Anyone on Sunfish Lake must have permission to cross private property to reach the lake.
The city of Sunfish Lake has a unique approach to discouraging people from walking across private property to get to the lake: Anyone on the lake must have a permission slip.
All lakes are considered public waters in Minnesota. But 43-acre Sunfish Lake is ringed by private estates and it has no public boat ramp.
"It's such a small lake that we don't have any public access to it," said City Council Member Mike Hovey.
The only way onto the water is over someone's property. To control trespassing, the city three years ago began requiring anyone on the lake to have a "Lake Access Permission Slip" signed by a homeowner.
"We don't want people crossing private property without permission," Hovey said.
Fewer than 10 people a year actually go to the trouble of printing a permission slip from the city website and getting it signed by a homeowner, Hovey said. Often, it's in the winter when people want to ice fish on the lake.
The city considers the slips a success because they make it easy for West St. Paul Police to patrol the lake.
When an officer finds someone on or about the lake the first thing the officer asks is "let me see your permission slip, " said West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver. If the person has one, the police may call the homeowner to verify the signature, Shaver said.
"If they don't have a permission slip, we shoo them out of there."
If they refuse to leave, they will be cited for trespassing, Shaver said.