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Star Lakes and Star Rivers

Published (4/25/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Lake associations that do a good job of managing the state’s water bodies could have their lakes and rivers designated “Star Lakes” and “Star Rivers,” if a bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Moe (DFL-Bemidji) becomes law.

HF3437 would permit the Board of Water and Soil Resources to grant the special designation to lakes and rivers that are governed by comprehensive, environmentally sound management plans. The House Finance Committee approved the bill April 22. It now awaits action by the full House.

Under the bill’s provisions, lake associations whose water bodies meet necessary requirements could erect signs advertising the waters as “Star Lakes” or “Star Rivers.” Moe said the bill would help lake associations market their lakes for real estate or tourism purposes while encouraging conservation.

To earn the designation, the associations’ water management plans would have to fulfill a number of criteria, including:

• helping increase native vegetation presence along shorelines;

• preventing, reducing or eliminating invasive aquatic species;

• maintaining a diverse and healthy fish population;

• mitigating water pollution and impairment; and

• involving residents and local authorities in the planning process.

The lake associations themselves would also have to meet a number of requirements, including that they participate in the Pollution Control Agency’s citizen water quality monitoring program and maintain a “membership or participation of at least 50 percent of the private shoreline owners.”

Designations would have to be renewed after five years by submitting an updated water management plan. The “Star Lakes” and “Star Rivers” signs would be furnished by the Department of Transportation, but the lake associations would have to reimburse the department for the cost of the signs.

Moe noted that the House version of the omnibus supplemental budget bill (HF1812) includes $50,000 a year for BWSR to administer the program; however, the board has claimed that the true cost of the program could be more than three times the amount provided in the bill.

A companion, SF2943, sponsored by Sen. Mary Olson (DFL-Bemidji), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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