Counties stepping up to close gaps in State Law

June 5, 2018 - Otter Tail County, MN- The County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing in the County Board Room at the Government Services Center in Fergus Falls for proposed Aquatic Invasive Species revisions to the Dock and Riparian Use Ordinance. The current policies in the dock and riparian use ordinance will remain in place but language will be added that enforces the current state law. The revisions bring Otter Tail County into compliance with MN Statue Chapter 84D. The statue states “A boat lift, dock, swim raft, or associated equipment that has been removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body until a minimum of 21 days have passed.” The exceptions to the ordinance are as follows: a dock, pier, wharf or boatlift that has never been in a body of water, is being moved from one location to another in the same body of water.  The movement of all other docks, piers, wharfs, or boatlifts must be registered with the OTC Land and Resource Management Office.

The County Board discussed the proposed changes with Land and Resources Director Chris LeClair and AIS Specialist Spencer McGrew. Mr. McGrew reiterated to the board that the addition of the revisions brings Otter Tail County into compliance with state law and establishes a system to enforce the ordinance. Members of the public, including members of the AIS Task Force, lakes associations and dock/lift business owners provided feedback to commissioners. A comprehensive discussion took place as varying perspectives were shared. The consensus was every governmental, public and private entity needs to partner to protect the lakes of Otter Tail County.

“The message to the people of our county is that 21 days is important if we are all invested in keeping our lakes pristine,” stated Commissioner Lee Rogness.

The County Board of commissioners voted to pass the ordinance with the changes to go into effect upon publication. The Board Members discussed revisiting the ordinance this winter to further discuss preventive measures on other pieces of water equipment such as attached mechanical pontoon and boat legs/lifts.

Spencer McGrew remarked, “This ordinance is for public awareness and education to make others aware of this policy. We are all invested in the protection of our county’s lakes.”

"When Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates worked to advance the County AIS Prevention Aid formula, our hope was that forward thinking counties would be able to take action to protect the lakes in their jurisdiction. The energy and innovation of local efforts gives me great hope," said Jeff Forester, Executive Director Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates.

For more information or to register a dock, pier, wharf or boatlift please call 218-998-8095, or visit the office at the 520 West Fir Ave in Fergus Falls. Otter Tail County Dock ordinance:http://www.co.otter-tail.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/8862/Dock-Ordinance

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