Sheriff Joel Brott is closing Big Lake and Mitchell Lake, located within the City of Big Lake to cars, trucks and SUV’s effective Thursday February 16, 2012.
According to Sheriff Brott, we are experiencing increasing unpredictable lake ice conditions due to unseasonably warm weather this winter. This year, two ATV’s have broken through the ice on area lakes. During the early evening hours on February 12, 2012, an SUV broke through the ice on Big Lake. The rear portion of the vehicle broke through and became partially submerged. All three occupants crawled from open windows of the SUV onto the ice surface. Minutes later the vehicle broke completely through and fell to the bottom of the lake in 25 feet of water. No one was injured. The ice was only seven inches thick were the SUV broke through. Only yards away, the ice is a foot thick. This shows the highly variable changes in ice thickness over a relatively short distance on Big Lake.
Due to the increasingly unpredictable ice conditions on Big Lake, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office is prohibiting the use of cars, trucks, and SUV’s on Big Lake and Lake Mitchell in the City of Big Lake. Access points to Big Lake and Lake Mitchell will close effective Thursday, February 16th, 2012 and will remain closed until further notice. It is unsafe to drive on these two lakes and the channel between them. This restriction applies to cars, trucks, and SUV’s. Enforcement will begin on Thursday, February 16, 2012.
Recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATV’s will be allowed on Big Lake and Lake Mitchell. People walking, fishing, and operating snowmobiles and ATV’s on Big Lake and Lake Mitchell should use extreme caution due to thin ice. This includes the channel between the two lakes due to the flowing water.
Minnesota State Statute 86B.106 gives the County Sheriff the authority to prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on all or portions of the county’s lakes. Deputies may issue a citation to violators under subsection (b) as they deem necessary. We will allow time between now and Thursday February 16, 2012 for people to remove their vehicles from the ice, and to remove the larger fish houses with wheels that need a motor vehicle to pull them from the ice. For extenuating circumstances on a case by case basis after February 16th that may require motor vehicle access to Big Lake and Lake Mitchell, please contact the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office at 763-765-3595.