Lake Minnetonka conservation board mulls proposal to limit wakes

A man wakesurfs behind a boat as passengers watch.
Professional wakesurfer Noah Flegel surfs behind a wakeboat Friday, July 19, on Lake Minnetonka in Mound, Minn. Unlike wakeboarding, wakesurfers ride the waves of a boat's wake, rather than be pulled.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2019

Large waves created by boats for surfing or wakeboarding may lead to new rules on Lake Minnetonka.

Wake boats are designed to create waves large enough to ride or do flips. But some homeowners, kayakers and canoeists see the boats as dominating a space that they say should be better shared.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District will take public comment in a Wednesday evening hearing on a proposal which aims to find a compromise. It would set a speed limit of five miles per hour or less within 300 feet of the shoreline.

Rick Atherton, who lives on the big west metro lake, wishes the proposal would go a little further.

"I understand the enjoyment that they get from this and I don't want to limit that activity,” he said. “I just want to say if you're causing damage, if you're a dominant activity that hurts others, then follow the science, move to the deep water and enjoy the sport."

Atherton says waves from these kinds of boats cause erosion along the shoreline, stir up sediment and make the smaller bays harder for other people to use and enjoy.

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Vickie Schleuning, the executive director of the conservation district, says there's a balance they're trying to strike.

"It's really, with all the variety of uses, we want everybody to be able to enjoy the lake, and to do it, enjoy it safely and also protect the lake to make sure that it remains healthy for generations to come,” she said.

Wake boat enthusiasts say they should be able to enjoy the lake like anyone else and say they’re being unfairly maligned while other large boats have not gotten the same scrutiny they have.

The conservation district board will continue to take public input and is likely to make a decision on the issue in August.