Past Winners of the Northwest Montana Lakes Network (NMLN) Award

2023 Jim Cutting
NMLN Volunteer
Rogers Lake

Jim Cutting has monitored water quality on Rogers Lake west of Kalispell for over 5 years. Jim heads out monthly between April and October to collect and report water quality parameters and notes any changes that he observes on Rogers Lake. Jim is an avid fisherman and keeps an eye out for invasive species and algae blooms throughout the summer season. Jim and his wife live close to Rogers Lake and are both artists. Previously, Jim was a mason and has done custom projects around Montana. He now focuses on smaller woodworking projects. He and his wife can be found in their studios creating and preparing for art shows around the valley or partaking in their favorite past-time… flyfishing!

2022 Susie Bouton
NMLN Volunteer
Bailey Lake

Susie Bouton and her husband moved to Bailey Lake in 1990 and soon after she attended a water quality training to be a volunteer water quality monitor. She has been monitoring water quality on Bailey Lake by canoe since 1993. She stated that “Bailey Lake is small but has a big heart” and over the years has welcomed swimmers and paddlers to its relatively warm water along with a multitude of wildlife and interesting birds. She has 30 years of records to fall back on and laments the demise of our Red Necked Grebes but welcomes the nesting hooded mergansers. Recently, she has been concerned with the algae blooms on the lake and has focused her monitoring efforts on documenting this in Bailey Lake.

2022 Terry Divoky
NMLN Volunteer
Halfmoon Lake

Terry has monitored Halfmoon Lake with her dog by canoe since 1992. She collects baseline water quality data and records and tracks bird and wildlife sightings such as bear, mink, cranes, sunning turtles, fish, and eagles. Being a lake monitor has allowed her to discover many interactions that happen on the lake that she may not have noticed if she wasn’t carefully monitoring the water quality. This includes keeping a close eye on the loons that nest on Halfmoon Lake and the many predators that often prevent the loons from producing chicks. Terry and her husband have lived on Halfmoon Lake since 1988. Terry started the Windflower Native Plant Nursery on their property where she grew Montana native plants for 12 years. Previously she worked seasonally for Glacier, was an elementary teacher in West Glacier School and a school librarian in Columbia Falls. Terry and her husband are now retired and enjoy backpacking, hiking, and traveling, as well as volunteering for several organizations including NW Montana Forest Fire Lookout Association and Gateway to Glacier Trail.

2021 Sarah Dakin
NMLN Volunteer
Echo Lake

Sarah Dakin began collecting water quality samples on Echo Lake for the Northwest Montana Lakes Network (NMLN) in 2018. She and her husband Bill live full time on Echo Lake after retiring from their careers in Columbia Falls, MT. Sarah was instrumental in the creation of the Friends of Echo Lake and is involved in the aquatic invasive species (AIS) volunteer program at the Echo Lake public boat ramp where she helps educate the public about the risk of AIS to Echo Lake and steps to take to avoid an introduction of AIS. The group has also organized clean ups of the boat launch area and is creating a database of interested lake users. In 2020, Sarah began sampling for aquatic invasive mussels using a plankton tow net as part of the Upper Columbia Lakes Network ( Sarah’s other volunteer work included a six-year stint on the board of Gateway to Glacier Trails. Her dedication, initiative and resourcefulness are appreciated by many and will help protect Echo Lake for years to come.

2020 Jim & Ann Grant, Lynn Maas
NMLN Volunteer
Lake Mary Ronan

Jim and Ann Grant and Lynn Maas have been a part of The Friends of Lake Mary Ronan since its inception. Jim and Ann began collecting water quality samples for the Northwest Montana Lakes Network (NMLN) in 2010. Through the Friends of Lake Mary Ronan, Lynn, Jim and Ann also took the initiative to expand their sampling work and requested assistance from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Volunteer Monitoring Lab Analysis Support Program. The group received funding for a short term, intensified lake and stream sampling plan to identify nutrient sources and ultimately help reduce the likelihood of algae blooms. They collect monthly water samples from April through October to evaluate water quality of Lake Mary Ronan and its inlet and outlet streams to estimate the relative contribution of pollution sources in the watershed. This effort will lead to the production of a Watershed Restoration Plan to improve overall water quality. Their dedication, teamwork, initiative and resourcefulness will help protect Mary Ronan for years to come.

2019 Barb Hvizdak
NWMTLVMN Volunteer
Sophie Lake

Barb has been a dedicated lake volunteer collecting information on Sophie Lake for the NWMTLVMN since 2012. She and her husband Ron live full time on Sophie Lake, where she loyally heads out two or three times a month from as early as March to as late as November to monitor the lake’s water quality and keep an eye out for aquatic invasive species. Barb has submitted one hundred and nineteen water quality reports in the last eight years – the highest sampling count of any volunteer in the program’s history. In 2015, she sampled seventeen times in a single season. In addition to her dedication to Sophie Lake, Barb enjoys serving on the Lincoln County Library board and quilting.

2018 Lauren Shotnik
NWMTLVMN Volunteer
Little Bitterroot Lake

The 2018 Volunteer Service Award honored Lauren Shotnik, a dedicated lake volunteer for seven seasons. She and her husband live full time on Little Bitterroot Lake where they loyally head out in their boat two or three times a month from April through October. She has submitted over seventy water quality reports in the last seven years. She is also involved with the Little Bitterroot Lake Association’s water quality program. According to Dan Handlin, president of the association, “There is no better defender of Little Bitterroot Lake than Lauren!” She participates in their Lake Education & Awareness Program (LEAP), which is a collaborative effort between the Marion School District, Little Bitterroot Lake Association, and Water & Environmental Technologies that includes outreach and education, prevention, and early detection monitoring for aquatic invasive plants and mussels.

2017 Carol Blake
NWMTLVMN Volunteer
Tetrault Lake

Carol Blake has been monitoring Tetrault Lake in Eureka for ten years.  As often as possible Carol jumps in her kayak, paddles out to the study site and records the health of what she describes as “our precious body of water.”
“With all the challenges our water sources face these days it is paramount to remain vigilant in regards to pollutants and invasive species,” noted Blake in a recent interview.  “It feels good to play some small part in the wonderful program the Whitefish Lake Institute designed to keep tabs on many bodies of water in Lincoln, Lake and Flathead Counties. I am profoundly grateful for all their hard work.”

2017 Jim Crawford
NWMTLVMN Volunteer
Jette Lake

Water quality monitoring in Jette Lake was in place when Jim moved to Polson in 1991. At that time the Flathead Lake Biological Station led the program and they were looking for a resident to check water clarity, temperature and general conditions on a regular basis.“Since I had just retired after 35 years in the corporate world, I volunteered and have been ‘the lake guy’ for the past 25 years,” explained Crawford.  “I’ve proudly watched our lake and surrounding grounds become a recreational jewel, especially after Whitefish Lake Institute took over monitoring and helped us formulate a plan to decrease noxious elements that were in the lake.”

According to Jim, Jette’s clean, clear water and outstanding swimming, boating and fishing for trout and bass are now a primary reason people move to the private subdivision.

2017 Frank Schroeter
NWMTLVMN Volunteer
Flathead Lake

Now in his 24th year as a NWMTLVMN volunteer, Frank Schroeter retired from a 34-year career as a civil engineer with Los Angeles County Road Department (Public Works) in 1990 and moved to Somers, Montana. Schroeter believes that maintaining a high degree of lake water quality and clarity enhances the value of properties in the vicinity of Flathead Lake, including his own. 

“So I heeded the 1993 invitation of the Flathead Basin Commission’s Mark Holston to volunteers who would be willing to spend a few hours a month measuring and reporting the clarity and temperature of a lake in the area,” according to Schroeter. “I am pleased to play a small part in collecting and reporting data that is useful in maintaining a continuous record of water quality in the Flathead, Schroeter notes.