December 23, 2011

Otter Tail County AIS Task Force appointments to be made on January 3, 2012



Fergus Falls, MN – Otter Tail County Commissioners, at their December 20th meeting, unanimously agreed to work in partnership with public and private agencies, volunteer organizations and individuals to reduce the threat to Otter Tail County lakes and rivers caused by aquatic invasive species.


The Commissioners recently appointed Otter Tail County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar to Chair their newly formed AIS Task Force.  Kalar was asked to provide to them at their January 3rd meeting a list of potential task force committee members and suggestions on how the task force should be structured.


“Controlling the spread of invasives, such as zebra mussels, that are already present in Otter Tail County,” said Kalar afterwards, “and preventing the introduction of new invasives is something that we all need to take responsibility for and I applaud the Otter Tail County Commissioners for providing much needed leadership.”  He adds: this is everybody’s responsibility, not those that just live on the lakes. Resorts and businesses depend on people recreating and using county lakes.  It is a critical economic component of Otter Tail County. 


Otter Tail County lakes are already seeing the impacts of zebra mussels.  Zebra mussels cling to docks, lifts, and water related equipment and they can cause boat motors to overheat.  Irrigation intake systems that draw water from lakes need to be protected to prevent them from becoming clogged by the mussels and the mere threat of their presence will cause life in and on Otter Tail County lakes to change.


When non-native species are introduced into lakes and rivers the economy and the entire eco-systems are altered.  The town of Monroe, Michigan, had no tap water for three days in 1989 after zebra mussels overran the municipal intakes.


While zebra mussels filter the lake water and make it clearer – they also deplete the food available for native fish like walleye, sunfish and bass.  When the water is filtered and becomes clearer – the sunlight reaches deeper water and more plant growth appears which in turn alters the spawning areas available for native fish. Consequently, native fish populations eventually become impacted without adequate food sources.


Jeff Stabnow, the President of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (OTC COLA) announced today his full support for Otter Tail County’s formation of an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force.


The reality is that the worst is yet to come.

“Some people wonder what all the fuss is about,” said Stabnow, “but the reality is that the worst is yet to come.”


In 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that they found the more destructive cousin to the zebra mussel in the Duluth-Superior Harbor.  First seen in the Great Lakes in 1989, quagga mussels are hardier and can live at greater depths and in colder climates than zebra mussels.  Quagga mussels are also present in the Mississippi and Lake Pepin in Minnesota.


Among other unwanted invaders, already present in Minnesota but not in Otter Tail County, are Eurasian Water Milfoil, round goby and spiny water flea to name a few. 


Under current state law, it is unlawful to transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species of animals on a public road, and/or place or attempt to place into waters of the state a boat, seaplane, or equipment that has aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited invasive species attached.


Cleaning and disinfecting water related equipment will also prevent the spread of fish diseases, such as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS). VHS has reached epidemic proportions in the Great Lakes and threatens the sport-fishing industry.

Stabnow encourages watercraft operators to know where infested waters are and remind users of public waters to take precautions when moving any watercraft, dock, boat lift or any water related equipment from lake to lake.  “We simply have to take more steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. It has changed the way we use our lakes – forever.  Protecting our lakes is very important to the future of Otter Tail County. It is everybody’s responsibility.”


For more information on Otter Tail County’s AIS Task Force and appointments, contact Land & Resource Director Bill Kalar or an Otter Tail County Commissioner.  (Website:


Stabnow also encourages the public to attend the 2012 Aquatic Invasive Species Legislative Summit that will be held from 9:00 am to noon at the Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes on January 14th.  It is open to the public at no charge and provides an opportunity for citizens to interact with their legislators.  Doors to M-State open at 8 am and attendees are welcome to come early and visit over a free continental breakfast and view the exhibits. 


The Summit is co-sponsored by many regional organizations including the Otter Tail, Becker, Douglas and Hubbard County Coalitions of Lake Associations.


“The Aquatic Invasive Species Legislative Summit held in Detroit Lakes last January was a key launching point for the legislation passed in 2011,” Minnesota COLA Collaborative and a Becker County COLA Officer Barb Halbakken-Fischburg said in a press release announcing the summit.  “The concerns expressed by Minnesotans to the legislators were heard all the way to the Capitol. In 2012, the legislators will be asked to focus on how the DNR can take more aggressive action with specific statewide programs and deadlines before it is too late to protect our state’s greatest asset – the lakes.”  She adds:  Our County governments have been forced to put together AIS programs and our Governor and Legislators need to understand the urgency of an effective statewide AIS program that addresses all invasives.



December 14, 2011

This morning, OTC COLA President Jeff Stabnow and Otter Tail County’s Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar attended the Becker County AIS Task Force Meeting.  This was the second meeting for the Becker County AIS Task Force and it is clear that the members were eager to put programs in place prior to ice out.
Last April, the OTC COLA partnered with Otter Tail County in an attempt to create a pilot watercraft inspection program in Otter Tail County funded, in part, by lake associations.  The DNR had $75,000 in funding requests and only $30,000 in funds to award.  Regrettably, the Otter Tail County application was not funded by the DNR.
I am providing some information on the County’s 2011 grant application with the hope that OTC COLA member lake associations will share this information with the Officers of their lake associations and quickly brainstorm on ways to partner with Otter Tail County in 2012.

At the end of this lengthy email, you will find today’s article as published in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

Let us know what your thoughts are.  Please include us in your communications with the county (carbon copy us on your emails, etc.,

Thank you.  Shawn Olson, Past President, OTC COLA

In 2011, Otter Tail County served as the Lead Organization and the OTC COLA served as the Partner Organization; Additional Project Partners for the 2011 DNR grant:

Otter Tail Lakes Property Owners Association
Lynn Melchior, Secretary/Treasurer
Match & Hours to be determined

Leek-Trowbridge Lake Association
Mike Jahnke, President
Match & Hours to be determined

West Battle Lake Lakeshore Association
Chad Schaefer, President
50/50 match up to 360 Hours ($2,000 Maximum)

Otter Tail County Pine Lakes Improvement District
Sylvia Soeth, Chair
50/50 match up to 100 Hours Maximum

Clitherall Lake Association
Jeff Stabnow, Director
50/50 match up to 500 Hours Maximum

Pelican Lake Property Owners Association*
Kenneth Erickson, President
*Also participated in the PGOLID Watercraft Inspection Program
50/50 match up to 500 Hours ($2,500 Maximum)

Little McDonald – Kerbs Lake Association*
Jim Nigg, Chair
*Had submitted its own grant application, if funded they would have withdrawn
50/50 match up to 500 Hours ($4,025 Maximum)

Wall Lake Association
Clair Iverson or George Stebe
Match & Hours to be determined; Interested volunteers were available

Additional project partners were to be determined.

Project Description:

Otter Tail County’s Watercraft Inspection Program would target DNR public water accesses that are known to be popular destinations for boaters leaving zebra mussel infested waters, as well as high use, popular traveler destination accesses on waters with invasive species present, such as curly-leaf pondweed, or nearby zebra mussel infested waters.

Otter Tail County proposed to:
§  Partner with the OTC COLA, Lake Associations and their citizen volunteers,
§  Pay all costs associated with inspections, including payroll for temporary/seasonal watercraft inspectors, and incidental expenses,
§  Provide supervision to inspectors, including, hiring of inspectors, scheduling, quality control of the inspection process, and any benefits offered by Otter Tail County to temporary/seasonal employees,
§  Ensure inspectors are following all policies outlined in the DNR watercraft inspector manual and ensure no changes are made to the DNR watercraft inspection process,
§  Provide survey data bi-weekly to the DNR on hand – held computers provided by he DNR,
§  Provide an accounting of inspection hours bi-weekly to the DNR,
§  Provide schedules for the upcoming two weeks bi-weekly to the DNR,
§  Have the watercraft inspectors undergo DNR watercraft inspector training,
§  Provide shirt, vest and/or cap to the watercraft inspectors that indicates that they are employees of Otter Tail County,
§  Collect the same information as the DNR watercraft inspectors,
§  Have materials the inspectors will be handing out reviewed by the MN DNR before distribution,
§  Sign inspectors up as a DNR volunteer and have background checks conducted,       
§  Obtain permission from the access administrator/owner if it is not a DNR owned access, and
§  The watercraft inspections would begin in June 1, 2011 and end on or before August 31, 2011.

Otter Tail County was interested in creating a “pilot” Watercraft Inspection Program.  If this grant had been awarded, Otter Tail County would have created a “test” watercraft inspection program that would have helped to determine if such a program could be operated by the County efficiently in the future.

Per Nathan Olson, AIS Specialist with the Fergus Falls DNR Office, these lakes in Otter Tail County have an invasive species present:

Waters designated as having zebra mussels: Bass, Crystal, Fish, Little Pelican, Lizzie, Pelican, Prairie, and the Pelican River from Fish Lake downstream to Prairie Lake.  In 2011, Rose Lake was added to the list.

Waters that contain curly-leaf pondweed: West Battle, Clitherall, Deer, Hoot, Jolly Ann, East Leaf, Leek/Trowbridge, North Lida, South Lida, Lizzie, Orwell, Otter Tail, Pelican, Big Pine, Little Pine, Rush, Swan, and North Turtle.  Infestations also present at:  East Spirit, Little Pelican and Wimer (Per Adam Doll, Invasive Species Assistant with the St. Paul DNR Office).

In addition to the above waters, there are lakes in Becker County that have flowering rush that are immediately upstream of Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County.  The lakes in Becker County that have flowering rush are: Buck (borders with Otter Tail County and also has curly-leaf pondweed), Detroit, Curfman, Melissa, Mill, Muskrat, Sallie, and the Pelican River from Detroit Lake to Muskrat Lake.

The OTC COLA has previously partnered with the County on a number of occasions; the most recent was the partnership for the production of the 24 page Otter Tail County Shoreland Guide to Lake Stewardship.  The total budget for the project exceeded $45,000 and it resulted in the distribution of 11,500 free guidebooks to Otter Tail County lakeshore owners.  Information on AIS was included in the guidebook, as well as how to “clean your boat”, etc.
County board takes action to fight invasives
Published 11:01am Wednesday, December 14, 2011 Fergus Falls Journal
The Otter Tail County Board Tuesday voted to join in the fight for more regulation and enforcement to stop the spread of invasive species in area lakes. The board also took a first step in forming a task force to develop specific ways to protect lakes in this area.
Speaking to the board on Tuesday were Jeff Stabnow, president of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) and Tera Guetter, administrator of the Pelican River Watershed District that’s based in Detroit Lakes. Collaboration between Otter Tail County and Becker County is underway to fight invasives.
“We need to act swiftly, decisively and boldly,” said Guetter. “More aggressive procedures are needed in order to successfully fight invasive species.”
Stabnow, as head of Otter Tail County’s COLA, has for several months joined with fellow members to assist and promote boat inspections at public accesses on area lakes and enhance public education of the invasive species issue.
“We not only have zebra mussels in our area lakes, but more invasives are knocking on our doors,” said Guetter. “We need to be aware of and prepare to fight Quagga mussels, Spiny waterflea, Viral hemorrhagic and Asian carp.”
County boards in both Otter Tail and Becker counties know that a zebra mussel infestation would not only have an environmental impact, but also adversely affect the quality of life in this area and tourism as well. Those are among the reasons the Otter Tail County Board voted Tuesday to encourage the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) to add aquatic invasive species to the legislation platform and lobby the Minnesota legislature for more state regulation and enforcement.
The task force in Otter Tail County, after it is formed to fight invasives, will likely have representation from county government, COLA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other entities.
“It’s great to see that Otter Tail County has agreed to form a task force,” said former COLA President Shawn Olson. “Our organization has suggested that the county take leadership in seeking grant applications, such as for DNR watercraft inspections.”
The DNR, with blasts of hot, high pressure water, hope to keep zebra mussels at bay on several Minnesota lakes, including Pelican Lake near Pelican Rapids. Earlier this year the agency unveiled its new decontamination units to remove the invasive species from boats.
State officials say it’s all part of a big push, funded by the legislature, to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.

At the June 2011 OTC COLA meeting, the General Directors passed a resolution that recommended that the Otter Tail County Commissioners take action with regards to AIS (to include writing a letter to the DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr expressing the seriousness of the issue in Otter Tail County).

On Tuesday, December 13th at 1:00 pm, the Otter Tail County COLA is on the Commissioners Agenda to speak about Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and to request that the County take action.

 It is critical that each lake association is fully represented at this most important County Commissioner’s meeting.  Please invite and encourage attendance by members of your lake association (resident/non-resident and non-members alike) and encourage your family and friends who recreate on the lakes, whether it is for hunting, fishing or simply enjoying a boat ride, to attend. 

 The Board of Commissioners meetings are held in the Commissioners’ Room (unless otherwise noted), at the Otter Tail County Government Services Center 515 Fir Ave W. Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The meetings are open to the public.

 The OTC COLA has been allotted 30 minutes; the COLA has a 20+ minute PowerPoint presentation which will leave less than 10 minutes for answering Commissioner’s questions and taking comments from the audience.  If you would like to comment, please come prepared and considerate of the time limitations when requesting to speak towards the AIS issue.

 Questions?  Simply reply to this email with your questions/comments/concerns or call OTC COLA President Jeff Stabnow 218-770-1276.

 If your schedule (or the schedule of those that you invite and encourage to attend) does not permit attendance on Tuesday, please call your Commissioner today and ask for their support.

1st District Commissioner Douglas A. Huebsch 218-849-0843 or 218-346-49942nd District Commissioner Wayne D. Johnson 218-863-75003rd District Commissioner & Chair John Lindquist 218-589-81614th District Commissioner Roger Froemming 218-338-92835th District Commissioner & Vice Chair Lee Rogness 218-737-6148 Thank you, in advance, for your show of support. Shawn Olson, OTC COLA Past President 

Now Mandatory. Lake Service Provider Workshops begin in January 2012Minnesota Waters is currently developing Lake Service Provider (LSP) Workshops for 2012 winter and spring.  These workshops are now mandatory for any business that moves equipment such as docks, lifts, and boats from water body to water body in Minnesota. These businesses are the focus of a new law that makes it mandatory for “individuals or businesses hired to install or remove water-related equipment or structures from waters of the state” to obtain a permit before they can go into the state’s waters. The permits will cost around $50 and will be valid for 3 years. In order to obtain a permit, each business must attend LSP aquatic invasive species training and pass an examination on the information that they learned during the workshop.  The LSP aquatic invasive species workshops are designed to educate lake service providers on their significant role in preventing the transfer of aquatic invasive species between lakes and rivers in Minnesota. You Can Help! You can help make sure that your local businesses are trained and permitted before ice out of 2012 by taking a few simple steps to help spread the word. Here’s how:·        
  • Ask lake residents (members & non-members) for contact information (name, address & phone number) for who they are using for installing or removing lifts, etc.,·        
  • Send the contact information for the Lake Service Provider used and/or your know about to before December 31, 2011.·        
  • Post a notice in your 2012 lake or river association newsletter ·  

     Forward information about the LSP workshops to your email contactsMore information about the workshops will soon be available at . Please contact Carrie Maurer-Ackerman, Program Director at for more information.