Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WATERWORKS August 4, 2010


It’s been a good Summer - so far - on our lake. I encountered my first jet ski on the water July 25th. It had an adult on board with a clinging small child, traveling at usual speeds, well away from the shore. But numerous kayaks and canoes, and a catamaran, can be seen on weekends. Our nesting loons have produced two surviving juveniles that are two months old. And the water clarity was pretty good for July. We don’t discuss the fishing.


The eroding public access at this lake has been called to the attention of the DNR. A proposal is in the works by the Water Planning Task Force to divert and retain the excessive runoff. A site visit in July also showed the harmful effects of “power launching” by very large outboard and inboard motors.

This lake is only about 400 acres in area, two-thirds of a square mile, less than a mile across. Why bring a big rig with 125 to 200 horsepower here, when there are much larger lakes 15 minutes away?

In power launching, the operator guns his motor to lift the boat off of the heavy trailer. When he does this, it churns up the eroded sediment and worsens the turbidity problem in the bay by our public access. Take a look where you launch your boat. And let us know if the lake access where you launch needs attention by the DNR and County Soil and Water.


I’m heading to Cass County’s Deep Portage Learning Center on August 7th to learn about shoreland buffers and native and invasive plants. The DNR will also be there to give us an update on their lengthy process to write new shoreland and dock regulations for statewide adoption by every county. The newly-drafted rules were approved by the DNR Commissioner, but await action by Governor Pawlenty. Then more public hearings must be held, and an administrative judge has final say on any revisions. The final rules are not expected to change very much in our county. Aitkin County acted in October 2008 to adopt Alternative Shoreland Standards developed by the Clean Water Pilot Project in North Central Minnesota. These standards improve protection against over development of lakeshore and encourage the use of conservation subdivisions for lakefront construction.

One simple way to grow a buffer strip along the shores of rivers and lakes is to measure a zone 10 to 20 feet from the water and stop mowing there! After a few weeks native plants and other vegetation will out-perform the shallow-rooted lawn grasses, and, after a season, an effective buffer will be in place to filter the rainfall draining into the water. We have been pleasantly surprised by the blossoms and the variety of plants found in this “no-mow zone” on our shoreline.