None of the money being filtered from taxpayers as a result of the state's outdoors/environment Constitutional Amendment made it as far as Lake Shetek on Monday.
Not a dime of the millions of dollars worth of Minnesota State Lottery proceeds earmarked every year under the Game & Fish Fund or Environment & Natural Resources Fund was anywhere to be found.
The Department of Natural Resources, an organization some would call overly bureaucratic, prides itself on taking care of Minnesota's great outdoors yet there were no DNR trucks on Valhalla Road that morning.
What happened Monday on Shetek had nothing to do with fiscal distribution or state-run agencies. What happened Monday on Shetek had everything to do with well-meaning, humble folks rolling up their sleeves, getting dirty and smelly and working as one to do what's right.
A number of volunteers among the 25 to 30 of them spent the better part of the day wading through dead carp and tossing them up on land. Others stood on shore with shovels and pitchforks, scooping and stabbing as they loaded 30-pound fish carcasses onto trailers and tractor buckets. They came away smelling like they had just bathed in fish emulsion.
But these good people - from 11-year-olds to 50-year-olds - also came away with a sense of accomplishment, a sense of job-well-done pride. They could walk tall when they were done because by that time, the lake referred to simply as "Shetek" was on its way back to normalcy.
"People here have a valid interest in the lake and are taking care of it," said Shetek resident Mark Slettum, one of the main organizers of the party. "It's a matter of taking a not-so-good situation and turning it into something good. It's not life-or-death just not-so-fun and stinky. I've had people who have called who don't live by the lake but they want to come out fishing, so they get involved. I think that's awesome.
"It was a hard winter," Slettum added. "When you get that amount of snow and you don't get that photosynthesis underneath, you're gonna have winterkill. I think if there's a silver lining, most of the winterkill seems to be contained to carp. Kind of nature's way of gettin' rid of the crud. I can certainly think of worse things."
This is kind of what being a rural Minnesotan is all about - that and not having your gag reflex triggered by the smell of fish. It's not just about neighbor helping neighbor, it's about neighbors helping the environment, helping the lake that is used by thousands of people from all over the state every summer.
It's about proud people stepping up and taking action. No one was there Monday to complain about the DNR's absence because they understood it's not the DNR's responsibility. Plus, they knew complaining wouldn't get the fish out.
"This is a good thing," Slettum said before Monday's work began. "People have gotten together I met some people I've never met before. People want to help and get involved. I think that's awesome."
Lake Shetek belongs to everyone, and even though not everyone is willing or able to lift it up when it's at its lowest there are enough people who care enough to do some of heavy lifting. This is the way they did things in the '60s when a similar winterkill occurred on Shetek. We might have better equipment today, but the attitude is the same.
And that's refreshing.
"It's the people's lake, you know?" volunteer Elmer Brake said Monday. "It's just not the residents that live here. It's gonna smell a long time if we don't do something."
The smell might not quite be gone yet - you just don't Febreze THAT stench away - but it will fade. What won't fade is the bond people around here have with their corner of the outdoors world, whether it's in a lake or in a field - a bond that was made a bit stronger Monday.
Darrell Kleve has seen his share of major winterkills throughout the years on Shetek. And like the others pitching in Monday, he said the work they were doing was simply something that needed to be done. Going out to help was a no-brainer.
"We're keeping the lake clean," he said. "That's the idea."