Currently, boat trailer traffic crosses Grouse Road when launching and retrieving at the access. The new access will also comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In 2013, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased a house and landing stage next to the existing public access to expand the entire site. The house was once owned by Fred and Polly Boggs.
David Schotzko, regional supervisor of the Parks and Trails Division, said the project will be completed in several phases.
Construction began on July 26 on the new parking lot and much of the proposed new launch pad.
The existing boat launch will remain open until September 7, Schotzko said, and then it will be closed and rebuilt over the next three weeks. The construction of the ADA parking area will also take place during this third phase.
During the week of October 4, all areas of the facility will be reopened to the public.
Paving, the final phase of the project, will be completed in spring 2022.
Schotzko said the DNR was working closely with the Big Sand Lake Association (BSLA) and resorts because they feared losing customers during shutdowns.
Kent Skaar is Senior Project Manager for the Parks and Trails Division of MNR, based in Bemidji with Schotzko.
In a December 2020 letter to the BSLA, he wrote that MNR understands that, “given that this is the only public access to water in Big Sand Lake, its closure for a period of time may have substantial impacts on residents, non-residents and commercial access / use. In circumstances like this, where there is a single public facility providing boating access to an individual lake, the Parks and Trails Division consistently places emphasis on limiting construction and closure to the period. shorter and ensuring that the facility is open at the end of the navigation season for private seasonal equipment pickups.
Skaar wrote, “MNR’s current design proposal will confine the launch and retrieval of pleasure craft within the boundaries of dedicated public water access, isolated from Grouse Road.
He noted that the existing launch pad “is not ADA compliant, containing surface slopes that exceed indications and can only be addressed with full reconstruction.”
In a June 2021 newsletter, BSLA President Don Kinlander expressed dismay that “many great, beautiful and white pines have gone missing” from the Boggs property.
Kinlander thanked the 56 BSLA members who “sent 216 emails to the DNR and lawmakers expressing their feelings on the need and timing of the ramp rebuilding.”