Keep It Clean Bill at MN State Legislature
Perhaps you have hear of Keep It Clean. The program educates, promotes and enforces keeping trash and human waste off of the ice. It all started more than 10 years ago when the group Friends of Zippel Bay State Park did their annual spring beach clean up. With the winds blowing in just the right direction, the group collected five trailers full of garbage. What would have happened to that garbage if the wind wasn’t just right? This is one small part of the lake, what about the rest of the lake? What about the garbage that doesn’t float? Something had to be done.
A group of stakeholders from the Lake of the Woods area joined together and created Keep It Clean. Members include Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District, Lake of the Woods Tourism, different departments of Lake of the Woods County, Roseau County, and DNR Fisheries and Enforcement. The group has been active with numerous endeavors with a goal of keeping trash and human waste off of Lake of the Woods.
Fast forward 10 year later and other areas have joined the Keep It Clean efforts. Upper and Lower Red Lake and Mille Lacs Lake, Lake Vermilion and eventually many others. There are now various organizations from around the state that have joined the group.
There is growing support for the movement including the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, MN DNR, MPCA, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers, lakeshore associations, destinations, and more.
To help people better understand the issue and challenge at hand, well known TV host and now President of MN-Fish, Ron Schara, created a nice video for the Keep It Clean effort.
Where does legislation come in? Some people flat out, don’t care about leaving behind garbage and waste. Some care but aren’t very careful. Others really care, but things happen. With more and more people spending the nights out on our frozen lakes and in some cases, rivers, things happen. Well meaning people might set a few things outside the fish house door, fully intending on picking them up before they depart. With high winds, below zero temps, snow events, warm bags freezing into the ice, birds getting into garbage, etc, etc, trash is ultimately left behind.
The two bills being proposed with wide support across the state are HF2745 & SF2789 (HF = House File, SF = Senate File). The Short Description: Deposit of waste prohibited outside a shelter, motor vehicle, or any other conveyance on ice of state waters; and report on options for funding additional enforcement of laws on ice of state waters required.
Here is HF 2745 as it is currently written:
A bill for an act
relating to game and fish; prohibiting deposit of waste outside a shelter, motor
vehicle, or any other conveyance on the ice of state waters; requiring report on
options for funding additional enforcement of laws on ice of state waters; amending
Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 97C.355, by adding a subdivision; proposing
coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 97C.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 97C.355, is amended by adding a subdivision
Subd. 9. Placing waste on ice prohibited. A person using a fish house, dark house, or
other shelter on the ice of state waters is subject to section 97C.363.
Sec. 2. [97C.363] STORING GARBAGE AND OTHER WASTE ON ICE.
Subdivision 1. Prohibition. A person using a shelter, a motor vehicle, or any other
conveyance on the ice of state waters may not deposit garbage, rubbish, cigarette filters,
debris from fireworks, offal, the body of a dead animal, litter, sewage, or any other waste
outside the shelter, motor vehicle, or conveyance unless the material is:
(1) placed in a container that is secured to the shelter, motor vehicle, or conveyance;
(2) not placed directly on the ice or in state waters.
Subd. 2. Definition. For purposes of this section, “sewage” means excrementitious or
other discharge from the bodies of human beings or animals, together with such other water
as may be present.
Subd. 3. Penalty. A violation of this section is a petty misdemeanor, and a person who
violates this section is subject to a civil penalty of $25 for each violation.
Sec. 3. REPORT ON OPTIONS FOR FUNDING ADDITIONAL LAW
ENFORCEMENT ON ICE OF STATE WATERS.
By January 1, 2024, the commissioner of natural resources must report to the chairs and
ranking minority members of the legislative committees and divisions with jurisdiction over
environment and natural resources on options for funding additional enforcement of state
laws on the ice of state waters. The commissioner must work with the Minnesota Sheriffs’
Association and other stakeholders in generating the report, which must include options
and recommendations related to potential funding sources, funding levels, and allocation
of funding between the various enforcement agencies.
In a nutshell, if this passes, we as ice anglers and everyone using the ice, would simply no longer be placing garbage on the ice. We would keep it in our fish houses, in our vehicles or in an enclosed container. Simple enough. This alone would literally eliminate tons of garbage and waste going into our waterways.
In addition, this provides the MN DNR an opportunity to actually enforce those leaving trash and waste behind. In the past, the ways the laws are written, they were not able to enforce a situation where a bunch of trash, etc., was left behind.
If you would like to support this endeavor, please make a call or send an email to your legislator if you are in Minnesota. Find your legislator here.
Keeping trash contained and not on the ice might take a bit of retraining on how we do things, but the upside is so worth it. Please support efforts to keep trash and waste off of our ice. Remember to Keep It Clean.