Wednesday, September 5, 2012
From the WATERWORKS Outdoors Column 9/5/2012 in The Aitkin Independent Age by Gordon Prickett In the recent excitement about boating on our flooded lakes I learned something new about fast boats. They can take on gallons of ballast water in order to make the largest possible waves for the wake boarder being towed behind. Many decades ago I learned to ride surf boards and water skis. Being pulled with two other friends, on water skis and a flying disc, we thought we were pretty hot stuff. The boat towing us was skimming across the water at top speed without much of a wake. Next for us came the slalom ski, a wide ski with tandem foot positions. Fifteen or twenty years ago, when my water ski days had ended, wake boarding began on some of the local lakes. I noticed that beginners took a lot of spills, as they learned to jump wakes and practice flips. A few neighbors became expert in this new sport. As wake boarding has mostly replaced water skis, the boats have gotten bigger and more powerful. These days I happen to paddle a canoe much of the time or slowly troll in a fishing boat. I can handle the rough water from strong steady winds, and I head for shore in a storm. But the intermittent tall waves from a wake boarding crew are another matter. Especially when that wake builds up near shore. Jetskis are required to proceed out 150 feet at no-wake speed before they are allowed to open up. During the recent flood emergency in Aitkin County, there was a 300-foot distance from shore on certain critical lakes where no-wake speeds were mandated. There might be an acreage size of a lake (small and narrow lakes) at which wake boarding and other surface use are just not compatible. MAKING YOUR VOICE HEARD One of the purposes of the Aitkin County Rivers And Lakes Association (ACLARA), a coalition of twenty individual lake associations, is “To serve as a voice of the membership to governmental bodies and agencies.” In June we were asked by the Sheriff and the County Administrator for contact names at each of the lakes, as the County was assessing the risks of high water and was holding emergency board meetings to consider regulating boat traffic. At the ACLARA meeting August 11th both Scott Turner and Patrick Wussow reported on their efforts in the past three months, as the County was faced with unprecedented flood waters and runoff. In a discussion of the reaction by lakeshore property owners to the changing “Slow-no wake” speed restrictions, the speakers asked lake associations for their suggestions about future policy for the flood next time. If readers from lakes without lake associations are interested, another one of ACLARA’s purposes is “To help form new lake associations in the County.” It is a good way to make your voices heard.