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Boaters encouraged to congregate elsewhere on Green Lake

This north shore section of Green Lake, known as Lone Tree, is one of the most popular places for boats to congregate on the lake, which causes problems for homeowners who live in that area. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

SPICER -- Boaters who like to congregate in large numbers at sandy, shallow spots on Green Lake are being asked to spread out this year.

A committee made up of lake residents and lake users has even come up with some alternative sites, including one near the outlet of Green Lake that will be marked with buoys where boaters are invited and encouraged to congregate.

New signs to be posted at all the public accesses on Green Lake will remind boaters where the public restrooms are located, which is in response to complaints of people urinating in the lake.

The signs also give a warning that the county's noise ordinance will be enforced this summer by county sheriff's deputies.

The actions are in response to growing frustration by property owners who said they've had anywhere from 50 to more than 300 boats anchored in front of their homes many summer days, especially on the Fourth of July.

The issue drew to a head last year when property owners who live near the most popular clustering sites - including spots like Lone Tree or Emerald Bay -- complained to the Kandiyohi County Commissioners about loud music, profanity, littering and public urinating in the lake by people in the boats. They said some refused to move their boats so the homeowners could get their own watercraft away from the dock and into the lake.

At one county board meeting the group requested that a 300-foot-no-wake zone, marked by lighted buoys, be enforced around Green Lake.

That request didn't get far with the county commissioners. Commissioner Dennis Peterson said even most property owners who called him didn't like that idea.

But the Commissioners agreed there was a problem and established a committee made up of lake residents and people who use the lake but don't live on it, to come up with recommendations for action. The county sheriff, administrator, two commissioners and representatives from the Department of Natural Resources also attended the meetings.

The discussion between the two groups was enlightening and helped everyone understand the different perspectives, said Peterson.

They agreed on a compromise solution, including informing people about other places to congregate that's away from people's homes, that they hope will make boating on Green Lake better for everyone.

"I hope it helps," said committee member Rolf Standfuss, of Willmar, who's been taking his pontoon to Green Lake for 13 years and is a fan of the Lone Tree spot. He said he'll give the outlet location a try this year but won't give up entirely on Lone Tree, where he says many families with young children have fun playing without causing a "ruckus."

"We can't tell people not to go to Lone Tree," said Peterson. But he doesn't think people are aware that the outlet to the lake is also shallow and would be an attractive place for boats to anchor for the day for swimming and water play.

The committee has also identified the area near County Park 5 as a place to congregate. Boats are also welcome to congregate near Saulsbury Beach, said Peterson, but water in that area is deep.

Kelly TerWisscha, chairman of the Green Lake Property Owners and a member of the committee, said the group didn't want to add new regulations that would be difficult to enforce. He said there needs to be some "self-policing" on the water to either stop or report individuals who are being excessively loud, rude or are breaking laws like littering or drinking and driving.

Above all, said Peterson, there needs to be common respect.

"Lake users should ask themselves, 'would I like this right in front of my house,' and lake property owners have to also remember they do not own the water in front of their house," said Peterson in a prepared statement.

"Every year there are more boats and pontoons on the lake, and every year the problems get worse," he said. "With very little effort on all sides this problem can get better."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750