Thursday, December 27, 2012


WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett - a column for January 2, 2013 Aitkin Independent Age APPLICABLE REGULATIONS I’ve noticed a tendency on the part of a few recreational visitors as they approach vacant county land to conclude that “Nobody lives up here, so....” Sometimes seasonal residents who pay taxes, but have no say as to how these tax levies are set, complain in Early American fashion about “Taxation without representation!” When there are important environmental rules governing the use of the land and waters up here, it’s not easy or simple to make sure that knowledge of the law is well understood. So it was in the torrential rains of June 2012, when the County enacted temporary boating restrictions requiring “slow-no wake speeds” on all county lakes. Through the efforts of the news media, lake associations, and lake neighbors, the news of these emergency measures was communicated, and the word eventually got out pretty well. One of the purposes of ACLARA, the Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association, is to “support compliance with all applicable rules and regulations” on county waters. We are continuing to review the experience of last summer, and will report results of a survey of our membership to the County Board this winter. WHAT ABOUT SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL? At the present time there is an “open case” from Aitkin County, pending before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where industrial waste from outside Aitkin County was hauled onto a field within the shoreland zone of one of our Recreational Development (RD) lakes. The zoning office was notified, and the site was inspected. The MPCA personnel involved have promised that just as soon as the case is closed, the details of the case will be shared. You should be able to read a summary of this story in my column in the Age on February 6th. Meanwhile, it’s important to stress that, without enforcement, rules and regulations concerning the environment mean very little.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


from WATERWORKS, a outdoor column by Gordon Prickett for the 12/5/2012 Aitkin Independent Age TIS THE SEASON It’s the season to be “careful.” We are currently “making ice” on our lakes, ponds, and rivers. The lake we live on had a thin layer of ice weeks ago, only to break up with wind and warming temperatures. At this writing ice is on the lake again since five days ago. Another warmup is on the way. On a shallow bay the first ice fisherman has ventured out with his auger and bucket to catch the early crappies. The main lake has a couple of cracks reaching all across the surface and looks fragile. The only way I can measure the ice thickness is to walk out on it with a chisel and make a hole. At this time of year we read the news accounts of the first trucks sinking through thin ice. I have memories as a young camper walking across the St. Croix River on ice floes. Now I’m trying to convince people that despite the information about safety on ice - so many inches to walk on it, to drive an ATV or a pickup - there is no such thing as “absolutely safe ice.” A FIELD GUIDE FOR FISH On an early shopping trip for the holidays I came across a great gift idea for family members who come from afar in the summertime, and who love to fish. But first I had to dip into this handy little guide - for the tackle box and for the cabin - recently written by a staff biologist from the University of Minnesota. It has waterproof pages, and the author is Dave Bosanko. I discovered that I had a lot to learn about the 75 species of fish in this field guide, “Fish of Minnesota.” The photographs and descriptions help to clearly identify each species, and the state record fish are listed. The largest Walleye at 17 lbs., 8 oz., was caught in 1979 in the Seagull River. The largest Smallmouth Bass, 8 lbs., was caught in West Battle Lake in 1948. Our family vacationed on West Battle in the 1940s, but our best bass were just a fraction of that size. From minnows to muskies, this is a good read.