Are Lazy Idiots Gonna Kill Minnesota’s Lakes?
I have canoed, kayaked, boated, camped, and hiked the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The 1-million acre BWCAW is intertwined with over 1200 miles of canoe routes composed of lakes and rivers connected by portage trails.
As of 1999, about 75% of the BWCA's water area was reserved for non-motorized boat travel.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 made the BWCAW a unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System. In 1978 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act established the Boundary Waters regulations much as they are today with motors allowed only on a few large entry point lakes.
Spending time in the BWCAW is like no other experience you will find anywhere else in the world. It's like going back in time where you have no electricity, no mororization, no city lights, no cell phones...you get the idea.
While I realize a wilderness camping adventure is not for everyone, it is for about 180,000 visitors to the Boundary Waters every year. It is becoming very apparent that human pressure has deteriorated or destroyed many of the worlds nature areas.
It would be a sad thing to see human carelessness, and lack of attention to this threat, contribute to the devastation of any of Minnesota's lakes. It is human laziness and irresponsibility that has brought the non-native Mussel to the lakes of Minnesota. And it would be those same actions that would allow the Zebra Mussels to get a foothold in the BWCAW.
According to minnesotawaters.org:
These mussels are originally from the Black and Caspian Sea areas in Russia. They have spread throughout much of Europe and Asia over the past 200 years. They were likely brought to North America in the ballast water in cargo freighters and were discovered in Lake Erie in 1988.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting:
Zebra mussels have been found clustered on an aluminum can in an isolated lake in northeastern Minnesota, a leap of possibly 70 miles for the invasive species to within shouting distance of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Zebra Mussels multiple rapidly and can eat so much food that there may not be enough left for other aquatic animals such as fish and native mussels. They attach themselves to things by the thousands and can cause serious problems for utilities, industries, and other water users. They could effectively devastate a lakes ecosystem.
It is illegal to travel on a public road in Minnesota with zebra mussels attached to a boat or trailer, or to have live zebra mussels in your possession. But some people are not taking the time to check the boats and trailers for mussels. Hence they get transported from lake to lake and are allowed to proliferate.
I have a lot of great memories of great adventures in the wilderness of northern Minnesota. I would hate to think that some peoples inconsiderate laziness could screw future generations out of the same opportunity.