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Boulders again block accesses

After a standing-room only crowd showed up for a meeting on Monday, the Lakeview Township Board reversed itself and decided to once again close most public accesses on lakes Mellissa and Sallie to boat launching.

The board took the same action last year.

That means just one public access will be open for boat launching on each lake.

The DNR manages those two accesses, the township controls the others, which are public but not managed by the DNR, and which will still be open to swimming and picnicking — just not as boat launches, according Lakeview Town Board Chairman David Knoph.

The idea is to protect the lakes against zebra mussels, an invasive species that can travel from lake to lake on boats.

By having one access open to boat traffic on each lake, the Sallie-Mellissa Lake Association has a better shot at staffing the accesses with paid educators who can ward off potentially infected boats before they enter the lakes.

Boulders were placed last summer to block roads into seven public accesses — six on Lake Mellissa and one on Lake Sallie. They were later removed for the winter.

About a month ago, the Lakeview town board voted to keep the boulders off all but two sites, after a meeting attended largely by people who lived in the area and had used those accesses to launch their boats for years.

But on Monday, a larger, more vocal crowd of lakeshore owners pressed the board to put the boulders back across all seven of the access roads to help ward off zebra mussels, and the board agreed.

“Under the original agreement last year, we placed them (the boulders) temporarily,” Knoph said. “We removed them last fall. We didn’t want snowmobilers to run into them.

“Last month we revisited the idea of the boulders — there was only opposition (to the idea) last month,” he said. “Those in favor came last (Monday) night — 50 strong.”

The divisive issue put the board in a tough spot, and board members only agreed to replace all the boulders after people in the crowd agreed to “get involved,” Knoph said. “It’s got to be a community effort.”

The county environmental services office is working with the lake association on its program to keep the lakes free of zebra mussels and other invasive species, Knoph said.