Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SPEED LIMITS on Minnesota Lakes


Memorial Day Weekend is the opening of the "Come up to our lake" Season. Retired cabin people get back from Arizona and Florida in time to put the dock in the water. Year-round folks and Twin Citians are all set for the arriving relatives. Everyone is ready to fish, ride the pontoon, and watch the campfire.

During the memorable weekend I was out in the canoe for some perfect paddling on calm water. Near the public access a watchful loon kept boaters at a distance from the family nest. The major boat traffic was fishing parties and touring pontoons. Suddenly from nowhere a motorboat came alongside my canoe at high speed, only to cut the throttle and coast up to a nearby dock.


This fast boat was powered by a 150 hp outboard motor and rigged for fishing. It reminded me that there are no speed limits generally on Minnesota lakes, unless local ordinances are adopted. We don't see too many large motors on our lake, which is less than a mile across in any direction. But on holiday weekends, when visitors come towing their boats, we are seeing larger and faster watercraft every year.

In AItkin County we have just completed work on the Governor's Clean Water Initiative and adopted new Shoreland Standards for protecting our waters from over development at the water's edge. Out on the lake on a busy Saturday afternoon I saw another need for protection. A regulation that will protect waterfowl, small craft and the shoreline from wave action and collision.


Minnesota law defines three classes of lakes for for local governmental shoreland ordinances. Each class has specific rules for shoreline land use. These classes are based on a lake's environmental condition and historical settlement. They are: General Development (GD), Recreational Development (RD), and Natural Environment (NE).

It is during these crowded boating weekends that I have concluded "There ought to be a law!" A speeding law. Perhaps there are others on our lakes who also wonder if there isn't a slower, safer way to enjoy our beautiful waters.

To start the ball rolling, here is my proposal - a trial balloon for lake associations, the DNR and state government. On Minnesota's protected waters, watercraft shall be limited to the following top speeds: On GD lakes, 50 MPH. For RD lakes, 40 MPH. Finally, on NE lakes 30 MPH.

Let's talk it over.


Not Just Any Sub said...

Your proposal is great as far as it goes. Add to it a no-wake zone around the perimeter of every lake, a stipulation which mysteriously disappeared from Minnesota boating regulations four or five years ago, and I will fully support it.

Gord said...

To the Commenter "...any sub"

Thanks for the info about the no-wake zone. This inclusion of a "no-wake zone" is important near shore and in channels.

For the Jetskis, it was a major change that Rep. Kris Hasskamp authored. A slow speed out to 150 feet from the dock.

- Gord from Nord Lake in Aitkin County