Vanishing natural shorelines hurt lake quality

Image of the front cover of the report

In June 2022, Paul Radomski from the MN DNR presented the ideas from this newly released paper at our MN COLA Annual meeting. This was one of the sessions in our Lake Resiliency series.

Now the Vanishing Natural Shorelines paper has been published and you can read the whole story of how the loss of natural shorelines contributes to the degrading of lake quality. Tom Nelson, MN COLA Secretary and Itasca County SWCD Board member, was a key contributor from MN COLA. We encourage you to read and disseminate this document.

As Steve Kloiber from the MN DNR has written: “The Minnesota Natural Shoreline Partnership was formed around the idea that regulatory approaches to shoreland protection have not been sufficient to stop the loss of natural shoreland. This group has chosen to focus on the idea that there is a need to change social norms around how people think of their shoreline.”

We should individually and collectively do everything we can to stop the loss of natural shorelines and reclaim lost shorelines. Let’s change the social norm so natural shorelines are preferred.

Metro legislators rocked by surfing

MN COLA President Joe Shneider along with MLR Executive Director Jeff Forester and Marina owner Gabe Jabbour took several legislative leaders out on Lake Minnetonka in late August to see wakesurfing in action. From left to right are MN COLA President Joe Shneider, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Rick Hansen, Rep. Larry Kraft, Sen. Kelly Morrison, MLRA’s Jeff Forester, and Marina owner Gabe Jabbour.

ACCL deploys new AIS cleaning tool stations with Cass County

The Association of Cass County Lakes (ACCL) developed a low-cost AIS cleaning station and is deploying it with help from Cass County. Nick Bluhm from ACCL and Steve Henry from Cass County presented their best-practices solution at the September MN COLA meeting.

A summary of the solution and the program to deploy is linked below.

Lakeland PBS recently broadcasted a new segment covering the project. Watch it here.

Email Nick Bluhm at for more information including how you can adapt the solution for your use.

Michigan Fisheries Division releases report on wake impacts

The Fisheries Division of the Michigan DNR released a literature review and recommendations regarding the effects of wake boats on aquatic habitat. An earlier version sparked controversy and it was relabeled as a draft. This July, the final report was released.

Recommendations in the report were couched as “voluntary best operating practices in support of the continued use of wake boats while minimizing the effects on natural resources. Their recommendations are copied below:

  1. Boats operating in wake-surfing mode or wake-boarding mode, during which boat speed, wave shapers, and/or ballast are used to increase wave height, are recommended to operate at least 500 feet from docks or the shoreline, regardless of water depth.
  2. Boats operating in wake-surfing or wake-boarding modes are recommended to operate in water at least 15 feet deep.
  3. Ballast tanks should be completely drained prior to transporting the watercraft over land.

Further, the Michigan report “recommended that awareness and voluntary adoption of these best operating practices be encouraged through outreach actions and materials to educate wake boat operators.”

Free to a good home: Specialized lake netting

Netting that was used for on Lake Koronis as part of a pilot project to control starry stonewort is available for free to a good home.

Each net is 300’ long, 6’ deep, and plastic coated. 4 nets are available: 2 nets have 3/8” holes, 2 nets have 3/16” holes. The nets have floats on the top and weights on the bottom. The nets were decontaminated and have been in storage since 2017. Other details are available.

Contact if your lake association can use any of these nets for any purpose.

Updates from MN COLA’s Annual Meeting

Our Annual Meeting in Little Falls last week was a great success with terrific speakers and insightful discussions! Over 30 people joined us for our first in-person meeting since late 2019.

As a follow-up to the meeting, we have attached two items for your use:

  • Draft minutes from the meeting (these will be approved at our September meeting)
  • An update on the 2023 Legislative Session from Jeff Forester of Minnesota Lakes and River’s Advocates

At the meeting we unanimously elected 7 new members to the MN COLA Board for 3-year terms, and we are excited to have a full complement of 15 Directors! Our Board Members and their term are listed here. Note that terms end in June of the noted year.

  • Blaine Barkley – 2024
  • Jan Believeau – 2024
  • Biz Clark – 2026
  • Kevin Farnum – 2024
  • Jeff Forester – 2026
  • Steve Frawley – 2026
  • Lynn Goodrich – 2025
  • Jim Gray – 2026
  • David Helgerson – 2024
  • Kathy Jonsrud – 2025
  • Jim Kutzner – 2025
  • Tom Nelson – 2025
  • Ruth Schaefer – 2025
  • Joe Shneider – 2024
  • Tom Watson – 2026

We noted we were doing a “last call” for the 2023 Communications Survey. If you haven’t yet taken the survey, it would be great if you could carve out a few minutes to do it.

MN COLA builds consensus for passage of Watercraft Operator License bill

The Minnesota Legislature in the 2023 session expanded Minnesota’s existing Boater Education requirements to all boat operators aged 12 and up, born on or after July 1, 1987.  MN COLA was a leader in building consensus across a diverse group of stakeholders to help make the law reality.

Click here for more information about this great step forward for safer boating on Minnesota waters.


The Minnesota Legislature in the 2023 session expanded Minnesota’s existing Boater Education Program to all boat operators aged 12 and up, born on or after July 1, 1987. Minnesota’s previous boater education requirement was for youth (ages 12-17).

A watercraft operator’s license has been a cornerstone of MN COLA’s Legislative Agenda for years. MN COLA’s consensus building throughout the water community over numerous legislative sessions helped make this law reality.


The MN DNR will be establishing a working group to create and implement the program. The program will cover core safety education in the areas of waterway rules, user conflict reduction, and towing responsibility. It will also provide important lake ecology education on preventing the spread of AIS and understanding how excessive wake height and powerful propeller thrust can negatively impact shoreline erosion, lake bottom habitat, and water quality—all of which are pressing issues for most lakeshore owners. The required boater operator education will help calibrate all Minnesota boaters’ knowledge with

current information and research, and increase the likelihood that users operate their watercraft in an informed, responsible, and respectful manner.

The requirement is phased in and effective:

  • July 1, 2025, if born on or after July 1, 2004;
  • July 1, 2026, if born on or after July 1, 2000;
  • July 1, 2027, if born on or after July 1, 1996;
  • July 1, 2028, if born on or after July 1, 1987.

Other details of the requirement include:

  • Boats with a 25hp or less do not require Boater Education and Certification to operate;
  • Youth Boaters (ages 12-17) limited to 75 hp motors;
  • Watercraft owner is responsible for operation of watercraft;
  • Rental business requirements which include administering a “short boater safety exam” to operators without a MN certification;
  • Program can be administered electronically or on paper.

Vermont proposes rules for use of wake boats

Vermont may soon have the toughest rules in the US for managing wake boats and their activities. Vermont’s rulemaking process is different than Minnesota’s as petitions by the public must be considered. These proposed rule changes were developed by the state in response to a petition submitted in March 2022 from an organization called Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes. The Phase 1 wake research done by the St. Anthony Falls Lab at the U of MN was part of the basis for the petition and the state’s proposed rule.

The proposed rule defines a ‘wakesports zone’ as having a minimum of 50 contiguous acres that are at least 500 feet from shore and at least 20 feet deep. The proposed rule also includes a “home lake” approach to help reduce the potential for wake boats to spread AIS from residual water in their ballast tanks.

The petitioners are pleased with the proposed rule but note that the distance from shore is not sufficient as per the U of MN’s peer-reviewed research to reduce the ecological and safety impacts.

MN COLA is proud to have provide input and support for the petition.

AIS continues to spread in Minnesota

tiny-zebra-mussels-on-the-back-of a-hand
Zebra mussels can clog water supply inputs creating problems for homeowners and municipalities

It’s still early in season for AIS detection, but zebra mussels continue their march through Minnesota. As of June 29, 11 new zebra mussel infested water bodies were added to the MN DNR’s Infested Waters List: 6 in Wright County, 2 in Otter Tail County, and 1 each in Hubbard, Kandiyohi, and Stearns Counties.

In addition to these new zebra mussel infestations, Eurasian watermilfoil was confirmed in 1 lake in Le Sueur County and starry stonewort was confirmed in 1 lake in Kandiyohi County.