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Vehicle restriction on Upper Red Lake set to lift Wednesday

Jan. 9—WASKISH — Authorities are set to lift the

vehicle restriction on Upper Red Lake

that was put in place on Dec. 30 for the safety of anglers and rescue personnel after several ice rescue incidents.

After officials carefully monitored ice conditions over the weekend, the restriction will be lifted effective at sunrise on Wednesday, Jan. 10, as colder weather and calmer winds have allowed the ice conditions to improve.

According to a release from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the vehicle restrictions were primarily put in place due to moving ice that would separate from the ice connected to shore, requiring the need to rescue stranded anglers.

Recent aerial observations have shown Upper Red Lake to have finally iced over and the ice that was shifting and causing the open water has locked up, leaving little room for the ice to shift, the release said.

The ice assessment team used those aerial observations, ground observations, measurements and input from local guides and resort operators in making their decision to lift the restriction.

"The lifting of this restriction does not mean that the ice on Upper Red Lake, or any area lake, is 'safe' or has consistent thickness and integrity — ice can never be considered 100% safe," the release said. "Whether you walk or operate vehicles on the ice, check the thickness and quality frequently. Follow the advice of area experts and check with local resorts. Recent snowfall has made it difficult to see areas with poor ice."

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends the following ice thickness of new clear ice, and double the thickness for white ice (do not include snow or slush in your measurement):

* 4 inches — Foot traffic and walking.

* 5 to 7 inches — Snowmobiles and small ATVs.

* 7 to 8 inches — Side-by-side ATVs.

* 9 to 10 inches — Small cars or SUVs.

* 13 to 17 inches — Trucks.

* 20 inches or more — Heavy-duty trucks and wheelhouses.

"Imposing restrictions on Upper Red Lake was not an easy decision, it impacted many people and their livelihoods as well as inconvenienced those who wanted to enjoy fishing on the lake," Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs said in the release. "Those inconveniences proved to be necessary in the interest of public safety due to the number of ice rescues and people becoming stranded. Since imposing the vehicle restriction, my office has not had to respond to one ice rescue on Upper Red Lake. I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation."

Businesses that assisted in messaging by posting signs may remove them after Tuesday, Jan. 9.