,300 feet of shoreline protected and over 825 acres. See the "pebbly" areas below:

Sustainability Update - 2010

We recently heard from the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation that they and Cass County will receive a grant that will help property owners place conservation easements on their property. The grant will pay up to $15,000 of closing costs on the conservaton easement. Please contact the Sustainability Committee for more information.

Exciting News!

This year the easements on a number of Wabedo Lake properties (four owners - Johnson, Haxby, Duncan and Andrews) were completed and are in effect. With these easements, over 5,000 feet of shoreline has been protected from development and almost 80 acres of pristine shoreland. See the "pebbley" areas below:

We want to thank the families involved in these easements for their forward thinking and for providing such a valuable gift to future generations. Thank you! !

We hope other owners will consider the benefits of conserving their property. We are looking primarily at properties that are included in the sensitive shoreline areas but will definitely not exclude other properties. Again, please contact Mike with any sustainability questions.

Sustainability Update - 2009

The committee is providing assistance to some property owners on Wabedo Lake to help preserve their properties for future generations. There are at least three property owners who are in the process of placing conservation easements on their properties to protect the pristine nature of these parcels. Contact Mike Humrickhouse if you have any interest in protecting your property for future generations.

Sustainability Update - 2007

This committee was created in 2007 to address the long term sustainability and preservation of our lakes and surrounding areas.

They are currently reviewing data from a list of "Parcels with Conservation Potential" from Cass County. These are parcels that are large enough to be developed into plats (dividing the existing property into multiple lots). The intent is to provide information to the current owners of these parcels concerning their options for preservation and conservation of the land and critical habitat. Our concern with these parcels is the possible degredation that can occur from splitting one parcel into many. There are impacts from this type of development such as decrease in acquatic vegetation due to additional docks, shoreline degredation due to additional paths to the lake, run-off from lawns created by these new properties, etc. It is the cumulative effect of development that creates concerns for long-term sustainability.

Other issues that this committee will address include shoreline restoration, watershed viability, acquatic plant restoration, and many others.