Sink-A-Ship ventures to Grand Rapids
On Monday the 15th of April, 2002, four members of the sink-a-ship committee took a day off from work and attended the monthly meeting of the DNR Regional Managers in Grand Rapids Minnesota. Our goal was to introduce ourselves and to meet the Region 2 DNR people who we expect to work with to intentionally sink a vessel of considerable size on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Admittedly, we expected a warm welcome to begin a lively discussion about the somewhat, off the beaten path idea of making an underwater park attraction for SCUBA Divers. We were given a half-hour to say our piece and then it was opened up for questions and comments. Our audience was polite and a few had a glimmer of interest in the prospects during the presentation. After all, Minnesota is not a terribly large group of enthusiastic divers who are craving a new dive site. When it was time to open the floor for the discussion, our 16 DNR audience members were relatively quiet.
The Manager from Division of Waters, explained that the primary goal of the DNR was to “improve” the habitat and waterways by way of regulation with regard to both what goes in and what activities go on in the waters of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Generally from the DNR perspective, intentionally putting a large or small vessel on the bottom of a lake in the state is contrary to their philosophy.
We understand that the goal of the DNR is to protect our lakes and rivers, but we need to make a strong case to them that Divers are Sports Enthusiast too! It will be an essential step in the Sink-A-Ship process to prove that anything we sink will be properly cleaned and will be safely placed for the divers who will go enjoy the attraction. Many Minnesotans are Sports People who hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors by using various modes of transportation like boats, 4-wheelers and snow machines. The DNR is heavily involved in providing appropriate spaces and regulations for those outdoor activities. Therefore, we need to ask, what is so bad about putting a large steel boat in approximately 100 feet of water for divers to frequent? If it were clean and safe, what would be the real hang up against the process?
One guess might be that it is just a case of we are not used to thinking about recreating beneath the surface of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Again it is the apprehension about trying something new. We may need to start a letter writing campaign by all of you the Membership of the GLSPS. If we get on the stick, maybe we can get the support of our governor the Navy SEAL.
Regardless, the trip up to Grand Rapids was worth the effort to give the DNR a heads up that this tenacious bunch of SCUBA DIVERS are going to make a solid attempt to get what we are asking for. We need a new attraction to dive on and we will have to fight for the cause.
By Ron Johnson and Bob Olson