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Pippi Mayfield, Forum Communications, Published July 01 2012

Several boat ramps on lakes Melissa, Sallie closed

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – In order to protect their lakes from aquatic invasive species, the Melissa-Sallie Lake Association and Lakeview Township have closed several public commons on lakes Sallie and Melissa.

“The concern is that boats showing up to use them were not necessarily people from those lake areas,” said Ken Shroyer of Lakeview Township. “The lake association was just trying to make sure these people got focused to the launch sites that are being monitored. They just want to reduce the chance of problems showing up.”

Mary Ann Bond, Melissa-Sallie Lake Association president, said that when the association met in early June, they agreed that something needed to be done about the risk of zebra mussels entering their lakes.

“We can’t get enough volunteers to guard every commons area on the lake. It’s just impossible,” she said.

Back in the early 1900s, land was deeded to the public around lakes Sallie and Melissa to be used for enjoying the lake. That could mean picnicking, walking to the lake, or even an informal boat launch. And that’s what the lake association and township are trying to control: the impromptu boat launches.

The public commons sites – there are 14 on Lake Melissa and three on Lake Sallie – will still be open to the public between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. The restriction is only on the launching and removing boats and other watercraft.

Large boulders and signs have been placed at the closed commons areas to prevent launching. The Department of Natural Resource’s sites will still be open on each lake – off Highway 59 for Lake Melissa and near the DNR headquarters on Lake Sallie.

DNR staff, lake association members and other volunteers will monitor those landings for the spread of invasive species and boat inspections.

People are being asked to follow the procedures described by the DNR and the Pelican River Watershed District for cleaning watercraft and trailers as each are moved in and out of area lakes.

Shroyer said the sites are just temporarily closed at this point. As far as everyone knows, there are no zebra mussels in lakes Sallie or Melissa yet, and residents would like to keep it that way.

The lake association is all about protecting the lake and its health, Bond said.

"We all love being at the lake and don't want to lose the quality of the environment of the lake," she said.

Pippi Mayfield writes for Detroit Lakes Newspapers