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It's dry out there! Low lake water level isn't just a local problem

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I know I have not been alone in dealing with the frustrations of low water and poor public access conditions. I thought last year was bad, this year is worse, and I believe it is as bad as I can remember since fishing area waters for more than 30 years. I know I was also not alone in doing some complaining and wondering why someone doesn't do something. It seemed to me that 15 minutes with a backhoe at each of the accesses could solve a lot of problems for me, other local access users, and visitors coming to our area for some fall fishing. 

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I decided to do some checking and see what could be done. I now have more patience and acceptance of my need to deal with the situation "as it is" to the best of my ability.

I visited with the gentleman from the DNR in charge of "trails and waterways" for our area. He has about 600 lakes with need and a reduced budget to deal with very challenging drought conditions that have left most lake accesses with a need for time, attention, and the money it takes to resolve the problems. Some priority situations are already being addressed, and of course, that will leave out some that we (or I) think should be a priority. Most situations will not get resolved this fall. We need to get some fall rain, good winter snow-pack, and some moisture next spring to help our situation. The DNR is already working on plans for addressing the access concerns for next spring.

Many factors also complicate the "just get a backhoe in here" solution. The equipment has to be able to reach the scour pile created by large engine boats power loading, and much of the equipment can't do the job at this time without creating problems for the equipment. The  DNR can and will contract for services that can handle resolving the shallow access problems, but they also need to make sure that equipment is cleaned properly and the AIS issues are dealt with properly.

Other complications such as the amount of material that can be removed, where it is removed to, and how far into the lake they can proceed need to be addressed for each situation. Insurance coverages for contracted services and the additional expenses all become a part of a much more complicated process to fix the problem Mother Nature has created. Be aware that permits are needed for private accesses and anyone thinking about fixing their own access problem.

I am glad I made the call. I see the bigger picture and have stopped viewing the situation from my selfish perspective. Life continually creates inconveniences that can't always be fixed or resolved right away. Sometimes they can never be resolved and we are left with no choice but to accept. The drought situation we are facing here locally with our lake situation is happening all over the state. Lakes are not only abnormally low, but rivers and streams are hardly recognizable because they are so low. Some creeks, ponds, and slews have dried up completely. We are going to start becoming aware of many other problems that are being created by this unusual weather trend. So, like I mentioned several weeks ago, prepare yourself to deal with shallow access problems. They won't be going away anytime soon.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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