To the editor:
I grew up on Lake L'Homme Dieu. I hoped to preserve that lake experience for future generations. After years working to protect our lakes as county water planner, I could claim you owe me thanks for my legacy of protected lakes. But that isn't true. Instead, we pushed L'Homme Dieu past 60 percent watershed disturbance (developed plus agriculture) into DNR's red level where restoration "will be very expensive, and it is probably not realistic."
I tell my boys, 7 and 9, that L'Homme Dieu used to be clear, sandy, with some weeds and no slime like the lake by Park Rapids where our cabin is. They cannot imagine that. Our lake by Park Rapids is in DNR's green protected level, less than 25 disturbance. That community's leaders say additional development threatens their lakes. They applied for Clean Water Legacy funding to educate the community on those threats and identify, design, and install 36 runoff reduction projects.
Our community has pushed many of our lakes (Mary, Victoria, Geneva, L'Homme Dieu) right past the 60 percent red line and our leaders insist our lakes will remain clean. We haven't followed through on the commitments we made in the County Comprehensive Plan and we don't apply for Legacy funding like other communities. Our leaders cannot imagine their legacy could be one of declining lakes.
I could insist that pushing lakes identified as at "highest" risk past the 60 percent red line is lake protection. But that would not make me a lake protector.