Usually at this time I write about the opening of fishing for men and boys in the family. Whether it’s the renewed camaraderie, the idea that spring has finally arrived, the drooling anticipation of rambling shits and northern fights, the smell and feel of the campfire, the sounds of music emanating from outdoor speakers attached to somewhere inside the garage, the taste of Saturday night grilled chicken, all of the above, or something else playing in my head, c t’s a nice kick-off for the summer.
Instead, I would like to respond to an article from the April 15, 2022 issue of the Star Tribune. In it, author Tony Kennedy discusses the issue of human biowaste left on the ice by winter fishers on Minnesota’s most popular lakes. Yes, I’m talking about human excrement! Yet it is more than that.
According to the article, the Upper Red Lake Association’s Keep It Clean committee is already looking ahead to next winter when it plans to “harvest” about 3,000 pounds of human waste through a landfill campaign. There are no typos here: one lake, one winter, 3,000 pounds of human waste. Of course, the dumpster campaign will be costly and its success will require hard work and wide buy-in from fishermen.
Don’t think for a moment that the problem only exists on Red Lake. Members of the Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods associations are also discussing the issue. In fact, the article states that this “trio of lakes have formed an alliance to expand the Keep it Clean initiative launched 10 years ago on Lake of the Woods when tons of ice fishing trash washed up in the spring. “.
To further quantify the problem, the article states that “at Upper Red Lake, the DNR estimated 85,000 ice fishing nights during the winter of 2020-21.” One lake, one winter. In Lake of the Woods County, “the increase in winter walleye fishing is reflected in the county’s waste tonnage.”
Kennedy writes that the county’s five-year monthly average is 225,000 tons, but “harvests spike in January, when ice fishermen far outnumber the county’s population.” The record garbage transport took place in January 2020, at 350,000 tons. Last winter it was 330,000 tonnes. A month. A count.
Obviously, not all of this trash is human feces, and not all of it is left on frozen lakes by ice fishermen. However, the numbers reflect the amount of waste generated by those who use the lakes for recreation and the pressure on resort owners and waste haulers to dispose of it responsibly.
Those who fish on the ice invest huge sums of money to buy vehicles and equipment. Those who stay on the lake for days or weeks at a time take on an expanded responsibility for their waste. However, even those of us who drag our laptops around for a few hours, or rent a resort owner’s cabin for a 12 or 24 hour period, are responsible for the proper disposal of the waste we generate.
True athletes care about the health of our lakes, the purity of our water, the future of fishing and the well-being of our environment. Our responsibility extends to open water fishing, hunting, hiking in our parks and riding on bike and mountain bike trails. In my opinion, we can all take our cans, bottles, food wraps, lunch bags, ammo boxes, bait containers and lure wraps with us when we get home.
That’s what you should do.
LOREN BRABEC is a contributing sportswriter for the Isanti-Chisago County Star and author of several Braham sportsbooks. He can be contacted at [email protected], Attn: Loren Brabec.