Minnesota – “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and Several New Boat Access Sites
By Joanna Gilkeson
Minnesota is home to over 12,000 freshwater lakes of over 10 acres in size and holds more lakes than any other state. Waterways include the well-known Boundary Waters, the Mississippi River, Lake Superior and Lake Vermilion, which is also known as the “Lake of the Sunset Glow” to the Ojibwe people.
Vermillion's Moccasin Point. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
With such outstanding natural resources, it is only fitting that Minnesota also has the highest boat registration per capita in the U.S. and ranks second in registered boats, with 817,996 boats as of 2012.
To meet the demand of recreational boaters, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is working to develop and reconstruct several boat access sites located throughout the state. One of these renovations will take place at Lake Vermilion's Moccasin Point public access site in northeastern Minnesota.
Lake Vermilion is a 40,557 acre lake in St. Louis County, Minnesota. The Lake allows for non-motorized and motorized recreation, and has 1,200 miles of shoreline and 365 islands, making this an ideal lake for improved boating access.
The access point will receive a complete reconstruction and expansion, with construction beginning in fall of 2013 and continuing into the summer of 2014. A majority of improvements to the site will be funded by a grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program. Minnesota state funds will also contribute to a wide barge ramp that will allow large barges to dock at Moccasin Point and will allow barges with construction materials to access the area and surrounding islands.
Before Moccasin Point was acquired by the state in 2008, it was home to a resort. The location is conveniently located at the end of a County Road 77 (Moccasin Point Road) ensuring that it is accessible to all recreationists. Moccasin Point was acquired by the Department of Natural Resources, with funds from the Service's Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration grant program to improve and reconstruct the boat access site. This year, the Service approved another grant that will allow the Minnesota DNR to redevelop and improve the 6.1 acre access site.
Currently, the site is made up of a gravel and grass parking lot. Visitors will be able to use the informal access site until July 4, 2014 when full-scale development is scheduled to begin. It is expected that reconstruction will last for the rest of the summer.
Once demolition of the existing building is finished, the new and improved boating site will be completed and feature designated parking areas, ADA compliant facilities, improved shoreline and stormwater management, and renovations to boat launch and docking facilities.
The redesigned area will also help to improve traffic flow and reduce vehicle speeds in the area. Upon completion, Moccasin Point will welcome canoes, kayaks, anglers, and other recreational boaters with easy access to Lake Vermilion and the surrounding islands.
Minnesota lake goers can also expect several additional boating access sites in the next few years, including West Newton Public Access site along the Mississippi River in Kellogg, and South Lindstrom Lake Boat Water Access near Lindstrom. These projects are also funded through grants from the Service's Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program.