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Letter: City should support Friends of Lake Bemidji

The Turtle River Watershed board voted unanimously last Tuesday evening to support Syd Corrigan and Friends of Lake Bemidji in their modest request for city funds to hire more Aquatic Invasive Species inspectors for Lake Bemidji. We think Councilman (Roger) Hellquist's observation that "50 percent of the shoreline of Lake Bemidji is outside the city limits" is very territorial and short-sighted. If the residents of Bemidji aren't concerned enough to fund inspection for Lake Bemidji, who should be? Owatonna? Red Wing? Duluth?

We do not think the economic impact of AIS infestation in our lakes has been truly appreciated in spite of all the recent publicity and news coverage. It may be premature to hit the panic button, but it is not too soon to begin vigorous inspection efforts to prevent AIS from impacting our lakes. Spending $10,000 or $20,000 now to invest in our water quality, property values and tourism does not seem at all unreasonable to us.

Furthermore, surrounding lakes and watersheds will also be seriously impacted if Lake Bemidji becomes infested. We are all heavily invested in keeping our lakes free of AIS, not just the residents of Bemidji.

And yes, as Mr. Hellquist suggests, the "state should do more" but if and until that happens the problem falls to all of Beltrami County and the city of Bemidji to protect our future water quality. We of the Turtle River Watershed fully support the Friends of Lake Bemidji in their reasonable request for funding.

Robert Thompson

On behalf of the Turtle River Watershed Board