Keeping Lake Belle Taine "Healthy"
Water Sampling on Belle Taine
Belle Taine started sampling water sampling in May 1997. 35 of the 124 lakes in Hubbard County do sampling. The sampling is done at the same time on the 3rd Sunday of the month from May to September. A sampling for Zebra Mussels occurs twice in July.
A form is completed spelling out the weather conditions at the time, recent rain, temperature, wind and other factors that may impact clarity. The water samples are taken to RMB Labs in Detroit lakes, where they are analyzed. If you go to RMBs Web site (https://www.rmbel.info/), you can look at the last 20+ years of testing.
Chlorophyll-a - a green pigment, present in all green plants which is responsible for the absorption of light, which provides the energy for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll-a is measured to determine algae concentration which determines how green the water appears. In photosynthesis, plants use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and cellular material.
From 1997 to 2010 no trend was found in either of these measurements. Since 2011 both Phosphorus and chlorophyll-a have been decreasing, which indicates an increase in water quality.
The clarity of the lake water is measured with a Secchi disk, which is a disk used to gauge the transparency of water by measuring the depth at which the disk ceases to be visible from the surface. It is lowered at the deepest part of the lake. This measurement is impacted by boat traffic, high winds, and recent rain.
The deepest clarity in Belle Taine was in May 2005 at 37.5’ and the second was 37’ in 2020. In May this year, it was 26.0’. The worst reading was September 2010 at 12.5.’
For clarity of the surrounding lakes, Big Sand has a 22.5’ average, Big Bass has a 21.1 average and Belle Taine 20.5’ average, based on 20+ years of readings. These 3 have best water clarity in Hubbard County. Big Sand’s max was 43.5’, Belle Taine’s best was 37.5’ and Big Bass was 25’. Belle Taine is one of the best and highest ranked lakes in Hubbard County. These three lakes are not AIS infested as yet.
Increasing Secchi disk reading means improving water quality.
Tropic State Index (TSI)
The TSI is a classification system designed to rate water bodies based on the level of biological productivity decreasing, which indicates improving water quality.
High Water History
Our lake hasn’t always been high. Many of us can remember driving a boat under the Camper’s Paradise bridge in the mid-80s. The DNR reports the highest water in Belle Taine was 1429.77’ in 2001 and the lowest was 1415.41’ in 1936: a 14’ difference. At its lowest, Belle Taine was 5 separate lakes: Nevis Bay, Muskie Bay, Beauty Bay, Big Lake, and West Bay. There was little or no water north of Camper’s Paradise. The most recent reading by the DNR was June 2022 at 1428.16’ and the Official High Water is 1428.3’. Currently it is 1428.36’.
We are lucky to be living on one of the better lakes in in Minnesota. To keep it that way and continue the trend of increasing quality, here are a few tips that we as landowners can do:
If you are on septic, check yearly to make sure there is no seepage into the lake.
Do not use fertilizer within 50 feet of the lake.
If you have guests with boats, please send them through the public access so our inspectors can confirm that the boats are clean.
Aquatic Invasive Species (A.I.S.)
You may not recognize the letters "A.I.S." or hear the words "Aquatic Invasive Species" very often, but you've almost certainly heard these words:
If you're a Harry Potter fan, hearing those words is like hearing the words "Lord Voldemort" spoken out loud. Maybe we should start referring to those aquatic invasive species as "The Lake Killers Who Must Not Be Named."
So far, we've been lucky. Lake Belle Taine is free (at the moment!) of any Aquatic Invasive Species. But all it potentially takes is ONE BOAT which has come from a lake stricken by an A.I.S. and the nature of our lake could change forever. One little strand of Eurasion Millfoil hanging on a propeller or boat trailer, or a live well that has some water with some Zebra Mussels microbes floating in it, could turn Lake Belle Taine into the latest victim of these nasty invaders.
The Lake Belle Taine Association is doing all it can to keep these terrible things out of our lake as long as possible. And you can help in any number of ways. How?
A) by becoming a member of the Lake Belle Taine Association and paying your annual dues
B) by contributing an additional amount to the Association's Aquatic Invasive Species fund
C) by volunteering to become an official Aquatic Invasive Species spotter through Hubbard County and/or the DNR
D) by talking about the Lake Association to your fellow Lake Belle Taine lakeshore owners and asking them if they're members!
E) by making sure if you take your boat or personal watercraft to some other lake that you thoroughly clean it when you depart that lake, drain any water from your watercraft, and ideally, let it dry out before launching it back in our lake.
E) by making sure to tell any family members or guests who might be visiting you and bringing their boats or personal watercraft from parts of Minnesota or the Upper Midwest where A.I.S. are present to make DARN SURE they've thoroughly cleaned their equipment before coming near Lake Belle Taine!
For a great visual guide to everything one needs to do to properly clean your watercraft, visit this MN DNR webpage:
If you know - or even suspect - that a boat or other watercraft has previously been in a body of water where A.I.S. might be present, you should absolutely have it decontaminated. There is a FREE watercraft decontamination service provided by the Hubbard County Environmental Services Department. They perform the service at a location just east of the Hubbard County Transfer Station (ie the dump) at 812 Henrietta Avenue South in Park Rapids. Call ahead to make an appointment at (218) 252-6738.
Docks, boat lifts and even scuba equipment can spread Aquatic Invasive Species!
Zebra Mussels have been found in rock quarries in Minnesota where clearly no boat has ever been launched.
If you buy a dock or lift from another individual, please make sure to give it a thorough inspection and cleaning before putting it in the lake. The best thing you can do is let it sit and dry out for a minimum of 21 days before putting it in the water.
If you have visitors bringing scuba equipment or anything else that has been in the water in another lake, please give it a through washing with hot water and soap and let it COMPLETELY DRY before allowing it to be used in Lake Belle Taine.
For more information on what you can to do prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species, check out any of the following informative websites:
The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (C.O.L.A.):
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website dedicated to Aquatic Invasive Species:
Andrea Dutcher is our Association's A.I.S. expert. If you'd like to help in the effort to keep Belle Taine A.I.S.-free, please call Andrea at (607) 227-5931 or drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a great resource how to clean your boat and learn more about AIS:
How can I help?
A note from Andrea Dutcher, the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Lakeshore Monitoring Coordinator for the Lake Belle Taine Association (LBTA):
One of my tasks is to help educate LBT users about AIS and what we can do for our lake.
1) AIS – What’s the big deal? Why should I care??
AIS plants tend to be more aggressive, hardy and resistant to pesticides than native plants. As AIS crowd out natives, they can create deep, thick mats making it difficult to boat, swim or fish in these areas. (There goes our good bass and crappie fishing.) It is either very labor intensive or very expensive to eradicate AIS plants. AIS zebra mussels cling by the millions to any hard surface in shallow water. They will clog your boat motor water intake area and clog your shoreline and beach well pumps. Their razor-sharp edges will cut your feet if you wade in areas infested by them. They disrupt the aquatic food chain which will also affect the fishing on LBT.
2) What Can We All Do to Help?
Only launch your boat from the public landing where trained, certified DNR inspectors are on duty. They are only there to help us protect our lake!!!!
Ask your guests who are bringing their boats where they last had their boat. If it was in infested water, have them go to a DNR decontamination site before launching their boat in our lake. Why take a chance on someone else’s boat infesting our waters??!!
ANY item that has been in a body of water infected by an AIS can transfer that invasive species to Lake Belle Taine! This includes things like scuba masks, swimming fins, or even beach toys or floating devices that have some water in them. So it's extremely important that you check your own items as well as any items that guests might bring to your cabin.
If you have to launch a boat from your own property, it should have been out of the water for 21 days. If that is not possible, inspect the boat, trailer and motor carefully for any plant fragments and zebra mussels. If you find ANY zebra mussels, then the rig needs to go to a decontamination center. The closest one to our lake is in Park Rapids and it's FREE! A car wash is not hot or powerful enough to do the job. And regardless of how long it's been out of the water, the boat bilge and live well must be dry and clean before launching.
Volunteer to be a shoreline monitor!!! We need more shoreline monitors. The LBT shoreline is divided into 16 sections for monitoring. Twice a year volunteers harvest aquatic plants from the bottom in their sections and inspect them for AIS. They then will report their findings to me. At the end of the year, I will compile the reports and send them to the DNR. (I also report immediately anything that might be AIS.) Monitoring involves a couple of hours of plant ID training, then 2 hours of monitoring in late June/early July and another 2 hours in late August/early September. Training and equipment is provided for free. You need to have some type of boat.
Volunteer to be part of "Eyes On The Water" – Learn about AIS and inspect your own shoreline and property throughout the summer. Put a zebra mussel tube at the end of your dock and check it every few weeks. Report any suspicious aquatic plant or animal. You are also asked to fill out a 5-minute survey in the fall. You can learn more about the "Eyes on the Water" program by clicking here.
To volunteer to either be a shoreline monitor or to be part of "Eyes on the Water," please contact me and I'll be happy to talk with you! You can reach me by calling or texting me at (607) 227-5931 or emailing me at email@example.com.
Finallly, the easiest way to help support the fight against AIS is to join the Lake Belle Taine Association if you're not already a member! Your dues and any extra AIS contribution help pay for the inspectors at our public access and other programs (like these) that keep invasive species out of our lake for as long as possible! Check out the "Join Us" tab on this website!