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Temporary no-wake zones set: 19 Douglas County lakes affected

Lake Carlos is one of 19 lakes affected by a temporary no-wake restriction. (File photo by Lowell Anderson)

Attention watercraft users on Douglas County lakes: A 300-foot no-wake zone has been put in place on 19 area lakes.

The temporary restriction will be in place through July 15.

At Tuesday’s Douglas County Board meeting, the commissioners enacted the temporary special control at the request of Dave Rush, the county’s Land and Resource Management director, because of high water levels.

The no-wake zone means that all watercraft operating within 300 feet of the shoreline should not exceed a speed that produces a wake or wave behind the craft, which is approximately 5 miles per hour.

The following lakes are included in this mandatory no-wake restriction: Brophy, Burgen, Carlos, Chippewa, Cowdry, Darling, Devils, Geneva, Ida, Latoka, L’Homme Dieu, Little Chippewa, Lobster, Louise, Maple, Miltona, Rachel, Vermont and Victoria.

Rush said his office has spent the past couple of weeks gathering data on water levels around the county. Lakes are between three-tenths of a foot to more than a foot higher than the ordinary high-water mark, he said, with Maple Lake near Forada, for example, at the high end of that spectrum.

The ordinary high water mark is set on bodies of water by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The elevation line is based on historical data, including shoreline, trees and ice markings on trees, according to information provided by Rush the last time the county enacted temporary no-wake zones. In the past 10 years, the county has placed this type of restriction three times – in 2011, 2014 and 2017.

The DNR sets the high-water mark where the same elevation has been found at many spots around a lake, Rush said. In essence, it is a fairly high point that the water may reach once a year or maybe once every two or three years, he said. On occasion the DNR will re-evaluate the ordinary high water mark and make changes to it.

Douglas County has 122 named lakes and more than 300 bodies of water. With such a wet spring, Rush said, it is not unusual to put temporary restrictions in place.

“Lake levels are extraordinarily high right now,” he said. “That high water level is already doing substantial damage to shorelines and fast-moving watercraft will exacerbate the problem. The no-wake restrictions will limit environmental damage and shoreline erosion.”

Under state rules, the DNR allows counties to enact temporary controls on lakes. DNR conservation officers, along with the Douglas County Sheriff’s water patrol, will enforce the no-wake restrictions. Violations are a petty misdemeanor.

Signs informing the public of the no-wake restrictions will be posted at all public access points of the affected lakes and channels between the lakes.

“We appreciate watercraft operators understanding how important these restrictions are,” Rush said. “We also encourage boaters on all lakes in Douglas County to slow down and use caution when operating near the shorelines while water remains high.”

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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