Keep It Clean Legislation Passes… What does this mean for you

Keep It CleanAbout 10 years ago, a small group from the Lake of the Woods area began an effort to educate, promote and enforce those using Lake of the Woods in keeping trash and human waste off of the ice.  This group, of course, is called Keep It Clean.  Fast forward ten years later and today there are about 30+ areas around the state of Minnesota who have joined in on the efforts.  This expanded group has been busy behind the scenes working on a variety of efforts which will ultimately lessen the amount of trash and human waster entering our waters, the largest being the passing of the Keep It Clean bill at our most recent legislative session.

The expanded group has been working with a variety of stakeholders from Minnesota to push through legislation that will have a very positive impact on Minnesota bodies of water.  In a nutshell, starting in August, 2023, it will be illegal to place any garbage or waste on the ice.  This means all garbage will need to be kept in your fish house, your vehicle or in a garbage can attached to one of the above.  Not a big lift, but legislation that will ultimately keep tons of unsuspecting trash and waste from being left on the ice and entering our waterways.

Most ice anglers and others who use the ice for recreation in the winter months are conscientious about keeping track of their garbage and making sure they are responsible about when Mother Nature calls and they have to do number two.

With that being said, good meaning people who, as an example, spend multiple nights on the ice have good intentions.  “Let’s just set these garbage bags outside the fish house for now and we will pick them up before we leave.”  However, out on a frozen lake, things happen.  Things such as 50 mph winds, birds, bags freezing into the ice, snowfalls and simply picking up most of the garbage but leaving a bit behind.

Fish houses on ice_Sportsman's Lodge_Lake of the WoodsWith the popularity of ice fishing in today’s world, leaving just a little bit behind multiplied by tens of thousands of ice anglers, equates to tons of garbage.  This newly passed Keep It Clean bill will help to eliminate a good amount of that.  It is not a hard lift, as they would say, but a measure that will really make a positive impact on our waterways.

In addition, it helps those out of the ice to plan ahead as to where they will use the bathroom when Mother Nature calls.  If you are staying at a resort, many offer facilities out on the ice.  If you are on your own, it is important to have a realistic plan.

Lake of the Woods area has two winter pump out stations for wheelhouses who have heated holding tanks with sewage and chemicals.  This is on purpose as in the past, cold weather dump stations were lacking during the winter months.  Other areas in the state are starting to create winter dump stations in their area as well.

This legislation also provides MN DNR Conservation Officers the opportunity to enforce trash and waste issue on the ice.  In the past, the way laws were written, it was very difficult to enforce garbage left behind.

Here is the legislation as passed in the Minnesota House File (HF) 2310minnesota state capitol

205.6 Sec. 65. Minnesota Statutes 2022, section 97C.355, is amended by adding a subdivision
205.7 to read:
205.8 Subd. 9.  Placing waste on ice prohibited.  A person using a fish house, dark house, or
205.9 other shelter on the ice of state waters is subject to section 97C.363.
205.11 Subdivision 1.Prohibition.A person using a shelter, a motor vehicle, or any other
205.12 conveyance on the ice of state waters may not deposit garbage, rubbish, cigarette filters,
205.13 debris from fireworks, offal, the body of a dead animal, litter, sewage, or any other waste
205.14 outside the shelter, motor vehicle, or conveyance unless the material is:
205.15 (1) placed in a container that is secured to the shelter, motor vehicle, or conveyance;
205.16 and
205.17  (2) not placed directly on the ice or in state waters.
205.18 Subd. 2.Definition.  For purposes of this section, “sewage” means excrementitious or
205.19 other discharge from the bodies of human beings or animals, together with such other water
205.20 as may be present.
205.21 Subd. 3.Penalty.  A violation of this section is a petty misdemeanor, and a person who
205.22 violates this section is subject to a civil penalty of $100 for each violation.

propane tank on ice, Keep It CleanMost anglers and other who use the ice really do a nice job of picking up their trash.  The slogan “pack it in, pack it out” is especially known with this topic.

Many, including the many unsung heroes called ice guides across Lake of the Woods and other lakes in MN, go out of their way to pick up after others on a regular basis.  If you are one of these conscientious folks, kudos to you and thank you.

We also want to thank the many organizations and legislators who assisted and backed up this legislation.  Various legislators, a variety of people from the MN DNR, MN Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers, MN-FISH, various members of Keep It Clean across the state and others.  This is the type of legislation that makes good sense and will have a positive lasting impact on the waterways of Minnesota.  Kudos to all of you!


Learn more or sign your area up for Keep It Clean

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