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A cluster of zebra mussels sits on a navagation buoy that was pulled from Lake Superior by the USCG Cutter Alder. Park Service officials have confirmed the presence of zebra mussels on Isle Royale. Plans call for the complete eradication of the colony from the island's waters. (File / News Tribune)
A cluster of zebra mussels sits on a navagation buoy that was pulled from Lake Superior by the USCG Cutter Alder. Park Service officials have confirmed the presence of zebra mussels on Isle Royale. Plans call for the complete eradication of the colony from the island's waters. (File / News Tribune)

Zebra mussel fight in Douglas County heating up

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The Douglas County Lakes Association (DCLA) is taking another step in its prevention efforts to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels.

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The association, according to Bonnie Huettl, a member of the DCLA, is planning to submit three grants to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The grants are being written by DCLA, but can include all lakes within Douglas County, not just those that are members of DCLA.

A meeting with the DNR and the DCLA has been set for this Friday, January 8 at 4 p.m. in the Douglas County Public Works meeting room. Huettl explained that the meeting is open to the public and was organized by the DLCA as a way to obtain information from other lake associations throughout the county that want to participate in the grant programs.

In a telephone interview Monday morning, Huettl explained the three separate prevention grants that are being sought.

The first grant, according to Huettl, is a public awareness grant that would provide money to pay for signage about aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil, spiny fleas and other species. The signs could include billboards for alongside roadways, placemats or tent cards at restaurants and other businesses, along with other marketing material to help spread the word about aquatic invasive species.

The second grant, which is a prevention grant, also deals with signage, but is specific to boat accesses. Huettl explained that these signs would be in addition to the ones already found at boat accesses that have been placed by the DNR.

The signs would include information if the body of water it is posted on is on the DNR's infested waters list, along with tips for boaters to make sure they keep their boats clean by emptying water and thoroughly inspecting their boats for aquatic invasive species.

Signs would be placed at all public accesses and private accesses, although Huettl noted that private access owners would be responsible for placing the signs at their access.

The third and final grant, which may be of utmost importance, is a watercraft inspections grant.

According to Huettl, the DCLA is interested in applying for the watercraft inspections grant in cooperation with area lake associations.

Money from the grant, which is a matching grant program, would help pay to have a DNR inspector at each of the public accesses (there are nine total) on the seven lakes that are listed on the infested waters list - L'Homme Dieu, Geneva, Carlos, Jessie, Victoria, Darling and Alvin.

"This is a proactive step to help contain aquatic invasive species to those lakes," said Huettl.

The DNR already provides inspectors, but not all the time and mostly just on the weekends, she added.

The cost to have a DNR boat inspector is $12 per hour. The grant would pay for half of the cost, which would leave lake associations picking up the rest of the cost.

In a letter from the DCLA, area lake association members were asked if they would be interested in paying for boat inspections on their lakes or the chain of lakes, and if so, they needed to determine the number of hours they would be willing to pay the $6 rate.

Interested parties are to notify Huettl before the Friday, January 8 meeting.

They can also call her at (320) 834-3287 for more information.

Information needed for grant application

Any lake association interested in participating in the grant application process with DCLA needs to provide the following information to Huettl before or at the January 8 meeting:

•Number of lake accesses, number of parking spaces at each access, type of sign requested and if the lake is infested by any invasive species.

•A board action agreeing to participate in the grant process for signage.

•A board action allocating the amount of money an association is willing to spend on watercraft inspections at boat landings and if the inspections will be on one lake or the chain of lakes.

•Appointment of a contact person to see the process through. This person would need to be available for the January 8 meeting with the DCLA and the DNR.

The deadline for applying for the grants is January 18. On February 7, lake associations will be notified if they will be receiving funding. Between February and March, plans must be finalized and by November 2 of this year, projects must be completed.

Anyone with questions can call Bonnie Huettl at (320) 834-3287.

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