Environmental issues

Most resorts are on lakes in Minnesota, so it’s not too surprising that resort owners consider lakes their biggest asset and work diligently to protect them. Many resort owners spend extra money, voting with their wallet to preserve and protect their surroundings.

A case in point is Bill Heig at Bowen Lodge. He’s extremely proud of his septic system: he even takes interested guests out to the drain field to show them the elaborate arrangement with peat filtration containers built on a site that ensures all effluent drains away from the lake.

“This is where your money goes,” he tells the guests. He believes that doing the right thing is one his best marketing tools in addition to being a good practice. “People want to know that you care for the lake and the property, and we do.” He even had the installer bore horizontally through the ground so he wouldn’t have to displace as many trees.

Deb Kellerman at Angle inn Lodge is very active in teaching people environmentally friendly practices. “We live on an island,” she said, “so it only makes sense. Every bit of garbage has to be hauled off, so we are very careful about what we buy to ensure that it involves as little packaging as possible.”  She has facilitated classes for other business owners in Baudette and Warroad to teach them about managing waste, energy efficiency, and conserving water, among other things.

When Larry Jacobson at Hiawatha Beach Resort needed to improve his harbor he worked with the Minnesota DNR to establish spawning habitat for the walleyes. The DNR told him that his project effectively established as much spawning habitat as two and a half miles of shoreline.

Around Ely the resort owners have been very active in pressing PolyMet and the government about the practice of sulfide mining near the BWCA, and for good reason. There are very legitimate concerns about the long-term threat of sulfuric acid leaking from supposedly-contained disposal sites and entering the lakes and wetlands. Needless to say, this would be terrible for the environment as well as terrible for business for Ely resort owners, so the concerns driving environmental stewardship dovetail precisely with the resort owner’s concern with the wellness of his business.

The list goes on and on. Since many of the resorts will pass (or already have passed) from generation to generation, the owners take a long-term view toward the sustainability of the resource.

These days business owners are often vilified, portrayed as pure profit seekers who only care about what is expedient and not necessarily what’s right. This characterization certainly doesn’t apply to Minnesota’s resort owners, who are doing everything they can to ensure we can all enjoy Minnesota’s resources for years to come.






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