Last year’s new law providing for the permitted removal of logs resting on the bottom of three lakes has raised the concern of some lake owner associations. Under the new law, the DNR would permit the activity and monitor the program to protect the shoreline, fish habitat areas, and other environmental concerns. The three leases permitted by the DNR on Plantagenet Lake in Hubbard County, Gull Lake in Cass County, and Hill Lake in Aitkin County are effective June 15, 2001 and would run for three years. Most of the concern centers around the impact on mercury movement, water chemistry, and public access activity.
This year, S. F. 1270, authored by Senator Kinkel, has passed two committees and calls for a repeal of the entire DNR sunken log recovery program and proposes a pilot lake study to assess the environmental impact of log removal, including mercury movement. The DNR is supporting the repeal of the law; last year they were neutral. Rep. Howes continues to work to save the program, sighting economic development potential and no evidence of environmental impact on silt and mercury movement by the removal of sunken logs.
Last year, MLA attended the hearings on the bill, but did not testify about it. For the economic reasons sighted by Howes and after not hearing any concern from the DNR about environmental impacts, MLA supported the legislation. Following passage of the legislation, MLA encouraged the DNR to hold late summer public hearings in Brainerd to receive input from citizens and information from the contractors about how the process would be accomplished before the DNR permits were issued. The hearings were held, but the permits were granted prior to the hearings. This year, MLA is working with authors Howes and Kinkel in an attempt to reach a compromise position.