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Winter conservation program launched on West Battle Lake

The West Battle Lake Lakeshore Association announced a new winter conservation program that involves a partnership with FFA students in Battle Lake School District 542, Minnesota DNR conservation officers, and area sports enthusiasts.

After years of sponsoring clean-up following the ice fishing season, the West Battle Lake Lakeshore Association has decided to pursue a preventive approach to winter conservation.

"With the growing popularity of ice-fishing and shelters that are conducive to long stays on the lake, the amount and type of debris has become concerning," WBLLA Vice President Chad Schaefer said. "Not surprisingly the majority of the pollution is usually attributed to a handful of people that have little regard for conservation. We hope to influence some positive change with awareness and prevention."

The association will implement an innovative concept that includes education, lake monitoring, technology, and law enforcement to heighten conservation during the winter months.

Beginning this winter, fishermen will be reminded to keep the lake clean. Area bait shops will apply stickers to bait bags to create awareness about the lake monitoring program and remind fisherman of their important role in lake conservation.

At scheduled intervals during the fishing season, area FFA students will survey the lake for pollution and debris.

They will utilize digital cameras, GPS units, and Google Earth mapping to track fish house registration numbers where debris is found.

The role of the FFA students is only to monitor the lake on behalf of the West Battle Lake Lakeshore Association. The students will wear highly visible winter conservation vests and will not confront anyone. In the case of flagrant debris, the students will provide the WBLLA with digital evidence, and the association will then contact the local DNR conservation officers for follow-up.

WBLLA president Mark Cory is optimistic about the winter conservation program.

"The fact that area sportsmen, businesses, students and conservation officers have all enthusiastically embraced this program speaks volumes about its importance and value," Cory said. "We hope awareness and education, more than anything else, will change conservation habits to preserve the quality of West Battle Lake."