Keep it Clean on Lake of the Woods this ice-fishing season
If it had to do with the county’s No. 1 natural resource, the Lake of the Woods County Board usually acted fairly quickly.
But in the year that I covered those county board meetings, I don’t remember a quicker signoff than the one that ultimately got the Keep it Clean effort going on and around Lake of the Woods.
It was the winter of 2013, and after several rubbish-filled years on the lake and shoreline on the Minnesota side of the famed ice-fishing destination, at least one of the groups spearheading Keep it Clean came before the board to get it to sign off on the purchase of the huge dumpsters so as to get this thing rolling.
Keep it Clean was now an official organization and debuted that next winter.
With the support of those groups — the county, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lake of the Woods Tourism, Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District, and Friends of Zippel Bay State Park, and with assistance from the neighboring counties of Roseau and Koochiching — the Keep it Clean program has done just that.
But this winter — Keep it Clean’s fourth — could be its biggest challenge to date: The walleye/sauger bite might be the best it’s been since Keep it Clean started. That means lots of fishing pressure and, of course, everything that can come with it.
As in trash. Lots of trash.
According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, dumpsters have been set at strategic locations along the south shore of the lake and will be in place through the ice-fishing season. Anglers will find the dumpsters at the Wheeler’s Point Access, Cyrus Resort, Zippel Bay Resort, Arnesen’s Rocky Point, Swift Ditch and the Point in Warroad.
According to the Keep it Clean webpage, approximately 115 tons of garbage gets hauled away in the dumpsters each year.
Ice anglers are encouraged to collect all garbage from their fishing sites and dispose of it in these dumpsters when coming off the ice to help keep garbage and waste out of the lake when the ice melts. In what has become a successful community drive, locals also participate in an annual cleanup along the lake in the spring, when the open water returns. Even with Keep it Clean’s hardwater efforts, that cleanup results in about an additional 1,000 pounds in garbage.
For more information on the Keep It Clean program, go to http://lakeofthewoodsmn.com/keep-clean/.