The summer of a slow, no wake, boat ride

This summer has been stamped by the incredible destruction caused in and around Duluth, as torrential rain caused unprecedented flooding. Last July, it was Wright County that was in the bull’s-eye, continually getting pounded with a handful storms in a two-week period that each brought approximately two inches of rain – with localized totals for some of the storms being significantly higher. It was during this time of extreme rain that pushed area lake levels dangerously high. In conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Wright County Board of Commissioners enacted a temporary emergency no-wake zone on several lakes in Wright County.
At the July 3 meeting of the county board, the process of putting more teeth – and more permanence – into the temporary ordinance put in last year began.
Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer came before the board at the request of Commissioner Rose Thelen to set a public hearing for a proposed Water Surface Use Ordinance for a list of lakes that would enact a means of imposing a 300-foot no-wake zone at times of high water levels.
Last July, 15 lakes had temporary no-wake zones imposed – Albion, Augusta, Bass, Caroline, Clearwater, East/West Sylvia, Henshaw, Locke, Louisa, Marie, Mill Pond, Nixon, Pleasant, Swartout and Sugar. In addition, a 300-foot no-wake zone was put in place on Cedar Lake. Kryzer said the purpose of the proposed ordinance would be to put the emergency rules unexpectedly put in place last year into part of county protocol in the event of a repeat occurrence.
“Last year, we used emergency procedures that the DNR had in place,” Kryzer said. “The purpose of the ordinance proposal is to make those procedures permanent and have a plan in place when lake levels hit a certain point above normal high-water marks. The ordinance would call for a 300-foot no-wake zone when those levels are hit.”
Kryzer said the purpose of the ordinance is not to create another level of bureaucracy. In fact, the county would have little to do with the actual imposition of no-wake zones. Rather, it would put rules in place for lake associations to determine when their own lakes are in danger of sediment degradation.
“The ordinance is being tied closely into individual lake associations,” Kryzer said. “They are the ones that are bringing this forward and doing the groundwork to set the parameters for their lake if the ordinance is adopted. We’re setting up the framework for the ordinance, but it is the lake associations that are the driving force behind it. High water levels result in the erosion of the fine sediment that is on the shore and, combined with waves help pull the sediment into the lake and decrease the water quality. It’s up to each lake association and the residents on each lake to determine what the level at which restrictions would be put on.”
To date, four lake associations have informed the county that they want to be of the ordinance if it is approved – Cedar Lake, East/West Lake Sylvia, Sugar Lake and Howard Lake. Kryzer pointed out that the lake associations would be responsible for setting high-water levels for their own lakes and that, even if imposed, it wouldn’t ban boats and watercraft from operating on the lakes, just limit the areas in which they could run to 100 yards from shore.
The board set a public hearing for the discussion of the proposed ordinance for 9:31 at the Aug. 21 board meeting.
In other items on the July 3 agenda, the board:
•Authorized the removal of beavers from a dam near Rasset Pit, located on Co. Rd. 35 west of Buffalo. The board also voted to proceed with getting cost estimates for fencing between a county-owned parcel and a neighbor. The approval to construct the fence was approved in 1990, but was never completed. Due to Green Acres legislation changes, the landowner must have his land in production by the end of summer or face a penalty from the state.