Minnesota boaters may find crowded boat accesses and a shortage of trailer parking over holiday weekends warned a state fishing organization, MN-FISH.
“There is one big reason for the access problems,’’ said MN-FISH president Ron Schara. “While state boat registrations have grown to more than 830,000 craft, the Legislature has consistently failed to give DNR needed funding to upgrade existing boat ramps or create new ones.”
Currently, there is only 1,900 public boat ramps providing access to state waters. Since 2011, only six new boat ramps have been added, while motorize watercraft registrations grew by nearly 30,000.
We need to invest in more and better boat accesses.
Minnesota ranks second in the country in boat ownership; it’s also home to several leading boat and pontoon manufacturers including Alumacraft, Lund, Polaris, Premier and others.
Limited parking is the biggest issue on busy weekends as many ramps were built when most Minnesotans were fishing from boats measuring 16 feet or less, not the larger models popular today. Recently, the DNR has limited parking for organized events using boat ramps on Gull Lake in response to frustrated locals finding existing ramps too small to handle the number of boaters wanting access to the lake.
Schara said MN-FISH lobbied the Legislature to pass two bonding bills, including $37 million to upgrade boat accesses, and $60 million to modernize the state’s antiquated fish hatchery system. Both measures died when lawmakers failed to pass a bonding bill.
“Minnesota has some of the most amazing lakes in the country, but the state refuses to reinvest in the resource and that is substantially impacting the quality of the fishing/boating experience,” said Mark Holsten, MN-FISH executive director. “Given the importance of fishing/boating culturally and economically, that’s a mistake.”
Sportfishing is a multi-billion-dollar industry in Minnesota, supporting more than 28,000 jobs and generating $4.4 billion annually in economic impact, making it one of the largest industries in the state.
Most public boat ramps are owned by the state of Minnesota.