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No-wake zone expansion recommended would include back channel (09/10/2003)
By Amanda Romaine
The Recreation and Waterways Commission of the City of Winona will recommend to the city council an extension of the no-wake zone on the main channel and back waters of the Mississippi River.

At their meeting on August 27, the commission heard the concerns of members of the Winona Boathouse Association (WBA) about the no-wake zone. The council had asked the commission to consider the expansion of the no-wake zone.

Twelve members of the WBA attended to voice their concerns. Members pointed out to the commission the location of approximately 60 boathouses along the north side of Latsch Island and expressed concern that the back channel was being used to avoid the no-wake zone in the main channel.

Large wakes are causing damage to the boathouses and create an unsafe environment for the children, according to members of the WBA in attendance at the commission meeting.

The commission recommended an expansion of the length and width of the no-wake zone. Fred Foss, chair of the commission, explained that the recommendation would widen the no-wake zone from the Levee, across Latsch Island into the back channel to Aghaming Park. This would be the entire main and back channel width.

The length expansion recommendation came in two parts, the main channel and the back channel.

"The present no-wake zone is mainly to protect the Levee tie ups," Foss said.

The recommendation in the main channel would be a considerable extension according to Foss. The no-wake zone would be extended up-river to the cut for the back channel or the most up-river point of Latsch Island and down-river to the north-south line 100 feet down-river from the East End Boat Harbor.

The recommended no-wake zone in the back channel would begin at the Interstate Bridge and continue to the same north-south line 100 feet past the East End Boat Harbor.

Foss indicated that this extension would also protect the city's municipal marina.

The Mississippi can be patrolled by the Winona County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand indicated that with county budget cuts there isn't enough manpower to patrol the waters now.

"It's not going to be 100% (no-wake) no matter how long you make it (the zone), " said Brand. He compared it to speeding violations saying that people still speed if they don't see a patrol car and therefore will still make a wake if they don't see any patrol.

"People who respect the river will do accordingly," said Brand.

Brand indicated that the officers patrolling the river don't just concentrate on the no-wake zone. They travel as far up-river as Minneiska and as far down-river as Dresbach, although they focus on the area around Winona.

Brand said that the two of the buoys marking the existing no-wake zone aren't in place. One of them drifted into a grove of trees and is unattainable and the another is missing.

The Recreation and Waterways Commission recommendation will go to the Winona City Council. If they accept the recommendation or a variation of it they will then forward it to the Winona County Board of Commissioners. If the county accepts the recommendation the county would write and enforce the ordinance. 


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