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Residents move to close lake accesses to stop infestation

The boat landing on Saulsbury Beach on Green Lake in Spicer is one of the most heavily used public accesses in Kandiyohi County with boats coming and going all day. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

SPICER -- After enduring a week long state government shutdown, citizens are taking matters into their own hands to protect area lakes.

According to the Department of Natural Resource website, about 2,000 employees were laid off last week leaving about 220 employed. The layoffs have prompted some Minnesota lake associations to urge legislators to treat public lakes like public parks allowing no access.

WDAY News in Detroit Lakes reported Friday that three Minnesota lakes groups, including one in Becker County, are pushing legislators to close public access to the 360 infested lakes during the shutdown.

Terry Frazee, executive secretary of the Green Lake Property Owners Association, said he has sent letters to Gov. Mark Dayton and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr asking them to close the lake accesses.

Frazee said contamination is the biggest concern for the property owners association as Green Lake currently has Eurasian Water Milfoil infesting its water. He said the property owners just want to make sure boats are cleaned off.

"We know it's not our lake," Frazee said. "We want people to come in and enjoy it but we are trying to protect all of the lakes in the county."

With a lack of presence by the DNR, Diamond Lake residents have started voluntarily patrolling accesses during holidays and other events, according to Jim Teschendorf, vice-president of the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association.

And as of Friday afternoon, Teschendorf said the association directors were slated to hold their monthly meeting this morning and he had not seen or heard any possible discussion of the issue.

He said the board is comprised of representatives of property owners from around the lake and, "if there was a large group that wanted to step forward then the board would pursue it," he said.

But the idea doesn't sit well with other area lake associations.

Joel Peterson, President of the Nest Lake Improve Association, said the lake has been infested with Curly-leaf pondweed for more than 10 years, but the lake association would not close the accesses.

"The reality is people come in and out of the lake many times through the course of the day without being inspected by an officer," Peterson said. "I wish state would resolve things but we aren't going to have accesses closed."

Peterson said even with an increase in traffic on the lake over the years, if they did push to close the access it would undermine a lot of things the lake association has been achieving.

"People live on the lake, we don't own the lake," he said. "We are concerned about the spread of invasive species, dealing with one of our own. So we are concerned about the lack of inspections, but that is not our intent."

Marv Calvin, Kandiyohi County Lakes Association president, said the association has not had a board meeting to discuss the issue but he would never support closing boat landings.

"This issue has come up before and I continue to oppose it," Calvin said. "There are other ways contamination occurs other than boats, we need to me mindful of it but we can't go to the degree of closing the landings."

Calvin said he has received e-mails regarding the issue of closing the lake accesses but boils the problem down to personal responsibility by the boat owners rather then relying on the DNR.

"Coming from a known contaminated lake be courteous, of other citizens and decontaminate boat prior to reentering a lake in the county," he said.

According to WDAY, Gov. Mark Dayton has received various letters urging the closure of the boat landings in infested waters.

"They can't make the budget so I don't think this will be on their priority list," Peterson said.