Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DNR Meeting Next Week


As a result of my meeting with the governor's office last week, a meeting has been arranged for Tuesday, February 19, with Larry Kramka, DNR assistant commissioner. Mr. Kramka is willing to discuss the issues of concern to P.O.P.U.L.A.R. with an eye towards avoiding unnecessary confrontation. While he has not made any commitments with respect to modifying the 2008 General Permit, our frank discussions resulted in an understanding that there was reason to meet.

One of the issues that continues to arise among proponents of greater restrictions on dock platform size is the actual scope of the problem. Both Senator Mary Olson and the DNR have opined that (only) roughly 10% of the properties on the lakes are not in compliance with platform regulations. On the other hand, we have been asserting that on many developed lakes, e.g., Gull Lake, 65-80% of the platforms are not in compliance with existing DNR regulations.

I believe the dichotomy results from discussing apples and oranges. When Senator Olson and the DNR refer to 10% non-compliance, I believe they are measuring the number of non-conforming platforms as a function of overall lakeshore property ownership. When we discuss 65-80%, a number reached by several dock installers and members of the 2007 DNR Dock Advisory Committee who did an informal survey from the lake, we are measuring the number of non-conforming platforms as a function of the total number of platforms. In other words, if you include properties that do not use platforms in the equation, you arrive at the lower number.

I made the point to Assistant Commissioner Kramka that if the DNR numbers were right, and that in the overall scheme of lake management there were not a horrendous number of non-conforming platforms, then that would allow grandfathering in non-conforming platforms (up to a point) without significant detriment to the aquatic environments. Moreover, even if the 10% figure touted by the DNR is accurate, 10% of an estimated 250,000 lakeshore owners still represents a significant number of "hooligans" and justifies addressing the issue now to avoid wasting DNR and judicial system resources on enforcement of a senseless regulation.

Senseless? I believe it makes no sense to impose the restrictions contained in the 2008 General Permit when:
a.) the parties agree that there was no relevant scientific study identifying the need;
b.) many parties, including Senator Mary Olson, believe there was insufficient public input prior to the issuance of the permit;
c.) since the concern is the "cumulative effect" of an increase in the number of over the water structures, but admittedly no demonstrable harm from the status quo, leniency towards pre-2008 platform owners is warranted;
d.) the 2002 regulations that established the 8 foot maximum dimension that platform opponents point to when dismissing requests for such leniency were neither publicized nor enforced as consumers proceeded to install "non-conforming" dock platforms;
e.) many of the dock platforms that are now jeopardized by the 2008 General Permit were in existence prior to 2002 when the regulations did not address their size or installation;
f.) Governor Pawlenty (pictured above addressing supporters at a Gull Lake home in August, 2005) repeatedly assured constituents concerned about dock regulations that there was nothing to worry about and that there would not be any changes to lakeshore owners' use and enjoyment of their property
vis a vis the dock platform issue in a Pawlenty administration;
g.) concerns about lakeshore owners "intrusion" on public waters are misguided insofar as the platforms are located over waters not generally utilized by the public;
h.) assuming that one governmental entity or another, likely eager to trade virgin shoreline under their jurisdiction for an increase in property tax revenue, allowed lakeshore development in the first place, we believe that the installation of docks and platforms to replace natural shade and habitat, actually enhances the fish population; and
i.) finally, for now, it makes no sense to divert DNR resources from more important endeavors, like implementing stringent measures to prevent and/or control invasive species on our lake environments, in order to pick a fight over an issue that the DNR has felt no need to regulate in the past.

If you've read this far, thank you for your indulgence. I will repay you with homework. I invited Assistant Commissioner Kramka to subscribe to this blog in order to better understand our concerns and, frankly, call me out on any inaccuracies. Civility and accuracy are of the utmost importance in this fight.

Here's your homework: Click on the "post a comment" button at the bottom of this blog entry. Write a comment. You don't need to identify yourself to the point of self-incrimination. But I would like you to indicate what lake you're on, whether you have a dock platform larger than 120 square feet (excluding the last dock extension) and why you feel a larger platform is necessary. If you want, comment on how long you've had the now "non-conforming" configuration. (The first comment is mine, instructing you how to post your comment AFTER you've clicked on the "post a comment" link.)

I'm going out on a limb as it's not clear how many of the hundreds of P.O.P.U.L.A.R. members will read this entry to the end or bother to comment. On the other hand, it will be immensely helpful and demonstrative if I walk into Tuesday's meeting with Assistant Commissioner Kramka with many, many comments and a smile on my face. There's only two rules: keep it civil and keep it accurate. Thanks in advance.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

In order to comment, just type here. If you don't have a google mail account to put in the "Choose an identity" box below, just click on "Anonymous". Be sure to type in the letter in the "word verification" box. It prevents spammers from sending messages through comments.
-Sam Stern

Anonymous said...

About ten years ago, I purchased three additional 5'x10' sections to attach to the new 5'x50' seasonal dock as it was displayed at the local retailers. At the time, I was told the dock sections could go as wide as 8', but not that platforms were not allowed. For the identical square footage (8'x50' versus 8-5'x10' sections), it is difficult to understand why there is such a problem with a configuration.
The first blanket permit was interpreted to allow this structure on a mid-sized lake, but now it is thrown back into non-compliance. If owners are forced to take their sectionals and make longer docks of them, the regulations could be more of an obstruction.
Will common sense prevail?

Anonymous said...

Sam,
My company manages and maintains vacation properties in northern Crow Wing county. At this time we work with approximately 50 properties located primarily on the Whitefish chain and Pelican Lake. Of that number, 3/4s will not comply with the DNR regulation regarding platform size.

Many of these properties are located on shorelines with steep elevations such as the North Shore of Trout Lake. Without the ablility to utilize some sort of platform in conjunction with their dock system the usefulness of the waterfront is severly limited as is the value of the property.

Without exception the clients I have spoken with about this issue are angry and frustrated about the proposed enforcement of this regulation. They seem to feel that something they have, and in most cases paid dearly for, is being taken away arbitrarily and without due process.

Secondarily, this action will have a considerable effect on my company and my vendors. We staff to meet the needs of the properties we serve. This would seem to be a poor time to be creating reasons to let people go.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

My family has a house on the Gull chain. we have hade a dock with the same configuration since I can remember and it is now non-compliant. I personally have put the dock in and taken it out for the last 25 years, I am now 35.

My problem with these rules are that before 2002 there were no rules for temporary structures they were "loosely interpreted on the permanent structure rules" these are the words from Tom Hovey of the DNR. How can you loosely interpret a rule that does not exist.

To keep this short I have been on top of this issue for the past four years and talk to people about it every day, I am in the dock business. The general consensus is that lakeshore owners do not need more rules pertainig to docks. Most feel the DNR's time would be better utilized fighting invasive species, over fishing and wreckless boating.

Anonymous said...

We installed a new dock with platform a few years ago on the Whitefish chain. I have a hard time believing that dock structures or platforms harm the fish or vegetation in the lake. Everyday boats are coming by to fish around the docks and lifts we have in the water...why? because thats were the best fishing is.

springboard said...

I am on the Island Lake on the Whitefish chain and I have a platform that is 12'x20', so I am not in compliance with the new ordinance. I am on a steep hill and that is my only place to sit and to move around at the shoreline. I have six children and can really use the space to accomodate our needs.

Clark said...

I live on Gull Lake. I have a steep embankment to the waters edge, which means our dock is our entertainment area. In 2001 we purchased a new dock at upwards of $10,000. We justified this expense because if we are going to live on the lake and pay the lakeshore taxes, we should have a space we can enjoy the lake. We have a nice table, chairs, lounge chairs and plants and flowers. Friends join us to enjoy the sun, the lake, watch the boats and a few drinks.

Now we are told we can't use the dock we purchased before the new law? Why don't we tell people with older cars or collector cars they cannot start them or drive them because they don't meet the current EPA. Or home owners of older homes they can no longer live in their homes because they don't meet the new building standards. This is ridiculous and we will talk with our vote and encourage friends and neighbors to do the same.

And infringe on others rights to use the lake???? Are you kidding me? This is the area my kids swim. If boats are that close, they need to have action taken against them anyway for being to close to a swim area. And if a platform is 18' wide how does that impede anymore than one that is 8' wide. What are boats zig zagging in and out between dock?

You hear of these ridiculous laws on the books, like "You cannot cross from Minnesota to Wisconsin with a duck on your head". These come from legislators with to much time on their hands or the need to control every movement of other people. Let's address real problems !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The concerns about lakeshore owners "intrusion on public waters" is absurd. The only people that come between the end of our dock and the shoreline are the DNR when they set up a net to count fish, and they seem to have plenty of room. I have spent time at the end of our dock in the summer for 50 years and feel that the DNR is taking away my rights as a lakeshore taxpayer. If we want to protect the non-taxpayers rights, then our taxes should be decreased and visitors should pay increased user fees,,,,after all, it appears that we want to be equal. Fish houses should pay a higher tax also. Why should they be allowed to privatize an area of "hard water" for months at a time. Since I am sure that taxes will not be equally distributed to all lake users, please try to be realistic in this matter. Why the DNR is wasting so much time to "prove a point" is ridiculous. Our family has enjoyed Gull Lake for many years and we take great pride in our waters. It seems to me that "non-lake" visitors should be more of a concern. Policing the public landings is much more important than limiting family space. We have 150' at the end of our dock which is necessary when our family is there. We have children and older people who love to be on the water. The future of Gull Lake is at risk as a family lake. We would have bought farther north if we wanted a pure fishing lake. When the 120' figure was agreed upon, why did they not consider that many new dock sections are 5' sections, which would make 150' the logical starting point. At 120', everyone that I know is out of compliance. I hope that we can put a stop to this waste of money that could jeopardize our "life at the lake". Big Brother DNR is out of control.

Anonymous said...

Our family has been on Whitefish Lake in Crosslake since the 1930's. I agree with the blog, it is very important to distinguish between general and recreational development classification lakes versus natural environment classification lakes when discussing this issue,and certainly when discussing the percentages of non-compliance. I think all parties involved would agree that for the most part these types of lakes are used differently. Our family currently has property (and docks) on both classifications of lakes and I have seen this varied lake usage first hand. At our family's property on Whitefish (a general development lake), we would have been out of compliance on this issue 60 years ago given the current regualations. I feel it is the increased useage our lakes are experiencing that are resulting in these changes, not docks. I feel that if you want to change something, it would be more prudent to be discussing zoning ordinances, not docks. It's like blaming pollution on limosines because they seat more people and take up more space, no, it's the increased number of cars on the road today. I would argue virtually every lakehome and cabin owner wants what is best for the lakes, including myself, and I think it is invalid to blame docks for the way our lakes are changing. I agree a few (very few) docks I have seen are excessive, but I think the proposed calculations are too restrictive as they affect most homeowners on a "recreational" type lake.

Anonymous said...

I live on the Gull Chain year-round. My cousins have the property next door, so we share one big dock system. The dock is at the far edge of the two lots, because one lot has bulrushes

If we can't have one NICE platform, we could move the dock and boat lifts over by the common property line, then put an additional 250-foot dock with another platform through the bulrushes. The two platforms would be close enough to allow our families to be together, but would put the boat lifts into the bulrushes.

I don't see how the DNR can enforce this fairly. Selective enforcement cannot be allowed, and full enforcement is completely impossible. I haven't heard what the fine/penalty/process will be, but I'll bet the yellow pages will now have a "Dock Law" heading under the "Attorneys" section.

Anonymous said...

We have had a 8 x 12 foot dock section on Roosevelt Lake for the past thirteen years. The dock is where we go enjoy the lake as our shoreline has been restored to native vegetation. The restoration has not only saved the shorline, but has also encouraged wildlife to nest and feed. We would be extremely hesitant to mow additional area for our lounge chairs.

Since the fish do congregate under our platform and due to our restoration efforts, we believe strongly that the dock has the least (if any) environmental impact on lake ecology. Let's not instill regulations that potentially do more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

I have a property on Lake Roosevelt in Outing MN. I have nearly 500 feet of shoreline that I believe is a good example of striking a balance of user access and natural shoreline. Most of my frontage is as it was in the 'ice age' with sufficient ice berm and natural vegetation to filter sediments. At most, 50 feet of my property is "improved" with a sand beach and that work was done in the 1960's.

On this property, and in place for 20 years, is a fishing and swimming platform. The platform is slightly larger than the new requirement. It was built that size because it is just the right size to hold the people that want to fish, swim and use the attached water slide. It's a logical size, does not impede boat traffic, seems to attract fish as it is adjacent to a nice crappie spot, is attractive, and is a fixture on the lake. I am a reasonable person and I just don’t see the ‘problem.”

My challenge to the legislators and policy makers:
- Show me evidence that this platform is harming the lake
- Show me evidence that making it a bit smaller will help the lake or at least cease harming the lake if it is.
- Show me objective data that supports the specification of 120 square feet. I would love to see a nifty graph that plots “negative impact on a typical lake” on one axis and “size of platform” on the other.
- Show me what other issues or problems will not be attended to when law enforcement is diverted to address enforcement of this “problem.”
- Show us the cost and effort to enforce or permit this “problem” so that we can prioritize this compared to other needs and sources of funds. I suspect we have other items on our lake quality or safety agenda that are more pressing or likely to produce a positive and measurable result that this.
- Assure me and the Governor that this will not raise taxes or fees.

DNR – do the homework before making policy. Let’s be scientific and reasonable, PLEASE.

Anonymous said...

I have a cabin on the White Fish chain with a dock that is non- complient. I have a constant stream of bass fisherman casting around my dock looking for their catch. Our dock actually helps the aquatic wild life & vegitation. I cannot understand the vocal few who are proposing these absurd restrictions how they get so much power. These proposed changes to the law just don't make any sense. Why do the vocal minority get so much power? Is this our political system at it's best? Let's see if we can be realistic & provide actual improvements to our lakes & streams so we can all enjoy them for many years to come.

John N. Allen said...

Gull Lake, MN

Our family dock has existed in its current state without navigation, water quality or fish habitat issues since 1993. The only regulation on size when we made our dock investment was for permanent docks. Solid DNR thinking, reduce dock and platforms size so our young children and their friends can swim and play around the props and boats that will invariably tie to undersized docks and platforms. To solve what? To satisfy who?

Understandably, we will vigorously defend our right to be grandfathered. What’s next for the DNR and the Governor, size of ice houses? Size of boats? Hours per year a resident can use the lake? Number of swims per year? Rationed boat rides? Satellite surveillance for compliance?

Anonymous said...

My extended family has been on lower Gull for 50+ years. I can speak for 6 different properties and docks, and 4 of 6 properties have docks that are non compliant for one or more reasons, and have been for decades. My own dock platform has been 200 sf ft for the last 10 years, and more often then not is too small when we are enjoying the water with family and friends. The fish love it under my dock. I know this because of the close proximity of the transient competitive fishermen casting under my dock from their boats only inches away from our dock end. Mr. Governor, have you ever tried to caste off or land a sailboat to/from a dock on a large body of water with a fresh wind? Adequate water depth, size of platform, and adequate space for maneuverability are minimal requirements. But hey!, I can imagine the DNR outlawing sailing too someday, as its use of wind no doubt causes global warming.... (sorry, i couldnt resist. :)) )

Anonymous said...

I have a dock on the Gull chain of lakes and its platform is larger than the new rule allows. This seems to be a case of sour grapes to me. people that live on the lakes pay some pretty hefty taxes, and should be able to use the water directly in front of their property. Who is going to drive or park their boat between my platform and shore? Lets be realistic here the portion of the lake we are talking about is to close to shore for pleasure boating, and fisherman can still cast into areas around docks, in fact thats all a lot of fishermen do! So who are we talking about here canoeists? I beleive there is a whole untouched wilderness just north of here reserved just for them. I guess I dont see how the argument for privatization of a public resource works! As far as arguing asthetics please... it is way way to late for that. You could remove all of the docks and boat lifts on the lake and you would still see the houses. I personally feel there are other lake problems the DNR should deal with. If they have the money to waste on debating and enforcing dock platforns they certainly could hire some people to sit at the boat landings and watch for weeds on trailers. This solution would also help out with the boneheads that back into ramp then unload all of their gear from their vehicle to their boat. That was a little off subject but still a bigger problem than dock platforms. Lets do ourselves a favor and speak with our votes, and only elect public officials who will cut the funding for the DNR. apparently they have to much money and time on their hands.

Anonymous said...

We have lived on Gull Lake for 2-1/2 years and our dock platform is larger than 120 sq. ft. I believe the previous owner's was also over 120 sq. ft. The DNR has asked us (through the alternative shoreland standards)to voluntarily have the 20 foot buffer along our shoreline of natural plants which we have) so we cannot really use our shoreline property. We have maintained several beautiful, large white pines and have seedlings growing for future generations. Many people, including us, live on elevations that prevent them from using their shoreline. Now we will not be able to have a dock wide enough to safely place chairs and
enjoy the lake with our family and guests. So we live on the lake but we can't get but will not be able to get near enough to it to enjoy. Our platform is the only way we can enjoy the lake without going out on a boat. We will be very disappointed if we are prevented from utilizing the lake from our home. I am particularly taken aback by the lack of scientific data behind this regulation. Is this how such decisions should be made?

Anonymous said...

I do not live on the lake but have many freinds that do. I think this issue is a waste of everyones time. My children and I go to our freinds houses to play at the lake, and sometimes there are as many as 10 kids swimming around the dock. are we going to punish these kids and make them swim from a single 4' X 10' platform? who are we satisfying with these new rules? I need to know because I am not a lakeshore owner and it is not for my benefit. I am sure it is not for the lakeshore owners benefit. So who? Lets fix the problems we have and try not to create new ones.

Anonymous said...

I live on the WHitefish chain in Crosslake. I attended a DNR hearing on the dock issue held in Nisswa last summer. Maybe some of my thoughts are relevant to your upcoming DNR meeting. At this hearing, it was clear that the DNR people in attendance, have already decided that more restrictive dock regulations are needed. They didn't take any notes or record any of the public's input at this hearing. The presentation that was given, and the posters and other material they brought to the hearing were aimed at pacifying any discontent, and attempting to justify increased regulations. I've attended other DNR hearings on hunting and fishing issues, and this is the normal case-they have already made up their minds, but are having the hearings so it will appear they have formed their opinions after puiblic input. I think you will find that situation in your meeting with them as well.
Most important, I believe, is the
first point in your discussion posted on the web site - THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC OR BIOLOGICAL DATE OR INFORMATION THAT SUGGESTS THAT DOCLS ARE CASUING ANY PROBLEMS!!
I think the best argument, and chance for a reversal is exactly this point. We should publicize and focus on the faqct that this is a purely POLITICAL decision, and NOT for the benefit of fish, wildlife or clean watr. Then ask challenge the DNR to justify why they feel they should make political decisions. Their expertise consists of scientists and biologists and data collection. We do not need or want another body of POLTICIANS making changes. I think that's your best argument with them. They don;t care what Pawlenty promised of didn;t promise. The DNR people will still be DNR people after he's long gone. I think the DNR has just as much resentment for some of the other political decisions made by the state legislature as we do for the dock resytrictions. Remind them of this. If we challenge the legislature to make this decision, as a purely political one, they may likely choose not to rock the boat and revert to the pre-2002 dock language which specified that the size restricitons applied only to permanent docks, not seasonal docks. BTW - you're probably wasting your time trying to convince the DNR. How can we all help with $'s etc., to lobby the state legislature to change things back?

Anonymous said...

As a lakeshore property owner and resident, I enjoy looking out at a natural setting. I try to minimize my impact, so that others, may enjoy a similar view from their homes. For the people that live adjacent to steep slopes and need platforms to watch their kids swim, certainly, that platform does not have to exceed 170 square feet. There are fine lines between riparian property rights and the public trust doctrine. As a riparian property owner, you have the right to have a dock, but that does give you the right to impose on the public trust.

Anonymous said...

We appreciate the efforts of POPULAR to represent the interests of all lakeshore residents and the people of Minnesota. We fully support all efforts to improve the enviroment,safety and preservation of our wonderful lakes. However, the proposed regulations do not address these concerns. The DNR should place greater emphasis upon water safety(including use of personal watercraft and shoreline protection. We do not believe that many lake residents have constructed docks that interfere with lake usage or that create safety or enviromental concerns. In our case, we need a 160sq ft dock to accomatate a cerebal palsy grandchild who needs the additional space to navigate her wheelchair. We hope that the DNR will seek more public imput and at a very minimum grandfather all existing docks with 200 or less square feet. Thank you E

Anonymous said...

I have lived on the WhiteFish Chain since 1979. First I was on Clamshell with a 100' lot and a platform larger that 120 sq'. I later built on Lower Whitefish in 1995 and continued to configure a dock with a platform larger than 120 sq'. We are on 30' of elevation with a steep bank to the water. My family enjoys the lake and the platform has evolved to accomodate the demands of the particuliar uses and orientation to the lakeshore we have. We do have friends and they are able to safely visit and are able to tie up to our platform and unload their families. It accomodates safe access to the boats that are standard for the Chain of lakes. We face NW and when we come home in big winds we are able to safely get our family from the boat to the platform. The waves do get big.
We are good stewards of the lake. There are none are better that the lakeshore owners. We should be alowed to enjoy the lake with our families and have dockage in a safe format.
Why has the DNR made shuch a big deal of this? Do they have so much time and money that they look for issues like this. Think of the taxes dollars paid by lakeshore owners and now the state allowing the DNR do this to us. Leave our docks alone.
Bruce Larson/LWF Lake

Anonymous said...

This is something I do not understand. In 2007 if you lived in Iowa you could have a platform on your dock of 200 square feet. In Minnesota it was 170 square feet. Iowa has about 135 lakes and Minnesota has over 10,000. Does this make any sense? Why does the DNR have public input and then not use is? If the DNR going to police this issue with their limited resources what other (more important) regulations will not get the proper attention ie. fishing license, life jackets, boating saftey, invasive species...

Anonymous said...

We have a cabin on Roosevelt Lake and have a dock platform in excess of 120 square feet. We own nearly 300 feet of lakeshore and less than 50 feet has seasonal structures on it. None of these structures creates a navigation hazard or impacts the fish population. Based on the number of boats that fish near our docks, I'd have to say we probably are helping the fish population with our docks.

Our family and friends use these structures to safely enjoy the lake. Whether its docking a boat to load passengers or helping kids learn how to waterski, wakeboard or get on a innertube having the dock platforms at their current size helps make the activity safer and easier. Enjoyment of the lake is priviledge we pay a hefty fee for every year.

Additionally, why isn't there a formula that addresses square footage to lake footage? One would think that there must be some coorelation between the two. But that would assume someone has applied basic scientific principles to identify the problem and develop/test theory's on how resolve to the problem. It's amazing that with all the real quantifiable issues the DNR currently faces they have decided to make this their "flavor of the month". The DNR's Division of Waters states their mission/purpose as "Helping people ensure the future of our water resources". I have not seen any scientific data, studies or evidence that 1) the current docks on waterways in the state of Minnesota are causing "X" (fill in the metric) amount deterioration to water quality, wildlife habitat, etc. and 2) when the new changes are implimented we will see "Y" (again, fill in the metric) resulting improvement in water quality, wildlife habitat, etc. It appears to be a few individual opinions, not based on facts, measurable goals or measureable outcomes. The DNR has real issues, measurable ones that it should be addressing. Problems like shoreline erosion, impact of drought, invasive species of fish and plant life, boating safety, etc... Yet they are spending (I would argue wasting) time, energy and money on something that has no metric, no targeted outcome, and frankly no support from the majority of people that own and use the waterways.
Furthermore, how can they even think about passing "laws" they can't begin to enforce. And why would they consider enforcing these laws when they are not enforcing many of the existing laws that were created and if enforced could have real impact on "ensuring the future of our water resources". Who's going to pay for this. Who's going to buy back the $10,000+ in docks that we own that will no longer be useable. What about the impact to businesses that manufacture docks in the state. What about the impact to those who sell and install them. And finally, are my homeowner taxes going to go down because limits the DNR is imposing on my prior user rights?
Wake up Minnesota DNR. Focus on your mission and do what needs to be done to improve the waterways, not proceed with another un-substainiated, un-supported, un-enforceable law.

Anonymous said...

I am a good steward of the Whitefish Chain of lakes since 1981. I live on Whitefish Lake full time and have a dock platform over 120 sq. ft.
I have found more junk floating around our beach area and on the bottom of our lake and it's not from our use. We live here, we take pride in our home our lake shore our swimming area and our docks and boats.
I couldn't believe it when this issue came up and I don't believe it's gotten this far. We will fight this issue untill it goes away! We promise!!!!
These regulations are as absurd as saying there are too many boats on the lakes, so the north side of the lake can use their boats on Mon & Wed's. South side can likewise only go boating on Tuesdays and Thursday's. East and West... well you see my point. The DNR, if allowed, will Regulate our lakehomeowners, (many who are secondary lakehomeowners who have large pocket books, pay large taxes, bring economy to our retailers and restuarants, who can spend their money other places than the Brainerd Lakes Area)right out of our area!
I was told at the DNR's 2007 meeting regarding the dock issue in Nisswa, by Tom Hovey himself that there are a "couple of calls" a week in the summers complaining of a lakeshoreowner having too large of a dock platform...Why in the big wide world have those few complaints made such an impact as to regulate those of us who choose to have a larger platform for our family to use? For many reasons including safety!
We are also the public and the people...but for some reason our voices were not heard, better stated we were ignored...the meeting I was at in Nisswa, over 100 people attended. Besides the DNR only a few maybe 5 people stood up and spoke in favor of dock regulations. The rest of us were quite vocal as to NOT being in favor of the regulation. It was obvious at that meeting the DNR had already fixated on an outcome on this issue.
We look forward to spring and the use of our dock as we have for almost 30 years! Go POPULAR!! We are 100% behind you!

Anonymous said...

We are wrting in response to the 2008 General Permit issued by the DNR

in January.

We have enjoyed living on Gull Lake for over 40 years and now have children

and grandchildren who visit us most weekends in the summer. Most water

activities involve the use of our dock and platform. We spend many hours swimming, skiing, sun bathing, and fishing with my grandchildren on the dock.

We purchased our new dock 2005 and did not know we were not even in

compliance with the 2002 General Permit! With that in mind, We feel our

10' x 20' platform is not offensive on our lakeshore. It is functional and practical for our enjoyment on the lake. The DNR limit of 120' square feet of use is not practical nor functional for water activities. There is no reason to limit the width of a platform to 8' compared to 10' other than to be confrontational. On a boatride on Gull Lake you will find at least 50% of the docks not in compliance and yet, other than few that are grossly overbuilt, the Gull Lake shoreline is beautiful.

We would urge lawmakers to communicate with the lakeshore property owners,who have the most at stake, to come up with a common sense, functional set of guidelines instead of the incremental DNR encroachment on our enjoyment of our property.

Anonymous said...

We are on Rocky Point Gull Lake. Our platform is greater than 120 sq ft. We require a platform our size to safely dock boats, swim from while we have guest boats tied up, and for general sun, as our shore is shaded with natural majestic pines that we intend to leave. As new owners we reshaped the dock arrangement and reduced the non-platform area by 160 sq ft. We have been allowing our shoreline to 'go back to nature' to reduce pesticides from the lake and make room for the little creatures. This is magnitudes more important than "dock control". We deeply care about the lake. We would not want to jeopardize the value or quality of the lake for any reason. We don't know how this dock rule improves our lake; we see it as a ridiculous infringement on our rights. We are not even mentioning the burdensome cost to comply, nor the enormous ever increasing property taxes continuously paid. The DNR should get on to something important like pesticides.

Anonymous said...

I hope nobody has any children or teenagers that might be inclined to dive off the end of their dock. Have the first responders standing by because four feet of water is not a sufficient depth and we will see a marked increase in injuries this year.

Anonymous said...

We have a place on Gull Lake, please explain how anybody could dock a boat on a windy day, with a platform that is 120sf?

Anonymous said...

I am a property owner on the south side of Big Trout Lake and have been since 1999. The area where I am at is very shallow and I have to have a long dock (over 120 feet)to get to water deep enough to pull my boats in and for swimming. I have a platform larger than the 120 sq ft. I also have a steep bank to the lake, which I've chosen to leave natural, instead, using my dock/platform for lakeside activities. I use my dock extensively for having guests, watching my kids swim and having multiple guests with boats tied up to the docking area.

Anonymous said...

Whitefish owner,Our dock has been larger than 120 sp feet since 1986. Our property has a 15-20 foot elevation abovet the lake, whe do not have a beach or seating area on shore. The DNR will not let me modify the shoreline to rectify this. Our family is not large, 2 parents, 2 children, two in-laws, one grandchild and two golden retreivers. 120 square feet provides 17 square feet per person (if my daughter is pregnent that becomes 15. We expect both kids to conceive or adopt at least 2 kids apiece... now we are down to 12 square feet apiece. If the dogs join us it beomes 8.5. With the 120 square foot rule we won't have any friends or visitors so that isn't a problem. Unfortunately, my wife's family visits often... then we have at least 20 people. Now we're down to 6 sq feet apiece. This rule makes it very difficult for our family to use the property, however,I still get to pay political subdivisions of the State of Minn over $25,000 a year it taxes. As luck would have it, I am not a resident of Minnesota so I have no voting rights and enjoy fractional benefits. This rule sucks.

Anonymous said...

I do not live on the lake but have many freinds that do. I think this issue is a waste of everyones time. My children and I go to our freinds houses to play at the lake, and sometimes there are as many as 10 kids swimming around the dock. are we going to punish these kids and make them swim from a single 4' X 10' platform? who are we satisfying with these new rules? I need to know because I am not a lakeshore owner and it is not for my benefit. I am sure it is not for the lakeshore owners benefit. So who? Lets fix the problems we have and try not to create new ones.

Anonymous said...

I put my first dock in at my cabin when I bought it in 1990. The platform was larger than 120 square feet. I replaced it with new dock in 2000 and again, the platform was larger than 120 square feet. Now I am being told I will be in violation of state law if I install my dock this spring. If the rules were changed in 2002 why was there not any public notification or discussion? There goes my clean record.

Anonymous said...

I have a place on Trout Lake on the Whitefish Chain and have a platform considerably larger than 120 square feet. My house is at the top of a steep hill which runs down to the water's edge and I have left this hill in a natural state. Would the DNR prefer I clearcut my property near the water's edge in order to create a an area my family and I can utilize for recreation and reduce the size of my dock platform? This does not make any sense! It would be far more detrimental to eliminate these trees and natural vegetation which reduce erosion and aid in natural filtration. However, if that's what they want.....

Anonymous said...

I'm a cabin owner on Lower Hay Lake and have been since 1975. I have had a non-conforming platform since that time un'be'knownst to me. Why? Because that is the space our family needs and uses for all the activities to our lake. My boat and pontoon shore station cover 240 sq. ft. each and now I'm told I can only have a 170 sq. ft. platform! It makes no sense at all. Paul Schroeder

Anonymous said...

I own a dock sales and service company in mid-minnesota with the majority of my service work on the whitefish chain. I would say that over 50% of the docks I service on the chain have a platform over the 120' mark. The most common concern I hear from my customers is the investment they have into their platforms. I know the cost well as I have sold to many of them. This is all I do so obviously I am concerned. The dock industry is a staple business in the lakes area, employing hundreds of people. has anyone looked at this matter through a economic standpoint? I do everyday.

Anonymous said...

We have a lake home on Daggett Lake, in the Whitefish Chain. We purchased in 1990. We also have had a nonconforming dock, since about 1995. It has a platform depth dimension of 10' and is in almost 6' of water as our bottom drops off quickly. The area is around 192 sft, but certainly much smaller than some of the really outrageous platforms around us. Having spent many years on the Whitefish chain, I am absolutely confident that nonconforming docks are 50% minimum. The Mn DNR must have better public meetings on this subject than what they did - clearly they must have scheduled the meetings that were held to avoid public input, not foster it. The Mn DNR is obligated to substantiate their claims concerning habitat and vegetation impact with scientific data. I keep looking for evidence of any data, and have not found anything quantitative. The current rules are excessive, unenforceable, and not well thought through. Reload and come up with something achievable.

Anonymous said...

How can 100 feet of lakeshore ownership have the same dock platform limit as 200 feet of lakeshore ownership. With 200 feet, we could choose to put out 2 docks with smaller platforms - vs one dock with a larger platform to gain the access needed. Ultimately, 2 docks would have greater overall lake coverage area than 1 dock with a larger platform. Does this make sense. One size fits all is not the way to handle the dock issue.

Anonymous said...

One size fits all is not the answer. If we are going to waste the public's money on the dock issue, at least put some intellgence behind the decision making process. Why should a 100 foot lot have the same dock size limits as a 200 foot lot. We have one dock with a large platform. We could choose to run 2 parallel docks and end up with a similar platform size but ultimately cover a much larger portion of the overall lake. Does this make sense? No. As long as you are spending our money on this issue, please use some intelligence in the overall process.

Anonymous said...

I've been visiting the Whitefish Chain since 1970. We've owned a place with my parents on Trout Lake since 1992. My parents are still there and we purchased our own lake home on Trout Lake in the last couple years. We both have docking systems over the 120 sq ft regulations. We were never made aware of the 8 ft limit when purchasing the docks. We have always taken steps to protect our water and animal life and are concerned about our lake. We paid a few thousand dollars to put riprap in to protect the shoreline from eroding.

Where is the scientific proof? A few people are making this big stink because of what? non-scientific assumptions? Why not use the DNR efforts for policing the landings, to prevent boats with invasive species attached to them from entering our waters. There are so many other good works to be concerned with, DOCKS???

We have fishermen fishing under both docks on a regular basis. We see the fish swimming under our docks every day. Do boats want to zig zag in and out of the docks? I don't think so, and if they did it wouldn't be real safe for the swimmers. There are VERY few docks that we see that are UNREASONABLE in size.

The reason for people having lake homes has changed over the decades. Fishing used to be the big draw. In the last two decades many of the lakes, especially the larger lakes have become more recreational in nature. People have come up to these lake areas paid a pretty penny for their property, put nice lake homes on them, supported the local businesses and NOW are presented with unrealitic restrictions for their lake front. Presented with these restrictions after the fact, after they have invested a lot of money in the area, their homes, AND their docks. Most people have lake homes so they can use the lake. The dock is our favorite place to spend time with friends and family, to watch boats, to fish, and watch loons meandor by, to see the sun rise and set. We don't call our dock a "party platform". It's MULTI purpose platform with a lot of very family friendly activities being enjoyed on it any chance we get!!

I think the people living on the lakes, paying the taxes, caring about their water should have a voice! The platforms are not hurting anything!! Does the DNR want to buy back all of our permanant dock sections that we would be unable to use????

Anonymous said...

The power and bullying of the DNR is clearly evident in the fact that we are mostly "anonymous".

Anonymous said...

My family has vacationed on Gull Lake since the 1940s and purchased property there in the 1950s. My enjoyment growing up there prompted my husband and me to purchase property and build in 2001when our new dock was put in. We have a platform of 10 x 20 so are out of compliance with the new rule. If we had sandy beach, it clearly wouldn't be necessary but we don't. Our young grandchildren love the lake but need to be supervised. A 200 square foot platform is hardly a "party platform" in my mind but is crucial to our enjoyment of the lake. One size does not fit all. Some rules may be necessary but they should be more clearly thought through from the vantage point of all concerned.

Anonymous said...

I have had a home on the Whitefish Chain for the last 17 years and I don't understand what all of the concern is about. I don't recall seeing many docks that are an intrusion to anyone boating on the lakes, in fact just ask any fisherman why he chooses to cast his line under docks and lifts. Apparently they recognize that to be a good fishing spot. Does that mean the platforms are "harming" the environment. If the platform is not hindering navigation, then I say let the lakeshore owner enjoy his property that he paid so dearly for!

Anonymous said...

I am on Lake Ossie in Crow Wing, have been for 7 years and only recently became aware that some sort of restriction existed on dock size. My Dock is 4ft wide by 40ft long (due to depth) and has a 10'X 12' pad at the end. (280 total sq ft) I have a boat tied to each side all summer. The pad provides a safe, stable platform for my family (3 and 4 yr old daughters) and guests to access our boats. If I were held to the letter of the law, I would probably do 8'X 50'(400 sq ft, same depth as before) and perhaps two. I currently have 201 ft of shoreline of which 150 ft is virgin so there is plenty of room for improvement - but I'd rather not. I'd rather Minnesota's public servants not spend their/our time/money on this either. Fight invasive species instead of homeowners.

Anonymous said...

A more favorable article from the Detroit Lakes paper, disagrees with Sen. Mary Olsen:

http://www.dl-online.com/articles/index.cfm?id=33961

I love the ending.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

We have had a cabin on Gull Lake for over 50 years. Per the new ordinance, it appears that we have had a non-compliance dock since the early 60's. At the end of our dock, we have a small 10' x 20' platform which we enjoy immensely. The platform serves many purposes; it serves as a barrier to the swimming area to protect my grand children from boating traffic and it serves as a place to load & unload people from our 25 foot pontoon boat and/or a place for visitors to dock their boat. It's a great place to entertain, swim, fish, sit and it appears to be a haven for fish. We have coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night on our platform. This platform is an integral part of our lake home...I'd like to increase this platform to 10' x 25', not make it smaller

I believe that the DNR needs to do some research and get lake owner's input before passing these trivial policies. Let's focus our energy and taxpayer dollars on items such as milfoil, zebra mussels, water pollution & clarity, boating safety, etc.