Annual Member Meeting & Membership Recap

The PLA Board is very pleased to announce that general membership is up 37% from 294 members in 2017 to 403 members in 2018! Thanks for the support of our many new members and the continued support of existing members!

The PLA has also had a significant increase in fireworks and other charitable contributions from local businesses and PLA members.  This increase in funding has not only allowed a bigger and better fireworks presentation, but also allowed the PLA to contribute $1000 to the Watershed District for radio tagging carp as part of the effort to control their population.

Many thanks also to those who attended our recent Fall meeting and to our speakers: Scott County Sheriff Luke Hennen and Deputy Spencer Autenrieth, Jaime Rockney from the Watershed District, and Mike Thompson from the Scott County Assessors Office.  PLA member Mike Thibault also contributed his time and talents in creating this video of 2018 PLA highlights for the meeting.

In early 2019, we will again be promoting our Spring Membership Drive followed by the Ice Out Party in March.  To help control our mailing costs (second only to fireworks costs), please use the electronic payment option on our website to renew your membership and make your appreciated contributions starting January 1, 2019.

Looking forward to a fun (hopefully shorter than 2018) winter on the lake and hope to see everyone at the Ice Out Party!
Steve Reinders, PLA President

Fish Die Off On Spring Lake has Spread to Prior Lake

The fish die off on Spring Lake that resulted in thousands of dead crappies has now spread to Prior Lake. Please read this article from the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District and report any dead fish found on your beach.
If you have photos of the fish die off on Prior Lake, you can share them to our Facebook page.
Prior Lake Association Board
PS. Don’t forget about our annual meeting on October 11th! RSVP HERE!

Winners of the 2018 Photo Contest!

We received over 50 AMAZING photo submissions for this years PLA Photo Contest! It was an extremely difficult task for the PLA Board Members to narrow the submissions down to only three! We focused on images that best represented the beauty and lifestyle of Prior Lake and its residents. Thank you to everyone who participated!

First Place: Matt Schafer 

1 Matt Schafer.jpg

Second Place: Mike Thibault 

2 Mike Thibault 4.jpg

Third Place: Andhra Lehrer 

3 Andrah Leher 2.jpg

Honorable Mention: J. Konchar 

HM J Konchar 1.jpeg

Honorable Mention: Mike Myser

HM Mike Myser 4.jpg

Another Fun 4th On Prior Lake!

2018 brought another fun Fourth of July week for the Prior Lake Association and its members!  With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, it appeared that many lake-goers took advantage by celebrating for the entire week!

The PLA-hosted festivities began on the 4th at 1pm for the annual Boat Parade! There were 16 entries and despite some stormy weather, everyone had a great time!

Winners of the Boat Parade:

Grand Prize:  Vikings 'SKOL' Boat;  James Cuka
Pontoon Winner:  FORTNITE Boat;  Schafer Team
Runabout Winner:  PATRIOTIC;  Heather Newcomb
Other Winner:  MN MERMAID;  Jemma Wahl

The unpredictable weather left some of us board members worried that our evening fireworks show may end up cancelled. But lo and behold, the storms held off and the Prior Lake Association was able to once again bring another amazing fireworks display to the lake!  This years display was bigger, better and louder than previous years!

A very special thanks to all of our PLA Members and Local Businesses who sponsored this event!  

Finally, the week of fun was wrapped up with a FREE Ice Cream Social near the Wagon Bridge on July 7th! PLA Board Members passed out ice cream to boats passing by and met with fellow lake enthusiasts for an enjoyable afternoon on the water! Thank you to Mayor Briggs for being the guest of honor! Check out the photo gallery to see if you got caught on the paparazzi cam!

Everyone's support and contributions to the PLA are greatly appreciated! We couldn't continue to provide these entertaining events without our annual members, the City of Prior Lake Government and support of so many local businesses. Looking forward to doing it all again next July!


LAKESMARTS: Boat and Water Safety

It is the responsibility of all watercraft owners and operators to learn and understand good boating and water safety practices. Boaters are responsible for knowing the rules (Prior Lake Ordinance Section 703).

Quick Guide:

1. No towing in all NO WAKE zones.

2. No wake within 150’ of shore.

3. Speed limit 40 mph – Sunrise to ½ hour after sunset (weekends & holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day.

4. Speed limit 20 mph – ½ hour after sunset to sunrise (all times during the year).

5. Operate your watercraft at a “slow-no wake” speed when you are close to swimming areas, docks, rafts, moored watercraft, and fishing boats or when signs or buoys direct you to do so.

6. Slow-no wake means that you should be operating at the slowest possible speed to maintain steerage, but not greater than 5 mph.

Common Courtesy Guidelines:

1. Be mindful of your wake. Stay towards the middle of the lake when wake surfing, wake boarding or operating at bow high altitudes for extended periods of time. This will help reduce the impact of larger wakes on the shoreline and moored boats.

2. Be polite with volume levels. Boat sound systems operating at high levels can easily be heard by the shoreline and other boats. Tower speakers will maximize this effect and can cause frustration with people on the shore.

3. Change it up. Vary your location on the lake when engaging in watersports for long periods of time. This will help minimize the effects of wakes, sound and traffic in one single location.

4. Right of Way. Give paddle sports and sailboats plenty of leeway. These activities have less control than a powered craft and can be more impacted by boat wakes.

Know Your Buoys!


For more information on boat and water safety and education courses, visit The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at:

Teaching Children the Importance of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Although they develop their own attitudes, perceptions and philosophies over time, most children reflect the views and priorities of their parents. For modern hunters and anglers, few things are as satisfying to see from their sons and daughters, as a blossoming love of wildlife and desire to protect it.

But although your children will likely follow in your footsteps to some degree without extraordinary efforts on your part, you can help nurture your child’s conservation-oriented instincts by embracing a number of techniques, strategies and practices.

Methods to Remember: Concrete Steps for Teaching Conservation to Kids


– Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist 1968

This oft-used quote perfectly encapsulates the reasons why education is so important to conservation: It helps foster a love, and therefore a desire to protect, the natural world. Essentially, if you begin teaching your child about various parts of nature, their conservationist instincts will rise to the surface.

Fortunately, there are an endless number of activities in which you can engage with your kids to help teach them about nature. And most of them will be fun for both of you:

  • Teach your children to identify various species. Children (and adults, for that matter) love to feel like experts, so teach your child to identify the local trees, the fish species you see at the local pond or the songbirds flittering around in your backyard.
  • Maintain a life list. Life lists are usually books or, in the modern world, computer files, which tally all of the different species your child observes over the course of his or her life. They usually focus on a given category of nature, but you can include anything you like on the list. For example, life lists are commonly maintained by birding enthusiasts – each time they encounter a new species, they record the date and time, and perhaps include a photo. Over the years, your child will add more and more entries to the list.
  • Play conservation- and nature-oriented games. Games are always a fun way to teach your child important lessons, especially if your children are between about 4 and 9 years of age. Games need not be elaborate – a simple scavenger hunt or game of I-spy conducted at a park or local forest is great fun and very educational. The World Wildlife Fund and Arkive both list several fun computer-based games on their website, and there are also plenty of trivia games that your child will love too. If your little one is interested in hunting, you may want to play the game Oh Dear! A game that teaches children about wildlife population fluctuations.
  • Attend workshops, seminars and presentations together. On any given weekend, there is usually some type of nature- or conservation-oriented presentation being offered at a local nature center or park. Many sporting goods stores also host guest speakers who work in some type of outdoor field. These types of activities are usually very affordable (or free) and they’ll delight and educate your child.
  • Consume different types of media relating to conservation. While most parents struggle to get their child away from the television and outside, it’s important that you don’t discount the educational value of books, television shows, documentaries and websites that focus on the natural world. Obviously, you’ll want to encourage a moderate, measured approach to these types of media, but they are helpful for fostering a love of conservation.
  • Make plaster casts of the animal tracks you find with your child. This will not only help your child to learn to find and identify tracks, but it lets them take part of the experience home with them. Plaster casts are fairly easy to make, and your child will probably enjoy helping you with the prep work.
  • Have your child help prepare dinner – especially when dinner includes fish or game that you’ve harvested. Often, young children fail to make the connection between the plants and animals in the real world, and the food that ends up on the dinner table. By allowing them to help wash vegetables and season filets, you can help them make the connection and understand the connection between the natural world and the dinner table. Of course, growing some of your own vegetables is also a great way to help drive home these lessons.
  • Take your child hunting or fishing with you. There’s simply no better way to introduce your child to the great outdoors than by introducing them to some of the ways you enjoy interacting with wildlife. You’ll obviously need to keep safety in mind, tailor the outing to your child’s age and capabilities and follow your local laws and regulations, but you can usually find ways to involve your kids in your pastime. Even kids as young as 3 or 4 can have a blast fishing with a cane pole or helping mom or dad scout hunting grounds for scat, scrapes, sheds and tracks.

The Ancillary Benefits of Teaching Your Child to Be a Good Conservationist

  • Teaching your kids the virtues of conservation may be the primary goal, but you’ll both enjoy a wealth of other benefits while doing your part to conserve wildlife. Some of these advantages and joys will be simple and short-lived, but others are profound enough to last a lifetime.

  • Teaching your child anything means that you get more time with him or her. Research shows that the more time you spend with your child, the less likely they are to be depressed during adolescence.
  • Many conservation activities take place outside, and time spent in the natural world has myriad health benefits. Among other things, kids who engage in outdoor activities develop a positive opinion of nature, and they are more likely to develop good self-discipline.
  • Other conservation activities take place inside, and give you something to do on a rainy day. This gives you a chance to redirect your children’s attention from the game console or television to an educational and fun activity.
  • You may spark your child’s interest in a conservation-oriented profession. Some types of conservation work are classified as STEM careers, which are not only in high demand, but they are also typically stable careers that pay relatively well.


Get Out There and Put These Tips into Action

Remember, the most important step in teaching your child about the importance of conservation is to simply foster a love of the natural world. And the best way to do this is by sharing the things you love about nature and teaching them the things you already know.

Don’t worry about making mistakes – that’s part of the process. Just get out there and enjoy nature with your children; if they are anything like you, a love of nature will emerge in short order.


Written by Ben Team

Submitted Jon Sutten,

The Full Original Article Can be Viewed Here

DNR to Fishermen: Clean Up or Pay Up

The DNR is using GPS technology and hands-on sleuthing to crack down on ice fishermen who leave litter. Fines are as high as $2,000.

In an early sign that spring is not far away, the state of Minnesota is once again reminding winter anglers that it’s more than bad manners to leave trash on the ice — it’s a crime that carries a financial penalty.

In their annual face-off with littering fishermen, Department of Natural Resources officers are riding snowmobiles and toting GPS receivers to mark the fish houses with messes around them, and they are prepared to slap owners with fines as large as $2,000.

But when the wind pushes trash around the lake, conservation officers such as Adam Block, a cop turned conservation officer in Prior Lake, often end up using less high-tech techniques to track down culprits.

“A lot of the time you end up digging through the garbage bags to find out if there’s anything you can find a name to or a receipt to,” Block said.

To the DNR and those who have lake homes, littering is a serious problem.

Throughout the ice-fishing season, officers find food packaging, beer cans and propane tanks stacked against fish houses and scattered around lakes across the state, said Capt. Ken Soring, the DNR’s northeast region enforcement manager.

But by far the messiest time of the season comes around the state’s deadline for fishermen to pull their houses off the ice, Soring said. In the southern two thirds of Minnesota, that is March 1, and officers expect to find loose insulation, wood blocks and even entire fish houses abandoned on the ice.

Even human waste — sometimes tied up in plastic grocery bags — can be a part of the trash. After all, “people don’t have a bathroom or portable toilet in their fish house,” Soring said.

To reel in littering fishermen as they move their shacks around the lake, DNR officers photograph messy fish houses and mark their GPS coordinates.

“Once the shelter is gone and the garbage is still there, we have an idea of who to talk to,” Block said.

Some anglers help by picking up others’ loose trash and reporting messy houses.

Said Block, “I think a lot of people are starting to police themselves, which is what we want.”

Fisherman Tim Sonenstahl, of St. Michael, said he picks up after others in part because he doesn’t want all fisherman to get a bum rap.

“They don’t want that image that it’s all the fishermen doing it,” said Sonenstahl, 46. “There’s lots of people out [on the lake].” He’s among many fisherman who, after the season is done, troll the ice and do a final cleanup.

“There are trash hogs out here, but there are people on the other side of the fence who want to be able to swim in there during the summer,” Sonenstahl said.

Block said that some of the culprits are people who go to fish houses for reasons other than angling.

“They may not have much of an interest in fishing,” Block said. “But they may be interested in drinking beer.”

For those who ignore the warnings and get tagged by the DNR for littering, the price can be hefty.

Conservation officers can issue criminal citations with a fine of $300 or civil citations with a by-the-pound penalty that can climb to $2,000.

Items such as appliances, batteries and tires can add as much as $100 each to the fine.

Said Block, “[fishermen] put a lot of time into getting these [fish houses] built, and they pay a lot of money to buy them, so they should know the laws. Sometimes it just comes down to laziness.”

Original article from the Star Tribue, February 5th, 2010

Author, Ian Larson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune

LAKESMARTS: Controlling Carp to Improve Water Quality

Common carp are an invasive species and are prevalent in Upper Prior Lake and previously in Spring Lake (prior to a very successful seine in 2017 where roughly 70% of the population (17 tons) was removed). Carp can live over sixty years and grow to a length of more than 3 feet! They mature when they are 2-3 years old at which time they are roughly 1 foot in length.

Carp adversely impact water quality by uprooting aquatic plants, stirring up sediments from the lake bottom, and releasing harmful phosphorus, which can lead to algae blooms as well as reduced water clarity. Studies estimate the carp population in Upper Prior is approximately 3.5 times higher than the management level (recommended ecological threshold value for carp is 100 kg/ha).

After the successful seine of Spring Lake, the current carp biomass was calculated at 84.9 (±27.3) kg/ha, which is below the ecological threshold value of 100 kg/ha. Based on electrofishing by the Watershed District, the estimated carp population for Upper Prior is 342.45 kg/ha carp biomass and the estimate for Lower Prior is 9.72 kg/ha carp biomass.

Several important methods are underway to control carp including barriers, physical removal and biological control.


In 2016, the Watershed District began a Passive Integrate Transponder (PIT) tagging project that helped track carp movement. The small, coded wire PIT tags have been implanted in approximately 300 carp. PIT tags allow the District to track carp at all times of day and varying size/age of fish as they travel into or out of specific areas where receivers have been placed. The tags have also allowed the District to identify key areas carp enter during spawning season. The District now installs seasonal barriers in these areas to prevent carp congregation for spawning.

Adult Carp Removal with Seine Nets:

The PIT tagging project has helped to identify carp favorite hangouts during ideal seining seasons. The District anticipates that it will have one or two seine events in Upper Prior Lake over the next year in an effort to remove a significant portion of the population. This should help provide some significant water quality improvements in Upper Prior Lake.

Biological Control:

Young carp survive poorly in lakes that have abundant bluegill population. In fact, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) has identified that bluegills can control carp populations by consuming carp eggs and larvae, and thus limiting survival of offspring. The University of Minnesota is conducting studies on the relationship between bluegill and carp in hopes of determining appropriate bluegill stocking levels as an ongoing potential carp management tool.

Carp Management is a multi-level and multi-organizational effort. The Watershed District hopes to successfully seine carp during the winter months. Barriers will be in place during spawning season and, ongoing research will provide us with data regarding the appropriate levels of bluegills for ongoing efforts of keeping carp levels well managed. Data from water quality monitoring of a nearby wetland area shows that the water going into this body is cleaner than the water going out during carp spawning season. The Prior Lake Association will continue to provide the community with updates on this massive effort as well as others that are implemented with the goal of improving the quality and clarity of our waters.

Sources: Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District