AIS efforts ramp up for state opener
As anglers prepare for the walleye and northern pike season opener this weekend, Hubbard County aquatic invasive species prevention efforts are preparing to increase the inspection and education program.
“Prevention is the most effective method to deal with invasives. Everyone is responsible,” said Nate Sitz, Hubbard County’s Water Quality Specialist. “Our lakes are what makes Hubbard County special and they should be used responsibly.”
Inspection and education are key to keeping area lakes clean, he said.
“We’re trying to shield Hubbard County lakes from AIS,” Sitz said.
In 2014, 26 lakes will have inspectors for 8,300 hours. There are 30 inspectors.
The program is funded largely by private donations with help from cities, townships, the Department of Natural Resources and Hubbard County.
“Last year we did over 10,000 inspections, which was 10,000 opportunities to educate boaters about what they can do to reduce the risk of transporting invasives,” Sitz said.
About 10 percent of boats inspected in 2013 were last in infested waters, he added.
“AIS infestation could affect fishing, recreation and lake ecology,” he said.
This year watercraft decontamination will be available at no cost. It will be available on-call starting Saturday, May 10 and then have regularly scheduled hours on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon-6 p.m. starting Friday, May 30.
The decontamination unit will be located at the Hubbard County south transfer station.
Boats with ballast tanks, boats in water over 24 hours and boats that will be in more than one body of water during the same day are at higher risk for moving invasives, Sitz said.
Call 732-0121 or 252-6738 after hours to set up an appointment to use the decontamination unit.
People should also be reminded that used equipment such as docks and boat lifts must be left out of the water for 21 days, according to state law, Sitz said.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is also urging every angler to make a commitment to transport zero aquatic invasive species (AIS) this year.
Invasive species can be easily carried from one lake to another if aquatic plants and water are left on a boat or trailer. By taking a few simple precautions anglers can minimize the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas.
Zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota’s lakes and streams. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations and interfere with recreation.
Anglers must take these steps required by law before leaving any water access or shore:
- Clean aquatic plants and animals off boats, trailers and water-related equipment. It is illegal to transport them whether dead or alive.
- Drain water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait container, motor) and drain bilge, livewell, and baitwell by removing drain plugs.
- Keep drain plugs out and water draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
- Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel and spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that anglers either:
- Spray with high-pressure water.
- Rinse with very hot water (120° for 2 minutes or 140° for 10 seconds).
- Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.
For more information go to www.dnr.state.mn.us.