Get your geek on: New mass emailing requirements may affect your organization

Google and Yahoo logos together

Starting February 1, 2024, Google and Yahoo are tightening the controls on email authentication to improve delivery and reduce spam. MN COLA uses Constant Contact to send out emails and this upcoming change caused us to get a little geeky and make technical changes that we completed in mid-January.

These two big email providers are making these changes to protect their users (Gmail and Yahoo mail) from fraudulent messages, such as scams and phishing attempts, and will prevent any emails sent from unauthenticated email addresses from reaching the recipient’s inbox. These changes require email senders to prove they are legitimate and not spammers by setting up authentication and publishing a DMARC policy.

Yep, that’s geeky. BUT… it may impact your lake/river/COLA/LARA organizations from getting your email communications to all your members and friends depending on how you send out emails. So, if you aren’t the geek in your organization, let your geek(s) know so that they can get ahead of these new email controls. Just tell them to google “google email authentication 2024”.

Vermont wakesports regulation moves a step closer

drawing showing woman on a wakesurf board

Vermont ’s Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) recently filed its “Final Proposed Rule” for regulating wakesports on the state’s inland lakes under the heading “Final Rule Documents Submitted to LCAR.” The filing triggers another step in the process whereby the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) reviews the proposed rule. The Committee will be considering this proposed rule on February 1, 2024. If “adopted” the proposed rule will be filed with the secretary of State to become effective on the “effective date”.

The final version of the proposed rule retained the requirement for wake boarding to be done a minimum of 500’ from shore despite overwhelming public comments asking for a 1,000’ minimum. If the LCAR votes to adopt the rule, Vermont will have the most restrictive regulations in the country for wakesports. The final proposed rule includes a 500’ minimum distance from shore, a minimum depth of 20’, a ‘wakesports zone’ as having a minimum of 50 contiguous acres, and a “home lake” approach to help reduce the potential for wake boats to spread AIS from residual water in their ballast tanks.

Stay tuned!

AIS remains a top priority

small body of water completely infested with Hydrilla

AIS continues to spread in MN and more species are on the way. You’ve heard that before, but it remains the case as we start 2024. Each year we get more infestations of species already discovered in MN and there are new species on the way. Read on to find out to learn more about the growth of AIS in MN, and what’s coming soon to a lake near you.

Also, there are three educational events listed below focused on AIS topics.

The chart below for four key aquatic invasive species is current as of January 17, 2024. Zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas are highlighted as they have significant impacts on the ecology of the water with corresponding impacts to the fish food chain. Starry stonewort and Eurasian watermilfoil are highlighted because they impact the navigation and therefore the ability to recreate on the lake. This simple growth chart, from MN DNR data as of November 30, 2023, provides some good news and bad.

The good news is that spiny waterflea infestations have leveled out and the growth rate for Eurasian watermilfoil infestations is slowing

The bad news is that zebra mussel infestations keep climbing and although not in the same league as the others, starry stonewort infestations are growing.

But more AIS is still on its way to MN and could be here already, but we haven’t yet identified it as such. The damage from most of the incoming AIS are “typical of invasives” in that they displace native species and may negatively change the ecology of the water. But one of these future invaders is debilitating to recreation on the water, and that is hydrilla.

Hydrilla roots in the lakebed and has long stems (up to 25 feet in length) that branch at the surface forming dense mats making boating very difficult. As noted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “Hydrilla is an aquatic plant that has earned the illustrious title world’s worst invasive aquatic plant”. While not yet in Minnesota, hydrilla infestations are extensive in Florida where it was unintentionally introduced, then the infestations traveled up the eastern part of the US, with major infestations found in New York.

Two images of Hydrilla - one long shot and one closeup

And hydrilla is also heading north into the Midwest. In 2023, Hydrilla was found in Berrien County in southwestern Michigan, in the town of Crystal Lake in northeastern Illinois, and in the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa.

Here is a current map of hydrilla infestations in the central and eastern US.

map of eastern US showing Hydrilla infestations
USGS Hydrilla verticillate infestation map as of December 18, 2023

A recent NY Times article reported on the hydrilla challenges faced on the Connecticut River, the longest river in New England as they try to contain it from moving to 4 other states. Transmission through rivers makes control very challenging and boater movement between infested rivers and lakes brings the invasive inland. Connecticut has given up on eradication and hope to beat the infestation back year after year with herbicides and education. Sound familiar? They are also working with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center on a novel approach using red tracer dye to help find the right dosage of herbicides to kill the hydrilla and not hurt the native plants.

So, if there is any one take-away from this update on AIS, it is that you should not let your guard down. Protect the lakes and river you love as best you can. Push the MN Legislature to do more, push the MN DNR to do more, push your local government units to do more, push your lake and river associations to do more, and push your friends and neighbors to do more!

MAISRC recruiting for “Lab to Lakes” Project Manager


The Minnesota AIS Research Center at the U is accepting applications for a new Lab to Lakes Project Manager position. The Lab to Lake Project was funded by the State of Minnesota to move management recommendations from MAISRC research into implementation. The focus of this position will be on whole-lake common carp management plans and will be centered on working with local partners. Additional focus areas will eventually include control of zebra mussel populations and development of a statewide early detection and surveillance program. More details about the position can be found on the MAISRC website.

You may know someone who would be great in this role, so please pass it on!

Michigan releases new guides for shoreline improvement

Michigan EGLE title block with a shoreline pictured on the right

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has developed a variety of new resources to assist individuals who want to improve their shoreline and learn more about bio-engineering and other inland lake best management practices. While Michigan’s regulations may be slightly different from Minnesota’s, the concepts for shoreline protection are the same, and anyone wanting to improve their shore can benefit from a review of this material.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has developed a variety of new resources to assist individuals who want to improve their shoreline and learn more about bio-engineering and other inland lake best management practices. These have recently been published on EGLE’s Shoreline Protection website.

Five new fact sheets: 

Six new documents have also been created with illustrations and corresponding plans to implement best management practices for shoreline protection and lake health.

Note: these documents are consistent with Michigan’s shoreline regulations. While Michigan’s regulations may be slightly different from Minnesota’s, the concepts for shoreline protection are the same, and anyone wanting to improve their shore can benefit from a review of this material.

What goes on the lake, stays on the lake!

Graphic 'Keep It Clean' with forest and water in background

The “Keep It Clean” campaign was started to address the problem of garbage and waste left on the ice by anglers, campers and recreationists through education, legislation, and enforcement. While the ice fishing season has been shortened this year by the weather, the problem is real.

The Keep It Clean bill was signed into law in May 2023, making it illegal to place garbage and waste on or under the ice on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. A civil penalty of $100 can be imposed for each violation. You can read the details of the law here.

MPCA releases draft list of Impaired Waters for 2024

Map of Minnesota showing in redlines the impaired lakes and rivers

The 2024 Draft Impaired Waters List prepared by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency includes 6,345 instances of impairments; note that a water body can have one or more impairments. In the 2024 draft, 222 additional pollutants or stressors instances were identified in Minnesota waters, while 27 were removed.

As required by the federal Clean Water Act, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) assesses all waters of the state and creates a list of impaired waters every two years. This list includes waters that fail to meet water quality standards and uphold that water body’s designated use.

The 2024 Draft Impaired Waters List includes 6,345 instances of impairments; note that a water body can have one or more impairments. In the 2024 draft, 222 additional pollutants or stressors instances were identified in Minnesota waters, while 27 were removed.

Summary information along with a chart of pollutants and stressors can be seen here. The full Draft 2024 Impaired Waters List  is available in Excel format along with much more on MPCA’s Impaired Waters List page.

You also may find interesting insights in the MPCA’s Report to Congress dated November 2023 including special state concerns and recommendations regarding Endocrine active chemicals (EAC’s) and Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFA’s).

‘Forever Chemicals’ Contaminate America’s Freshwater Fish

A drawing of a plate with fish with hands holding a piece of fish on a fork

As reported in Kaiser Family Foundation Health News: This past March, the EPA proposed the nation’s first PFAS drinking water standards, but some scientists worry that regulations for freshwater fish are lagging. A recent study from The Environmental Working Group found that just one serving of fish can be equivalent to a month of drinking water contaminated with 48 parts per trillion of the common chemical PFOS. That is 12 times the EPA proposed limit for drinking water!

Minnesota is one of about 17 states that have issued guidance for consumption of freshwater fish, and their guidance is very specific. Follow the More information link below to read the Kaiser Family Foundation article and for links to the MN Department of Health guidance

To put this issue into context, here is some background on PFAS from the MN Department of Health.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of human-made chemicals that have been widely used for decades. PFAS are extremely stable and do not breakdown in the environment. PFAS have been found in the groundwater and surface water in Minnesota. Some PFAS can build up and stay in the human body for many years. They can also slowly decline if the exposure stops.

PFAS, like other emerging contaminants, are the focus of active research and study, which means that new information is released frequently.

An article highlighting the issue of PFAS in freshwater fish was published in the Washington Post on January 4, 2024, with analysis by Hannah Norman and research by McKenzie Beard.

The full December 1, 2023, Kaiser Family Foundation Health News article by Hannah Norman provides insight on the issue, what the EPA research has found and where, and which states are providing guidance for consumption of freshwater fish.

The MN Department of Health has a webpage with fish consumption guidelines. That page provides many references to help keep you, your family, and your friends safe:

  • List of waterbodies with low PFAS
  • Statewide Safe-eating guidelines
  • Waterbody specific Safe-eating guidelines
  • And more

Please be aware that the MN Department of Health notes that some lakes and rivers in the East Metro Area of the Twin Cities have advised the pubic to not eat any fish due to high levels of PFOS in fish and/or water. Note: PFOS are a subset of PFAS and are a key concern as it related to consumption of fish.