Ever since I purchased a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) early in 2012 I have been visiting and enjoying many of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Public Accesses in and around Alexandria, Minnesota. They really do a fantastic job and the public is very lucky to have them nearby and in great quantity. One of my favorites is at the northwest end of Lake Burgen in Alexandria. I like it for a variety of reasons. First, I can get to it and from it quickly from my office at the corner of Broadway and Third Avenue so it is possible for me to get out for a quick 45-60 minute paddle when I have some free time. Perfect for exercise and relaxation. Second, the size of the lake is perfect for SUP-ing. In less than an hour I can paddle the entire shoreline of the lake on a not too windy day. I should note that it also appears to be the perfect size for other recreational watercraft as there usually is skiing and other activity. Yet, it remains fairly serene. And, the lake is clean. Third, the location is killer. I finish paddling and enjoy sitting on a long shoreline of sand with nothing but sand out in front. Really, really nice.
Now the downside. It is a long, private drive off of Hazel Hill Road into this access that is directly south of the Lake Victoria Public Access. The long drive is not the downside but being hidden is the downside. Each time I visit the Burgen Public Access there are others that are stopping by not to use the access. Some come to let their kids swim go for a swim or for their dog to have some fun. Some come to enjoy a smoke or some fast food during a lunch break. Others come to enjoy a beverage regardless of the time. None of these are wrong as long as a law isn’t broken and as long as each is considerate of others. There are quite a few that aren’t. I am making this observation not only by what I have seen but by what I have picked up.
Last Friday afternoon, I couldn’t believe what was on the ground and at the shoreline when I arrived at the Burgen Access. There are no trash cans but it is still no excuse. Cans, bottles, bags, etc. were prevalent. I made a mental note to bring a bag for my next visit.
The following day I pulled in early to spend an hour on my board on Burgen as it was a scorcher. What I found at the access was worse than 24 hours earlier. What was shocking/disappointing was when I started picking up everything that had been thoughtlessly left. My bag was filled within 20 minutes and must have weighed more than 5 pounds. Broken glass led the way to the dock and I also found more than a few used diapers, plenty of beer cans (not very good beer), soda pop cans, fast food bags, lollipop sticks and even a t-shirt. Someone was evidently grilling as well as they dispersed their used charcoal just north of the broken glass leading to the dock.
It all really saddened me. Like anything, it is probably a small percentage of the users that are leaving the mark but of course are making the greatest mark. I hope someone in law enforcement reads this and sends a patrol to this location on a Friday or Saturday evening.
I emailed the MN DNR about possibly developing an adoption program. Public thoroughfares get adopted by citizens or organizations to keep them clean. Why couldn’t the same be done with our Public Accesses? Most of the DNR Public Accesses have Biffy’s and garbage cans but a lot still ends on the ground. What do you think?