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Courtesy is required on Green Lake, not another ordinance

SPICER -- An education about being respectful -- and not a new ordinance -- will be pursued next year in an attempt to curb what some perceive as rude behavior on Green Lake.

"When we say educating, we mean everybody. Lakeshore owners and lake users both," said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Dennis Peterson. "The education isn't only for the users, it's also for some of the owners."

There will be no efforts made at this time to pursue establishment of a 300-foot "no wake zone" around the lake, which had been requested by a handful of lakeshore owners.

A committee made up of lakeshore owners and lake users agreed this week that a restrictive zone around the lake will not be pursued. "At least not at this time," Peterson said.

During a Kandiyohi County Board meeting this summer, several Green Lake property owners related stories of large numbers of boats and rafts clustering in one or two shallow areas on the lake. They complained of loud music, drinking, littering and urinating taking place by their property, and name-calling when lakeshore owners asked people to move on. Several suggested creating a no wake zone.

On the other side, there are stories about lakeshore owners ordering quiet, responsible boaters and anglers to leave an area of water where they had every right to be.

Those types of concerns were discussed during two recent committee meetings organized by the County Board of Commissioners.

"We've all gained better understanding about the concerns of Green Lake," said committee member Tiffany Wachtler, of Spicer, whose young family is a frequent recreational user of the lake.

The committee included five lakeshore owners, five lake users, two people from the St. Paul office of the state Department of Natural Resources, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog, the local DNR hydrologist, the local DNR conservation officer, County Administrator Larry Kleindl, Peterson and Commissioner Dean Shuck.

"It was a pretty good representation of people," said Peterson. "We had two very good committee meetings."

The primary action to be taken will be a publicity campaign next spring before the boating season starts to educate people about what they can do and what they shouldn't do.

A majority of people on the lake are respectful and decent, Peterson said. There are just a "few trouble makers" who are responsible for "some of the obnoxious things that go on out there."

The goal is to "teach a little respect so we don't need an ordinance," Peterson said.

The group agreed that renewed efforts will be made to enforce existing littering and drinking laws. Because tight budgets would make it difficult for the county to enforce additional rules, a new ordinance won't be created now, said Peterson, adding that the county could be "forced" to adopt a restrictive ordinance if behavior doesn't change.

Another option is to encourage boaters to spread out over the lake. Peterson said there are other shallow areas on Green Lake, including one near the middle of the lake, that are farther away from people's homes.

That could reduce the number of boats concentrated in the most popular spots by Lone Tree and Emerald Bay. Peterson said those alternative shallow areas may even be marked to let people know where they are.

Wachtler is optimistic the plans will work.

"Everybody loves the lake and everybody enjoys the lake," she said, adding that continued communication between lakeshore owners and lake users will be needed to prevent "extreme" measures to be taken, including new rules.

President of the Green Lake Property Owners, Kelly Terwisscha, who was also a member of the committee, was out of town and couldn't be reached for comment.


Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750