Sallie, Melissa commons closed to boats
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. "And we think that most people who come and use our lakes want to keep them clean, but if we can close most of the commons areas, then there's a better of chance of seeing when the boats come in and making sure that none of them are coming in with zebra mussels on them."
Back in the early 1900s, land was deeded to the public around lakes Sallie and Melissa to be used for enjoying the lake.
"It might be a fairly wide piece of land and the narrowest one is six feet wide, leading to Lake Melissa," Shroyer said. "These are pieces of land that are being used for the public good."
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 because no one knows what the future will bring regarding control of invasive species.
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.
"But, the lake association is concerned about it," Shroyer said, "so they brought a recommendation to the Lakeview Township Board."
The lake association then surveyed the commons areas to determine which should be closed off. They decided six on Lake Melissa and one on Lake Sallie because some aren't necessary to block because they are simply a piece of mowed grass for people to walk across.
He said that in meetings leading up to the closings, there haven't been any complaints from residents.
"They were all very much in favor of it ... So far, it's been good," he said. "When they were putting out the boulders, people talked to them and said it was a good idea."
Bond said when they took a vote at the lake association's annual meeting, it was unanimous to close the commons areas to boat launching.
"Even people who live two doors from those commons areas said, 'I'll go around the lake,'" she said. "It's a small price to pay. If it works, it's a very small price to pay."
The lake association is all about protecting the lake and its health, she added.
"We all love being at the lake and don't want to lose the quality of the environment of the lake."