[r51] Representative Dodge's October Column (10/12/2007)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Start Date: 10/12/2007 All Day
End Date: 10/12/2007

Northern Indiana has an abundance of lakes, which are the source of numerous economic and social benefits. Several studies have been conducted successfully arguing that lake communities enjoy increased employment, higher property values and additional recreational opportunities for tourist and residents. Because of the economic importance of lakes, it is important that we protect this precious natural resource.


I serve on the Indiana Lakes Management Works Group (LMWG), a committee that meets regularly to develop initiatives to preserve and improve our lakes. We have been researching several issues affecting Indiana's lakes such as shoreline disputes and bass fishing during spawning season so that we may develop solutions.


In northern Indiana shoreline property disputes are an ongoing problem in desperate need of legal framework. Many times, lake front property includes a small portion of the lake providing property owner easy access to the water. Property owners often use this waterfront access to build boat docks. While this seems simple enough, many times their property lines go out indefinitely at an angle into the water. Then, when property owners build a dock, if they build it straight, they inadvertently infringe on their neighbor's property. Unfortunately, there is no law regulating property boundaries in the water, leaving many residential property disputes unsettled. The LMWG is currently developing legislation to clarify confusing cases and creating new statutes to regulate dock locations. I am optimistic that the legislation will be developed and passed during the 2008 legislative session.


The LMWG is also focused on resource protection. For years, Hoosier anglers have debated fishing for bass during their spring spawning season. Many anglers are under the impression that fishing during this time does not hurt bass reproduction or future fishing quality. On the other hand, many believe that spring bass fishing should be illegal. They say taking bass off their spawning beds hurts reproduction and reduces the quality of bass fishing. The LMWG is working with biologist from the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife to balance resource needs and maximize bass fishing opportunities. Once a scientific basis for regulation is established the committee will begin working on the most appropriate legislation, if needed.   


These are just a few of the potential bills I am researching for the upcoming 2008 session. If you have any suggestions for potential legislation, I encourage you to contact me at 1-800-382-9841 or e-mail me at h51@in.gov. It is also possible to write me at 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.