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Battle Over Lake Access Rising To A Boil

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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LAKE MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — The fight over the future of lake access in the Twin Cities got heated tonight.

That’s because a proposal could drastically change how boaters get on lakes throughout the Twin Cities.

Everyone wants to stop the spread of invasive species such as milfoil and zebra mussels, but they don’t agree on how. Boat owners are used to taking the time to inspect for invasive species.

“I guess I haven’t been on infested lakes,” said scuba diver Anthony Wendling. “But I found the inspection, looking for zebra mussels, not taking very long.”

But the group Minnehaha Creek Watershed Association says it’s not enough, so they’re pushing a plan to install electronic gates at 26 area landings.

“We’re convinced this is the only proven approach to preserve waters for future generations,” said Joe Schneider of the Minnehaha Creek Waters Association.

If your boat passes inspection at one of four stations, you’re given a code to access the lake.

A standing room only crowd of lake users turned out Thursday night to voice firm support and fierce opposition.

“From a legal standpoint, can the city give us your state and federal money to develop this access, but now put a gate up to keep you out?” said Lake Minnetonka angler David Sdano.

Some felt the new plan was worked out in private, surprising the local Aquatic Invasive Species committee.

“Do you think we have any chance in hell to get the DNR to approve this plan after what you guys have done?” asked Gabe Jabbour of Tonka Bay Marina.

And one angler called it an affront to efforts already being made.

“I have a problem with the assumption that I don’t know what I’m doing, and then essentially have to come and ask you for permission to fish the lake,” said Lake Minnetonka angler Jay Green.

This is just the start of the process. The Watershed District board hopes to assemble a strategy plan by the end of the year.

It’s possible if they choose this route, it could be in place by next boating season.

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