Much of Minnesota is approaching extreme drought conditions

As water levels continue to drop due in many areas to drought, boaters are experiencing significant issues with launching and retrieving boats, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

DNR crews are repairing and extending many boat launch ramps to provide boating opportunities in these low-water conditions. However, little can be done to fix boat ramps on naturally shallow lakes or in places where power loading has caused holes that are too deep to fix with equipment.

“Boat ramps that were damaged by power loading provide not only a challenge to launching, but can also result in damage to boats, motors and trailers,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR’s statewide water recreation program lead. “Boaters should always use caution and check the ramp and water levels before launching.”

The DNR is encouraging shoreland homeowners who have seasonally docked watercraft to monitor water levels frequently and keep their eye on the available boat removal options for their waterbody. If options are limited, boaters should consider removing their watercraft earlier than usual, before conditions worsen. Assistance may also be available from lake service providers with the capability to remove watercraft using larger commercial equipment.

Boaters also should be aware of new obstructions in the water, such as rocks, stumps and sand bars that may not typically be an issue but are now creating hazards due to low water levels.

Visit the DNR website for boat launching maps and information about power loading.