July 10, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
On Friday, Minneapolis Park Board staff will begin restricting boat launching on city lakes in order to ensure that sailboats and motorboats aren’t carrying invasive species that threaten the future of the lakes.
The new restrictions, passed by the Park Board in June, have stirred up some in the local fishing community, who says the rules are privatizing public resources and limiting the times they can fish.
“I understand the need to protect the lakes from aquatic invasive species, but I feel your efforts are greatly misdirected,” wrote Darin Sorenson in an e-mail to the Park Board.
Sorenson’s e-mail was one of many sent to the Park Board asking commissioners to reconsider their decision.
Deb Pilger, director of environmental operations, said the Park Board is requiring the inspections in order to protect the lakes for years to come, not privatizing them.
“I wonder why people think we’re privatizing them. I mean, we’re a public lake system,” she said. “There are park systems all over the metro and the state that have hours when you can get into and out of their parks.”
The new regulations require inspections of all boat launches, but Park Board inspectors will only be on duty from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; as well as from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. If caught, people trying to launch their boat outside of those hours will be fined.
Why, anglers asked in e-mails, can’t they launch their boat whenever it’s convenient for them?
“I enjoy fishing the chain of lakes and a few times each summer I will work only a half-day in the morning, allowing me to spend the afternoon on a lake during the weekday,” wrote Andrew Doonan of St. Louis Park. “As currently set forth, an individual cannot launch their boat at 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday.”
Doonan concluded: “Until this is reversed, I will refuse to support any Park Board program and as an avid golfer, Minneapolis golf courses will not be considered.”
Pilger said the Park Board has to be responsible with its resources, so it can’t staff the launches all day.
“Is it responsible for us to be out there 18 hours a day when there’s not much boat traffic in the middle of the day or real late in the evening?” she said. “We’re trying to be responsible about how we use our resources, but still let people get access.”
Another gripe anglers raised is why people can launch canoes and kayaks from any spot along the shore when motorboats and sailboats are going to be subject to inspections.
“Denying access to the lakes users on a discriminatory basis in not an intelligent approach if you truly strive to reduce exposure to AIS,” wrote Jeremy Freborg.
Pilger said aquatic invasive species survive in the water at the bottom of boats, and it’s less likely that a canoe or kayak will still have water inside when it’s launches. Further, she said, canoes and kayaks aren’t transported to as many lakes as motorboats.
“It can happen with canoes and kayaks, buy it’s much less likely,” she said.
Not all of the e-mails were critical of the new restrictions.
“This is an aggressive and decisive action that is necessary to keep Lake Calhoun free from zebra mussels and other invasive species,” wrote Sarah Sponheim, who lives just east of Lake Calhoun.