Park Rapids to fund AIS inspections
By Anna Erickson
Park Rapids will again help to fund Aquatic Invasive Species inspections.
Nate Sitz, Hubbard County’s Water Quality Specialist requested that the city contribute $2,000 to the program, which included policing of 16 lakes throughout the county.
A large group of lake volunteers and paid staff manned public access points during peak hours to ensure compliance with state laws cracking down on transporting AIS.
From May 10, 2013 through Oct. 13, 2013, 10,664 inspections were done. The total number of hours spent on inspections was 6,659.75.
The city of Park Rapids includes homes along Fish Hook Lake and Fish Hook River, which have busy public access points.
The public access on Fish Hook Lake was manned with inspectors in 2013. A total of 596 boats were inspected and 284.75 hours were spent at the access.
Of all the inspections, 34, or 9.5 percent of the boats, had been in infested waters before entering Fish Hook Lake.
Sitz explained that the city should be concerned about AIS because property values could decrease if the water becomes contaminated.
“It could be a loss of $35,000 annually in taxes to the city of Park Rapids,” Sitz said.
He based his number on market values of homes on Fish Hook Lake and Fish Hook River.
Ken Grob, a member of Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations, said the Department of Natural Resources is only interested in funding containment for lakes already infested with AIS. He praised Hubbard County’s efforts to shield the lakes.
“We did almost 22 percent of inspections in the state,” Grob said. “This is a partnership. Everyone is involved. I don’t think anyone here would want to see zebra mussels.”
The county, townships and lake associations also contribute to the inspection program.
Park Rapids Mayor Pat Mikesh said he thought the funding commitment was a one-time deal in 2013.
Grob said he thought it would likely be on a year-to-year basis until a sustainable funding source from the state can be figured out.
The council approved a $2,000 contribution to the inspection program for 2014.