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Stowe Lake Association

Summer 2019 Newsletter


The Stowe Lake Association was formed in 2013 by lake residents to work together to improve the lake.  The Association was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under a charter issued by the State of Minnesota on September 19, 2013.  The activities of the Association are governed and directed by an elected board of seven directors, each of whom is a resident on Stowe Lake.  Membership in the Association is voluntary with payment of annual dues set by the members.  

The Mission of the Association is to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of the water of Stowe Lake.  And to maintain and improve the fishing and shoreline management of Stowe Lake.


The current officers of the association are Mike Cleary, President, Al Stevenson, Vice President and Keith Rowe, Secretary/Treasurer.  Other board members include Chris Risbrudt, Merl King and Mike Kretschmar.


Our Website


The Stowe Lake Association website can be found at www.stowelake.com.

The site contains interesting history of the resort and dam and the person the lake was named after.  It also contains a full color booklet on identifying aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as milfoil and zebra mussels.  Check it out.


The Lake


Stowe Lake is a 366 acre lake which has a large watershed with two major inlets.  Hoplin Creek enters the lake on the east side and delivers water from Big and Little Chippewa, Whiskey and Devils Lake.  Wolf Creek enters the lake on the north side and flows from Stockhausen, Stockhaven and Upper and Lower Hunt Lakes.  The outlet on the west side is the start of the Chippewa River, which flows west to join the Minnesota River at Montivideo, MN. 


The Watershed


The watershed for Stowe Lake drains 105,974 acres of farmland from as far away as Ottertail County north of Urbank, MN.  Most of this area drains directly into Stowe Lake via Douglas County Ditch 4-16 (aka Wolf Creek).


This ditch is the major source of suspended solids and nutrients entering our lake.

Discussions held with the Department of Natural resources (DNR) regarding various methods for filtering or settling these containments prior to reaching the lake have not yet resulted in any financially feasible options.  We keep trying.


Lake Levels


Lake levels fluctuate significantly depending on the frequency significant storm water runoff events from the large upstream watershed.  A five-bay stop log dam was constructed in 1936 by Works Progress Administration employees to increase depth.  Less than three years later (1939), operational restrictions required removal of all stop logs.  Remnant concrete abutments remain in place, but the structure is in poor repair and does not function to impede outflows.  Surface elevation of Stowe Lake had long been determined by the invert elevations and flow capacity of two, 6.5 ft. diameter culverts under Stowe Lake Road.


In 2016, we began to monitor lake levels on a weekly basis and after each heavy rain.  This has been accomplished by reading a DNR lake level gauge located on the south east area of the lake.  The Ordinary High Water Level (OWH) of the lake is 1341.5 feet.  The normal annual fluctuation is about 2 feet from spring to fall. 


We contacted the DNR regarding reestablishment of the dam to control fluctuations in the lake level but were told that we would need 100% of the property owners on the lake to agree but found it impossible to obtain.


Water Sampling


Lake residents took occasional water samples and depth reading from 2000 to 2009.  Since 2015, the Lake Association has taken samples of the lake water monthly from May through September of each year. 


The samples are sent to RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc. in Detroit Lakes for analysis and recording of clarity (via secchi disk readings) and levels of phosphorus and chlorophyll-a.  The results of this testing do not show any significant trends to date.  The complete results can be viewed at  https://www.rmbel.info/data/





Fish Stocking


The DNR conducts a fish survey every 6 years, the latest occurring just this summer. They use these surveys to determine the population and health of the fish and to determine future stocking levels.  The DNR normally stock every other year but this is supplemented in the off years by the lake association together with the local sportsmen clubs.


Only walleye fingerlings have been stocked since 2012.  The MN DNR defines walleye “fingerlings” as being one to six months old ranging in length from three to eight inches and have the best chance for survival.  It then takes about 4 years to grow to keeper size.  More information on stocking and can be found at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html


Rough Fish


The lake has a healthy population of rough fish to include carp, fresh water drum (sheephead) and bigmouth buffalo.  The DNR used to seine Stowe on a regular basis until it discontinued the practice in 1990.  The lake was not seined again until the Lake Association, in conjunction with the Brandon Fin & Feather Sportsman Club, organized an under the ice seining in 2012.   Approximately 50,000 pounds of fish was taken out of the lake with 95 percent carp.  The rough fish were shipped to markets in the eastern part of the United States. 


Unfortunately, the company that did the seining in 2012 is no longer interested as falling fish prices have made it less economical.  The DNR tells us that this has been the case state-wide.  We continue to look for other control methods.  In the interim, please do not return any rough fish you catch to the lake.  It is unlawful to return dead rough fish also so please bury them on shore or wrap and dispose of them in your garbage.


Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)


Zebra Mussels were found in both Whiskey lake and Big Chip lake in 2017.  Since both of these lakes drain into Stowe via Devils and Little Chippewa Lakes, it is inevitable that they will find their way to Stowe.  So far, there have been no confirmed reports of zebra mussels in our lake but its only a matter of time.  If you see any, take a picture and send it to the DNR and to Mike Cleary (mcleary@gctel.net).



While zebra mussels have been in Minnesota for a least a dozen years, we are still learning about them and the changes they bring to a lake.  Initially, they remove some of the phosphorus from the center of the lake which results in increased clarity.  Unfortunately, they deposit it near shore in their excrement resulting in a slimy, fouled shoreline.  They are also very sharp and can easily cut bare feet and even through water socks.  They can also attach to your boat and motor.


Be sure to follow the rules when launching or removing your boat from the water:

CLEAN watercraft of aquatic plant and species

DRAIN all water by removing drain plugs

DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash

DRY docks, lifts, etc. for 21 days before placing in another lake


We Need Your Support


Most of the approximately 80 property owners on the lake use the lake for fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skis and pontoon rides.  However, fewer than one-fourth are members of the association.


We need your financial support to pay for testing the water samples being sent to RMB Labs and for matching funds for fish stocking.  We also pay dues to the Douglas County lakes Association, which sponsors educational events and lobbying efforts with Douglas County and the State of Minnesota. 


It’s easy to join.  Just write a check for $20 each year payable to the Stowe Lake Association and mail it to our treasurer, Keith Rowe, 9648 Walleye Rd NW, Brandon, MN 56315.  If you are already a member, we thank you for your continued support.


We are also looking for volunteers to serve on our board.  We currently have an opening and would welcome anyone to join us.


We would also like your email address to be able to communicate more easily.


It is important for us to preserve and improve this lake to maintain property values and to pass on this natural resource to future generations.