Water Safety

WATER SAFETY – Chairperson Bill Casby



I’m Bill Casby the new Water Safety Director for the CLA. Well, summer is here and boating season is in full swing. Whether your fishing, kayaking, tubing or enjoying a nice boat ride around the lake be watchful of your surroundings and other boaters. Make sure that yo have PFD’s (they don’t call them life preservers anymore) for everyone on the boat along with appropriate sizes.

A child’s PFD for a 50 lb child won’t help much for a 175 lb adult. And don’t just store them in a locker put them on! Your life might depend on it.

When the lake level is high…let’s go slow. It will hep with land erosion around unprotected shoreline.

One last thing. If you use the public boat launch, drain your live well and pull the drain plug before you leave the parking lot.


No permit is needed to install, construct, or reconstruct your dock on property you own if you comply with the following:  –   A dock is a narrow platform or structure extending toward the
water from the shoreline.  A dock may provide access to
moored watercraft or deeper water for swimming, fishing, and
other recreation.

–   The structure, other than a watercraft lift or watercraft
canopy, is not more than 8 feet wide and is not combined
with other similar structures so as to create a larger structure.

–   The dock is no longer than needed to achieve its intended use,
including reaching navigable water depth.

–  The structure is not a hazard to navigation, health, or safety.

– The structure will allow the free flow of water beneath it.

– The structure is not used or intended as a marina.

– The structure is consistent with the guidelines of the local
unit of government.

– Docks placed on rock-filled cribs are located only on waters
where the bed is predominantly bedrock.

Reprinted  from DNR Waters, based on Minnesota Rules, Chapter 6115

Gator found in Snake River near Pine City

On the evening of August 10, 2005, WCCO News (Channel 4) aired a story about a man who apparently grabbed an alligator out of the Snake River a few days earlier.

WCCO’s article reported that “Steve Dorion of Pine City, Minn. was fishing on the Snake River about a week ago when he spotted the 2 foot retile. In disbelief, Dorion jumped in the water and went after it.”

Dorion contacted the Pine County Sheriff’s office. Luckily, Dorion had previous experience capturing reptiles when he lived in Arizona. He had to wrestle with it for a while before getting it to shore. It is a good thing Dorion was able to rescue the reptile, not only for its own safety,
but for the safety of children and adults.

It is believed that this was someone’s unwanted pet that was dumped in the river. At the moment, Dorion is unsure about what they will do with the reptile.

Editor’s Note: This story is a good reminder about making proper arrangements for unwanted pets. Your sewer system, lake, river, stream, woods, roadside, or pond are definitely not the proper place to drop off an unwanted animal. Contact your local Humane Society or animal rescue to find out where you can bring your unwanted pets.

Reprinted from Pine County Waters, 2005

A Shoreland Best Management Practice (BMP)
 from the MN DNR:

“Be considerate of other lake users”

Consider some of the many different ways we use our lakes:  jet skiing, boating, tubing, water-skiing, fishing, hunting, canoeing, wildlife watching and swimming.  Follow local watercraft rules and noise ordinances to help ensure a positive experience for everyone who uses Minnesota’s lakes for recreation.


–  What’s the hurry? Boating slowly makes less wake, less noise, reduces
pollution and is less disruptive to wildlife and other people – plus you’ll
see more and enjoy the lake longer.

– Be observant of wildlife and give it a respectful berth.

– When observing loons, stay 200 feet away and view them with
binoculars or a spotting scope.

– Remember that swimmers, canoeists, kayakers, sailboats, sailboards
and other non-motorized users ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT-OF-WAY.

– Minnesota law requires all Personal Watercrafts must travel at
slow-no-wake speed (5 mph or less) within 150 feet of non-motorized
vessels, shore or docks. PWCs must also travel at slow-no wake speed
when passing through emergent or floating vegitation.

– Operation of personal watercraft is permitted only between 9:30 a.m.
and one hour before sunset.

Reprinted from Minnesota Lakes Association Reporter, Volume 9, No. 3, August 2005

DNR’s Youth Boating Course Goes On-line

Young boaters seeking to earn their Minnesota Watercraft Operator’s Permit may now do it on their computer at home. “Kids have always had the option of taking our home study boating safety course, but on line boating safety certification is brand new,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist.

Children 12 through 17 years of age are required to have a Minnesota Watercraft Operator’s permit in order for them to operate boats over 25 horsepower without an adult on board. The online course also coulld earn adult operators a discount on their boat insurance. The cost for the online permit test is $15.

Traditional paper home study course material is available at no charge to those who aren’t in a hurry or for some other reason don’t care to take a computer course. The DNR worked with Boat Ed, a company that provides on line boating safety courses for 29 states, to create and administer the course.

The test fee covers their costs for development and administration of the course. None of the money goes to Minnesota DNR. For more informationa see www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/testpacket.html or contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free in state 888-646-6367.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Don’t Let It Happen to You!

Eight out of 10 boating fatalities could be prevented if boaters would wear a personal flotation device, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. By law, boats must carry a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD for each person on board. The PFDs must be the right size and be worn by the passengers or easily accessible. Boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also have one throwable PFD. Last year 17 people died in boating accidents in Minnesota.


Thirty people died last year in boating accidents in Minnesota. The previous year there were 16 deaths. The increase came after years of declining death tolls.

Twenty nine of these deaths were a result of collisions. In addition to this, there were 135 reportable non-fatal accidents involving 197 boats, 77 injuries and $407,242 in property damage.

Among the tips to prevent water emergencies the DNR and Minnesota Department of Public Safety suggests:

1. Do not boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can result in:

– Diminished judgement, motor skills, peripheral vision, balance, and
the ability to process information.
– Slowed reaction and reflexive response time.
– Reduced depth perception, vision, and focus.
– An inner ear disturbance, making it impossible to distinguish up from
down when suddenly immersed in cool water.
– An accelerated onset of hypothermia if immersed in cool water after
consuming alcohol.

2. Wear life vests; especially children. (Only four out of the thirty
drowning victims in 2002 were wearing life vests.)

3. Turn on lights at night.

4. Keep an eye on the weather.

5. Make sure boat and equipment are operational.

6. Take a boat safety course.

7. Pay attention to navigational markers.

New Coast Guard Boating Rules for 2005

In May, 2005, a new U.S. Coast Guard rule took effect which requires that an approved life jacket be worn by children younger that age 10 in boats that are underway or otherwise not tied up to a dock or permanent mooring.

Called the ‘Grant Allen Law’, the measure was named in memory of the child who drowned after falling out of his father’s boat in 2003.

There are a few exceptions to the law. Children are not required to wear a life jacket if they are in a boat’s enclosed cabin or below decks, or on an anchored boat that is being used as a platform for swimming or diving. Also, children on board commercial or chahter vessels with a licensed captain are exempt from the life jacket wearing requirement.

Boat operators who violate the law are subject to a written warning for the first offense and a petty misdemeanor for a second offense until may 1, 2006, and a petty misdemeanor for any offense on or after may 1, 2006.

Enforce this rule as you boat with family and friends. Children who will not wear the proper life vest should not be allowed on watercraft.

For more information, visit the DNR Web Site http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ or call (651) 296-6157 or tollfree, 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Personal Watercraft Limits

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a state statute that restricts the times people can jet around on their personal watercraft from 9:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset. A Prior Lake man challenged the law after he was given a citation 45 minutes before sunset in June 2001.

About 37,900 personal watercraft are registered in Minnesota. When vehicles are registered, owners are given decals that must be displayed at all times that list the rules governing them, including the time restrictions. Therefore, all owners and riders should be familiar with the times. The time restrictions were set in large part to appease anglers who prefer to fish in the early morning and at sunset and do not want too much wake or noise around them. Safety, especially at night, was also a concern since personal watercraft do not have lights.

For Kids Who Like Boats

If your family includes a youth ages 12 through 17 who would like to operate a motorboat this summer, send in now for the free youth watercraft operator’s permit test packet.

Read the material and complete the test at home to earn a permit which gives youths the privilege of operating a motorboat on Minnesota waters. Adults may take the course too – and it could earn you a break on boat insurance. Contact the DNR Information Center (E-mail info@dnr.state.mn.us; telephone 651-296-6157 or toll-free in state 888-657-3929.)

Safe boating should begin early!


People who are planning to ride on a state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trail in Minnesota this winter are required to purchase a Minnesota snowmobile state trail sticker for their machine, according to Tom Danger, trail operations and recreation services supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

State legislators passed the new sticker law during the 2005 legislative session. The law went into effect Oct. 1. The trail sticker costs $16 for an annual permit and $31 for a three-year sticker; the price includes a $1 filing fee. The annual permit will only be valid from Nov. 1 through April 30 of each year.

Anyone caught without a valid trail sticker will be required to purchase an annual permit at the price of the three-year permit, $31.

The annual Minnesota snowmobile state trail sticker can be purchased from a deputy registrar or any of the 1,800 electronic licensing agents throughout Minnesota, by telephone at 1-888-665-4236, or through the DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/.

The three-year sticker may only be purchased during snowmobile registration at a deputy registrar office, through the mail to the DNR at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, or with an on-line renewal at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/. A $3.50 convenience fee will be added to stickers purchased by telephone or online.

Additional information about the state trail sticker, including proper placement, can be found in the 2005-2006 Snowmobile Regulations handbook.

Minnesota has 20,385 total miles of snowmobile trails, with more than 18,000 miles managed and maintained by local snowmobile clubs through the grant-in-aid program. Revenue generated from the sale of the state trail stickers will help fund the grant-in-aid program.

Reprinted from the Pine City Pioneer, 10/13/05.


Another snowmobile season is fast approaching, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is encouraging snowmobilers to be safe. DNR officials say riding snowmobiles can be an enjoyable form of outdoor recreation when you follow the rules of the road and trail:

– Take a safety-training course. To legally ride a snowmobile, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snomobile-safety certificate.

– Maximum speed in Minnesota is 50 mph. Many times, trail conditions or riding at night require   slower speeds.

– Stay away from alcohol; it’s a major factor in most accidents.

– Be cautious of hidden danger, especially when operating in a road right-of-way. Dangers could   include fences, dirt, pieces of unused concrete culverts, wood
survey stakes and steel right-of-way markers left after the construction season.
Also, watch for brush piles and scattered rocks and boulders that may be obscured by fallen       snow.

– Slow down, especially at night; overriding your headlight is another major cause of accidents.

– Display current snowmobile registration.

– Stay off the roadway, shoulder and slope of state and county highways.

– Operate your snowmobile in the same direction as highway traffic when
riding 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

– Stay off the median of four-lane highways.

– Come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing a public

– Cross public roadways at a 90-degree angle.

– Check local ordinances on when and where you may ride.

– Stay on marked trails; the future of our trail system depends on it.

– A person younger than 14, without a snowmobile-safety certificate, may
operate a snowmobile when supervised or accompanied by a parent,
legal guardian or other person 18 or older designated by the parent or

– Remember, ice is never safe.

– Never ride alone.

– Make sure your machine is in proper operating condition.

For a copy of DNR’s Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules and Regulations handbook, call 1-888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.

Reprinted from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, 12/19/04.


Some ice-safety tips from the DNR:

Allow at least 5 inches of ice for snowmobiles and ATVs.

Allow 8 – 12 inches for cars and trucks.

Open window and unbuckle seatbelt to allow for quick exit.

Do not wear a life vest inside vehicle because it could hinder escape through a window.

Avoid alcohol.

Watch for and avoid weak spots. Ask at local bait shops for information on thin-ice areas.

Carry emergency gear – ice rescue claws in pocket and life vest nearby. To learn how to make and use ice rescue claws, see www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/claws.html.