PUBLIC ACCESS COMMITTEE
LAKE MOVIL PUBLIC ACCESS - Task committee meeting notes. Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 3:30 p.m. at the Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji, MN.
Northern Township Board Chairman Mike Kelly opened the meeting with a short introduction, and noted that Board Supervisor Jess Frenzel would moderate the meeting. Other committee members in attendance were; Jamin Carlson from the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Office, Jerry Pickett who is a township resident, Lee Warne, Bill Joyce and Muriel Gilman, live along the southern portion of Lake Movil, Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer, Gary Barnard from DNR Fisheries, David Schotzko from DNR Trails and Waterways, and Mark Fuller from Freeberg & Grund Engineering. Others who were invited by not present were a representative from the Turtle Lake Township Board of Supervisors and someone from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department.
The purpose of this meeting was to bring together some of the entities and people who have interests in the possible development of this property as a public access to Lake Movil. The property is located along the southern shore of Lake Movil on S. Movil Lake Road. It was purchased by Northern Township after it had been listed For Sale for a number of years, and then the price reduced. The property is adjacent to an existing 10 ft. platted public access that is managed by Northern Township, which has since been vacated and combined with the purchased property. The hope of the Township Board is to develop the property into some sort of a useable public access, using input from several resources. There are some limitations on the property due to the size (approximately 105' x 200'+), wetland area, water depth, etc.
Hoefer asked the reasons why this concept started, and Kelly explained that there had been interest by some individuals and entities to establish a public access on Lake Movil for reasons such as; 1) ability to access the lake for public safety, 2) public access to the lake, 3) expand an otherwise unusable adjacent 10 ft. public access, and 4) property was being trespassed on in order to access the lake.
Barnard reported that fisheries management is limited at this time on what they can do on Lake Movil due to their lack of ability to access it. Their legislative authority is difficult without having direct access to a lake. Also, property acquisition for a public access is much more difficult for the DNR than it is for townships, and their funds are very limited for purchasing property for them.
Schotzko added that they have been looking at different properties for public access, but nothing has been available due to demand and costs, with opportunity being important. Winter access to Lake Movil is a high priority due to the fact that the channel from Big Turtle Lake is not safe during the winter. Common sense will determine what types of uses can occur at the site as it relates to the size of watercraft. He will often put up 'canoe use only' signs at certain locations, but that does not limit what type of watercraft can actually use it.
Fuller has looked at the property and has supplied a draft diagram of what might fit onto the lot. This diagram is mostly for reference, since some of the impracticalities would have to be addressed.
Kelly indicated that he did wade out into the lake and the shore-land area consists of mostly lily pads, bull rushes, cattails, with a mucky bottom. When he reached hip depth, the bottom was pretty solid. He noted that where someone has been pulling in small boats/canoes, the bottom is starting to firm up and believes it would continue with some use. He added that there is no intent to dredge the beach at this point, feeling that use would create a more solid bottom over time.
Hoefer stated that he would like to see some sort of site for emergency access, with a stable driving surface being important. Water extractions are important since there are none close by that area, along with needs for water shuttling operations, such as their hover-craft unit, etc. Shortening a response time is vital and they would prefer not to use personal driveways. Anything is better than what they presently have, adding that they would prefer a turn-around area but they would deal with a back-in access also.
Carlson added that the technical review panel has been out there, and a wetland delineation would be required. Once a plan has been submitted, reviewed and approved, by the Corp of Engineers, DNR, and Beltrami County SWCD, a Conditional Use Permit would be required from the JPB. Variances might also be needed if the impervious surface restrictions aren't met.
Gilman questioned run-off and Fuller stated that there had been considerations made on his draft, with retention areas and saving as many trees as possible. Curb/gutter help with directing runoff to the desired areas and solid surfaces help deter driving and parking area sprawl. She stressed water quality and invasive species being a big concern, along with winter use and vehicles carrying salt, sand, chemicals, etc. The intent is to have a winter access, with Schotzko adding that no access is ever completely safe in the winter, but it can't be forbidden.
Barnard doesn't know if anyone would maintain an ice road on the lake, but usually snowfall limits that type of use. He added that the lake is a natural resource and fishing it is not detrimental to it. There are ways to put limits on fish if there are noticed reductions in stock. He also believes that accesses are usually self-limiting for use, thinking that this site might be more suited for the 14-16 ft. boat and smaller.
Joyce and Gilman feel that the pushback from the residents along the lake is that the proposed access is not in keeping with the neighborhood and that it would be squeezed in. Kelly indicated that the intent is to impact the area as little as possible, but to be able to utilize the site for the purposes stated. There is no intent to allow parking on S. Movil Lake Road, but it is the road authority that would regulate it. Law enforcement would be the ones who enforce the restriction, but no one was present to speak to that issue.
It was agreed that the conversation would continue with the next meeting being set for Tuesday, August 27th, at 3:30 p.m. The DNR Hydrologist and Beltrami County Law Enforcement would be asked to attend.