This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
“All right. I'm Erika Gilsdorf. I have grown up in Minnesota since I've been born. My son is the fifth generation, I'm the fourth generation of a cottage on Pelican Lake here in, it's in Otter Tail County. As you get older, the more you see changes in lakes. What's really been, I don't know what the word is, scary, or impactful, is how much those changes are impacting your recreational use. So, our lake, we always bragged, was the lake that was clean. You could just jump in. You could swim. You could ski, you could do anything you want.
Now, your boats, because we've had invasive species, and I'm really worried about getting other invasive species in our lake with all of the rapid transfer that's happening right now. You know, people, our relatives, come to visit. Our kids come to visit, and they're complaining about, "Why are there so many weeds? Why am I swimming and there's weeds?" My nephew last summer cut his foot really bad on a zebra mussel. It's really hard to tell your kids, when they come to visit once a year, what's happened to the lake, and try and explain what's going on.
It's sad. So, hopefully, with the efforts to broaden awareness on the spread of invasive species, and what people can do, people will start taking more action. I think more and more people ... I also worked as an AIS Inspector this last two summers. I think more and more people are starting to see the impacts, and they're starting to realize, "Wow, I don't want this in my lake." So they're starting to take a little more concern and action, on what they can do, because it really has come down to what each person can do.
Unless each person takes responsibility, there is no big silver bullet, or some magic chemical, or some magic potion, or some something that's going to eradicate this. It's a matter of a lot of small actions, that's going to slow the process, prevent the spread, and help the whole situation, so our kids can enjoy the lakes like we did, and swim and not feel like the water's gross, and they need to get out.”
Asset ID #3893