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County board explores private boat storage at public landings

LeoLake051810Mixdown.mp34.29 MB

Should the county allow private businesses to store rental boats on public land? The Leo Lake landing at mid-Gunflint Trail is the case in point. Assessor and Land Commissioner Mary Black posed the question to the county board this week. WTIPs Jay Andersen has this story.
County Assessor and Land Commissioner Mary Black on Tuesday asked county commissioners to give direction on storing rental boats at the Leo Lake public landing. Currently, three resorts store a total of four boats at the small, steep landing. Black said each year, around the opener, a property owner complains about noise and the appropriateness of private businesses storing rental boats at a public access. Black said there is no clear policy, and County Attorney Tim Scannell said since there is no policy it’s not illegal to do so. Luana and Carl Brandt of Nor’wester Lodge and Forrest Parson of Hungry Jack Lodge told commissioners hauling boats in and out daily would not only create more work for them, but also create more noise and degradation of the public access. The Leo Lake landing in scheduled for reconstruction work this coming week through County Soil and Water and the Minnesota Conservation Corps.
While commissioners were concerned private parties might also want to store boats at the landing, Scannell said there was a difference between businesses providing a service and individuals storing for their own use. He suggested the Board could issue permits, limit the number of boats at the landing, and grandfather in the existing resorts. Some have been using the landing to store rental boats for 60 years. Commissioner Jim Johnson confirmed from the resort owners that their rentals were only used on Leo Lake, and then added an environmental concern:
Johnson: Keep in mind in all of this we’re having trouble with invasives, like Spiny Water Flea, I think is really starting to get in there. So, if you can constantly pull boats in and out of a lake, there’s much more chance that those creatures are going to be transferred. Suppose they end up in Clearwater, but they’re not in Leo. Well, if you have people running boats back and forth between those two bodies of water, you’re going to get them in Leo. If you keep the same boats in the same lake, they’re not going to be transferring those organisms. So, there’s another irony that in some ways it’s better to use the same boats.
The Board instructed Black to meet with the resorters and craft a position on permitting to include limits on stored boats as well as suggested fees. She will return to the Board after the landing restoration is complete with a recommendation.
Jay Andersen, WTIP News.