Crow Wing County Lakes and Rivers Alliance

LARA will work to preserve and enhance the quality of Crow Wing County's lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.

History of the Water Warrior Award



This award was started by the Crow Wing County Lakes and Rivers Alliance (LARA) a number of years ago to recognize individuals or organizations that have worked tirelessly and selflessly to preserve Crow Wing County’s rich water resources. Past recipients have included Ted Sateropolis who helped found LARA, County Commissioner Ed Larson and Paula West of the Minnesota Lakes Association (now Minnesota Waters). Past prizes have included modest checks to be donated to the winner’s favorite charity (and LARA always secretly hoped that LARA was their favorite charity).


Current Award:

The Water Warrior Award wasn’t given out on a regular basis, but beginning in 2005, LARA decided to make the Water Warrior Award an annual event to be given out at the LARA annual meeting held at the end of each summer. In 2005, the first year of the revival of the award, LARA recognized the herculean efforts of LARA’s outgoing president, Tom Beaver. We awarded Tom a framed print done by Baxter artist Jan Finger, along with a poem written by incoming president, Phil Hunsicker. The poems have continued each year along with Jan’s prints, but we have also included framed photographs by Mike Duval, a former LARA board member.

In the years following Tom Beaver’s award, we have recognized:

County Planner Bonnie Finnerty (2006) for her efforts to revise shoreland zoning in the county.

Sandy Holm (2007), a LARA board member and water quality monitoring expert with Minnesota Waters.

Jack Walschlager (2008) who had been active in the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) and the Pine River Watershed Alliance.

Ron Meyer (2009) for his efforts in organizing legislative forums that got legislators from St. Paul to come north to hear about pressing lake issues from lakes advocates, and how our elected representatives can help.

Clyde Clement (2010) for his work with the Brainerd Lakes Area Invasive Species Task Force which trains lake professionals like dock installers and fishing guides on how to keep aquatic invasive species from spreading from one lake to the next.

Don Hickman (2011) of the Initiative Foundation for leading the Healthy Lakes and Rivers Partnership and for helping to start the CWEPA Fund.

Dan Swanson (2012) of the DNR for his service to lake associations dealing with aquatic invasive species.

Dan Steward (2013) of the Board of Water and Soil Resources for his work with the county to create a revised water plan that recommends best management practices based on watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries.

Mike Duval (2014) of the DNR and former LARA Board member for his ongoing service in all matters relating to the water(s) in Crow Wing County.

Ron Hedlund (2015) for his contributions in the fight against AIS, writing effective lake management plans, and being the driving force behind the designation of County Road 19 as a natural preservation route.

Kent Montgomery (2016) for his educational efforts to create more stewards of our lakes.


Criteria for Choosing the Winner of the Water Warrior Award:

LARA board members may nominate an individual or organization for the Water Warrior Award. Members of LARA may also nominate candidates, but the ultimate decision is left up to the discretion of LARA’s Education Committee. The award is to recognize an individual or organization that is working tirelessly and selflessly for the preservation of Crow Wing County’s most precious natural resource: its water. Examples of criteria for selection as a Water Warrior can include, but are not limited to, the following: an effort to educate a community on water-related issues; creation of ordinances or laws that serve to preserve water, shoreland, or quality of life; being engaged, principled and an inspiring example to others.