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An inspector checked the prop of a boat at the Lake Carlos access last summer. Echo Press file photo.

Putting pressure on mussels

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Douglas County commissioners added an extra tool to the county's arsenal of zebra mussel weaponry at Tuesday's board meeting.

Land and Resource Director Dave Rush's request to purchase a decontamination unit from Mobile Washer in Alexandria was approved. The board's decision is in line with the resolution passed last spring for the county to operate its own decontamination unit.

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"[Mobile Washer] is comparable to a unit that is put together by LANDA," Rush said.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) plans to purchase 20 units statewide - 10 from LANDA and 10 from Hydro Tek, Rush said.

Rush wanted to keep the business in the county. Mobile Washer is able to produce a pressure washer unit within the state's specifications at a lower cost - $17,299.

"Certainly a good price," said Commissioner Jerry Johnson. "Better than the [price] we were looking at by far."

Rush previously estimated the cost of a high-pressure mobile decontamination unit at $21,000. The unit was ordered on Tuesday and is expected to be delivered in a few weeks.

The department has also started looking for a truck, costing less than $6,000, to haul the washer from site to site.

Rush said the department is in the process of hiring watercraft inspectors to operate the decontamination units.

PLAN OF ATTACK

The DNR has released its 2012 watercraft inspection plan. The plan allocates a total of 5,283 inspection hours to lakes in Douglas County. Focusing primarily on the bodies of water infested with zebra mussels in the chain of lakes, the plan also includes Lakes Miltona, Ida and Latoka.

In 2011, the Douglas County Lakes Association was given a DNR grant for inspections on Douglas County lakes between May 14 and October 16, 2011. Lakes L'Homme Dieu, Victoria, Geneva and Carlos were included in a report compiled by Anna Ness, DNR watercraft inspection assistant.

Ness reported 2,872 inspections had been completed in 1,116.75 hours. The grant was intended to accomplish 2,120 hours of inspection, 500 grant hours and 1,620 DNR hours, but because of the state shutdown and difficulty hiring interns in the area, fewer hours were cataloged.

Bonnie Huettl, Douglas County Lakes Association president, noted during Tuesday's meeting that Zequanox has established an office in Minneapolis.

"They have been doing some testing in Chicago," Huettl said.

Zequanox is a company that produces a dead bacteria product used to combat zebra mussels.

OUT OF THE WATER

Rush also brought two items before the board that will change the landscape in parts of Douglas County.

The board approved requests for a permit to allow livestock in Ida Township and installation of a 39.9-kilowatt wind tower in Osakis Township.

Commissioner Paul C. Anderson questioned the ownership of towers that are installed. Rush explained that the tower is erected on private property. The property owner will enter into an agreement with a local power provider to either put energy back into the grid or sell the energy.

Rush noted that Douglas County does not currently have an ordinance related to wind power, however, an ordinance is being drafted.

The Douglas County Land and Resource Management office is changing its interior scenery with new carpeting. This improvement will affect the permitting process in the office from Friday through Tuesday.

Only small, simple projects will be accepted from April 13 through April 17 since the computers needed to process more complex applications will be inoperable. The office is expected to be back in full swing on Tuesday afternoon.

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