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Editorial: Batten down the hatches against AIS?

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“Invasive species are notorious for outcompeting local flora and fauna,” according to The Scientist magazine.

And despite an increasingly aggressive approach by Minnesota’s DNR, zebra mussels are creeping their way north.

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It’s only a matter of time before Hubbard County sees them.

But some aren’t waiting. The Fish Hook Lake Association will appear before the county park board July 28 to see if it can close one of its public access points.

This is what the war against AIS has come down to – lake property owners versus lake users.

It’s going to be an ugly fight.

Aquatic Invasive Species to date know no mechanical controls. Mowing, cutting, biological control and other methods have only met with limited success.

Long-term chemical use is politically unpalatable and the unknowns of further distressing ecosystems and wildlife outweigh their application.

Personal responsibility is having mixed results.

Hubbard County – and the DNR – thought education might be the key to help stop the spread of invasive species.

Education, awareness, watercraft inspections and decontamination have been the backbone of the county’s efforts.

But Fish Hook Lake residents want to go one step further – limiting access to a lake.

It will be a domino effect if they are successful.

Next up – pristine Big Mantrap Lake. Who wants to wrestle a 60-inch muskie into the boat covered with scales or mussels hanging on it?

Minnesotans don’t want to see their favorite summer activity deteriorate, their lakefront property values similarly deteriorate or permanent ecological damage to their way of life here because chemical treatments ruined lake infrastructure.

But long-term solutions still evade us.

Columnist Mike Gravdahl maintains no one has the right to prevent access to a lake.

It is sad to see lake residents fed up with a minimum of government involvement throw out the “Not welcome” signs. It’s bad for tourism, bad for each lake that does it.

Minnesota needs to step up its invasive species game. Infested waters put our very heritage at risk, many believe.

Government needs to take a larger role in enforcement to protect waters that are public, not privately held.

The army of volunteers coordinated by Hubbard County’s Soil and Water Conservation District is the envy of the state.

But it’s just not enough, many lake residents say. Fish Hook Lake residents are not talking, but say they were only going to the Park Board to explore their options. The Park Board says they were approached about closing an access.

Do we want to take such drastic measures as closing our waterways down?

Making them less accessible basically does just that.

PARK RAPIDS ENTERPRISE

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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