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Zebra mussels

City of Park Rapids joins county, COLA in AIS fight

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Park Rapids wants to join the fight against Aquatic Invasive Species.

The city council asked staff to look for $2,000 in the budget to contribute to the Hubbard County Coalition of Lakes Association water inspection program in 2013.

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Ken Grob, Hubbard County COLA member, said the spread of AIS continues to expand.

"We are at risk here in Hubbard County," he said.

Grob noted that zebra mussels have infested lakes in Otter Tail and Douglas Counties.

Also, the Minnesota Department of Natural resources reported late this week that an effort to kill zebra mussels discovered in Lake Irene and Rose Lake was unsuccessful.

Early last week, DNR confirmed the presence of juvenile zebra mussels in Lake Miltona. Lake Miltona is located north of Lake Carlos and downstream of Lake Irene in Douglas County.

DNR biologists found numerous small zebra mussels on several boatlifts and rocks in a small area of the lake. No adult zebra mussels were found.

DNR has also confirmed that zebra mussels have been found in the Otter Tail River below Orwell Reservoir. Low water levels in the Otter Tail River below Orwell Reservoir revealed zebra mussels of various sizes attached to rocks and debris.

Lake Ida will also be designated for precautionary reasons because it is the next lake downstream of Miltona. The Pelican River is already designated as infested waters from Bucks Mill Drive downstream to the confluence with Otter Tail River.

Jan Rumpza, member of the Fish Hook Lake and River Association, also attended the meeting. That association has contributed money to the watercraft inspection efforts. She encouraged the city to contribute to the program as well.

"We have been doing most of the heavy lifting until last year, when Hubbard County jumped on board," Grob said of COLA's efforts to prevent the spread of AIS.

The core of the program is boat inspections. A contribution from the city and Fish Hook Lake and River Association will fund an inspector at the river access at Heartland Park and north of the city on Fish Hook Lake.

In 2012, Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District and COLA received a DNR Local Government Unit Water Inspection grant. Thirteen lakes participated in the county this summer, which included two of the main watersheds.

"This was the largest program in the state," Grob said.

Sixteen inspectors were hired and more than 5,025 hours were spent on inspections.

The goal for 2013 is to increase inspections and have more lakes and rivers participate in the program.

Grob is attending township boards and councils throughout the county to garner support and increased participation. SWCD and COLA are applying for two DNR inspection grants for 2013.

Park Rapids should be concerned about AIS because if lakes become infested, property values decrease, Grob said.

City council members said the DNR should be funding these programs entirely. Grob agreed, but said they can't wait for them to step up in a year or two.

"If we wait, we'll already be infested," he said. "Hubbard County has been a leader in this for the last six to seven years. I'm not a proponent of shutting down launch sites."

City staff was asked to find $2,000 somewhere in the budget or liquor store reserves to fund this program.

More information about aquatic invasive species is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
(218) 732-3364
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