DNR urges caution on area lakes

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
(File photo)

Iowa DNR officers will still be checking for up-to-date registrations and fully-charged fire extinguishers even if waters in the Iowa Great Lakes aren't as congested as usual for the holiday weekend.

Highs will be close to 70 degrees Saturday, Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

"We may see fewer boaters out with the cool forecast, but it will still be plenty busy on the water," said Susan Stocker, a boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Boaters should review Iowa boating laws and plan to have patience at the ramp and on the water. Stocker said boaters should make sure lifejackets are in good condition and the right size for each person onboard. Steve Griebel, a State Conservation Officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, agrees.

"A child's life jacket isn't adequate for a 250-pound person and vice versa," he said.

Iowa's more than 220,000 registered boat operators should check all equipment including the fire extinguisher, boat and trailer lights, whistle, and throwable floatation.

Griebel would add "designated driver" to the checklist.

"We want everyone to have fun, but we want them to come home," he said. "The effects of the wind and the sun and the waves -- you don't really realize how intoxicated you are in many cases. It doesn't cause more intoxication, but you don't feel the effects when you're out on the water. When you get back to shore and they always say you've got to 'get your sea legs back,' well, there's some truth to that. You don't realize it when everything's moving versus being on the ground."

The DNR also reminded boaters to drain plugs and throughly clean their vessels to avoid the spread of aquatic invasive species.

"This week I have started hearing complaints about curly leaf pond weed," said Phil Petersen, executive director of the Iowa Great Lakes Association. "It is a weed that blooms at this time of year and runs along the surface of shallow lakes. This weed can get so thick is difficult for boats to get through."

Petersen said problem areas include East Lake Okoboji above the bridge, Upper Gar, and Lower Gar. Dickinson County Supervisors Pam Jordan and Mardi Allen also have received complaints.

"This is an aquatic invasive species that probably takes third place behind Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels," Petersen said. "The curly leaf pond weed is expanding right now, but dies back by midsummer - causing us to stop thinking about it -- and then it is back the following year."

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