By Bill Hudson

PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — One look at the wind swept Medicine Lake and you can see what Joe Harty is talking about.

“This is a rare occurrence. The last time it happened I think was five years ago,” he said.

Harty is talking about the recently imposed no-wake restriction for watercraft on this popular metro area lake. He said he wants nothing more than a nice spell of dry weather.

Harty’s Boat and Bait service got off to a terrible spring, with the lack of a fishing opener due to ice and a rainy and cold Memorial Day weekend. So far, summer hasn’t been much better.

Heavy rains have led to high lake levels.

“The rain’s come quickly, and the winds,” he said. “The lake has come up a foot-and-a-half. I get everything set and then, I have to go out and raise everything.”

Harty’s docks are barely out of the water and he’s not inclined to raise them any higher.

To protect fragile shorelines from wave erosion, the lake is under no-wake restrictions. But it’s not the only lake or river with rising levels. From Taylor’s Falls to Prescott, Wisconsin, boaters on the St. Croix River are under the same orders.

“It’s not like other rivers where you have nice sloping banks, that absorb the water,” said the Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer Capt. Greg Salo. “This is straight up and down bluffs and cliffs and the wave action just erodes at that.”

Salo said the river is littered with floating logs, trees and other debris.

Dean Durand was out for a pontoon ride on Thursday afternoon and said nighttime boating would be downright dangerous.

“There are lots of deadheads, huge trees and deadheads,” he said. “They’re just below the surface so you don’t see them until you’re right on top of them.”

Boats on the Mississippi River are no better off. All lock operations in the Twin Cities area have been suspended, until water levels drop.

With a bit of luck and a lack of heavy rains, the restrictions could be lifted by the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.


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