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Letter: AIS impacts all of us

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AIS continues to expand into the state's watersheds and Hubbard County like other counties, in the state are at risk. Lake groups are leading the effort to stop or slow the spread of aquatic invasive species with costly lake access inspections and education efforts. Funding is necessary to continue. Ken Grob, a Hubbard County COLA member, works tirelessly to garner support from county, city and townships. Can lake group funding efforts be sustained? Current efforts by lake groups, particularly in Hubbard County, need to be recognized and appreciated. But the battle to stop or slow the spread of AIS should not just rest on their shoulders. It is a regional and state concern.

Lakeshore Owners Impact: I have not been able to find any documented proof that the presence of zebra mussels will lower property values, but their introduction into any water resource is not good. Keeping them out in the first place is the best. Currently, an effective means to radicate, after they are in the lakes or rivers is not available.

A recent Vermont study, however, supports that the introduction of Eurasian watermilfoil, an exotic species of plants reduces lakeshore property values by 16.4 percent. With the focus on zebra mussels we must not overlook preventing plants like Eurasian milfoil and Hydrilla being introduced into our lakes and river watersheds.

Anglers, AIS will negatively impact you, if you're a walleye fisherman, zebra mussels in any key walleye lake or river has the ability to filter water of zoo plankton and algae a critical food source necessary to support a healthy walleye population. To date, Zebra mussels have not totally decimated a game fish population. They do negatively impact the food chain reducing the reducing the food source for baitfish like alewives, a recent Lake Michigan salmon study pointed out. Zebra mussels filter valuable food sources of zoo plankton and algae critical to sustaining salmon's food source of alewives and salmon fry.

It is clear the negative impact of AIS is a local, county, regional and statewide concern. To date the fight against AIS is at best fragmented without the statewide effort and funding.. The negative impact to all of us AIS has on our water resources, deserves, at the very least statewide focus. Water has no boundaries. Hubbard County could have the best plan in place to educate and inspect watercraft! What about the lakes and rivers in adjoining counties that feed the Hubbard County lower watershed. If neighboring counties are not on the same page on prevention efforts our counties lakes and rivers are at a risk for AIS infestations. For example, Zebra mussels ending up in the top of any watershed will spread throughout the system without any regard to county boundary lines.

Now is time to work towards, statewide funding, continued education and prevention efforts. A statewide effort is far more cost effective and efficient. Minnesota's water resources needs our help. A statewide effort including education, prevention and funding should be a top priority to preserve the lakes and rivers we all cherish.

Gary Korsgaden

FM Walleyes Unlimited lifelong founding member, Park Rapids

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