New state funding directed to local AIS efforts

Legislature Provides Supplemental Funds for Invasive Species

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 Support for Local Level Activities

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The Minnesota legislature bypassed the DNR when it recently directed that the newly appropriated funds to fight aquatic invasive species go straight to the local level.

The DNR is still receiving its usual appropriation and will continue working on aquatic invasive species.

Lake associations, in an area including Crow Wing County, in recent years  spent nearly three-quarters of a million dollars of their members’ funds to stop the advance of invasive species.

Efforts included hiring inspectors to check boats at local accesses, distributing invasive species flyers and brochures, running advertisements in local newspapers, and working with a nationally known scientist who is experimenting with a treatment for zebra mussels.

MN DNR Invasive Species Inspector checks trailer for zebra mussels and plants.

MN DNR Invasive Species Inspector checks trailer for zebra mussels and plants.

But with costs for LGU access inspectors running up to $14.00 per hour, and with numerous accesses to cover, the lake association well was running dry.

WAPOA and others argued that economic vitality and tax base of vacation destination areas like ours depended on keeping our lakes attractive to visitors.

In some areas of Minnesota  cities, townships, and counties, along with local organizations all contribute financially to a single effort.

Crow Wing County was willing to provide administrative services for the scheduling of inspectors, but the lake associations had to reimburse Crow Wing County for all of those costs.

The 2014 MN Legislature, recognizing those on the local level, appropriated funds to be distributed through each County, each of which was given wide latitude in the spending of the funds.

Recognizing the urgency of the problem, the legislation included early distribution of the monies.   Crow Wing County received the funds on July 21, 2014.

help_stop_thumbnailAbout $100,000 will be immediately available to help pay for invasive species inspectors in 2014.  This is a welcome relief.   About an equal amount will be used for other AIS purposes, including sharing costs of treatment for invasive plants with lake associations .

Using invasive Eurasian watermilfoil as an example, it is generally very expensive to treat once it establishes a foothold in a lake.

One should also be reminded that there are many other invasive species, not yet here, that have the potential to do well in our lakes if they are not kept out.  For most there is no way to get rid of them once they are here.

Many have the potential to cause profound change in the long established relationships in our lakes.   Most changes will probably not be for the good.