To residents and regular visitors, Lake of the Woods is a pristine patch of natural paradise. Countless bays and inlets provide a unique sense of privacy, and the lake and surrounding habitat is home to sturgeon, walleye and trout, piping plover, and nesting bald eagles.

The lake is also internationally known as one of the 40 largest freshwater bodies in the world—iconic for its 14,000-some islands and more than 105,000 kilometres of shoreline.

Property owners, many from Manitoba and Ontario, have a direct stake in the region’s health. But so do overnight campers, hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, and citizens of nearby communities, to say nothing of the flora and fauna that have flourished here for millennia.

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Needless to say, protecting the lake and neighbouring ecosystems requires considerable effort, which is where the Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association (LOWDSA) comes in.

“Is that the Lake of the Woods region remains one of the most beautiful places on Earth,” explains Patrick Paulo, the organization’s Executive Director.

It’s a lofty vision, but LOWSDA has the educational and practical components in place to see it through. Engagement is paramount, and many lake-lovers are already involved through a LOWSDA membership. As Paulo points out, members don’t have to be property owners or residents; they can simply care about the future of Lake of the Woods.

“It’s all about promoting stewardship, about taking pride in the area and sharing a passion for lake life,” he says. “A lot of the work we do is educating and engaging the public, and our membership, about living and playing here, and ensuring the lake is beautiful and thriving.”

LOWSDA members are kept informed about issues including water quality, septic systems and area wildlife and have access to exclusive events, such as the annual Cottage Show. They also have a voice in environmental conversations concerning the watershed and shoreline. And, perhaps most crucially, they support the LakeSmart outreach program.

Staffed by a team of post-secondary students, LakeSmart is equipped with knowledge and resources to help maintain shoreline buffer zones, reduce run-off, use eco-friendly cleaning products, encourage boat safety and prevent the spread of invasive species.

“They also do one-on-one customized dock visits that educate people on how to enjoy the lake safely,” explains Paulo. “It all helps members take pride in and responsibility for Lake of the Woods.”

Memberships can be purchased online at Full membership is $60.00 per year and includes all LOWDSA benefits, programs, and resources, including five issues of the Area News Magazine. A Virtual Membership is also available at $52.00 per year and includes access to digital copies of the publication.

Memberships can be purchased here.

There has never been a better time to become involved with the Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association because, as Paulo points out, it is celebrating its 60th anniversary this summer.

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“It’s a great milestone for the association and it kind of captures our many years of positive change in the area,” he says. He also encourages anyone interested in the lake, LOWDSA or conservation generally to watch the organization’s anniversary video at Several articles will also run in nearby communities as a sort of legacy series.

“It’s really just all about promoting stewardship and sharing your passion for lake life,” he says. “We want to ensure that the lake is beautiful and thriving for future generations.”