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Carlson is county's new AIS coordinator

Jamin Carlson reports decontamination of watercraft is up “dramatically” this summer, thanks to the public becoming more aware of AIS. (Jean Ruzicka/ Enterprise

Jamin Carlson has joined the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District staff as water quality/resource specialist and aquatic invasive species coordinator.  “I wear a lot of hats,” he joked of his wordy title.  He arrived on scene earlier this summer to work with 42 paid AIS inspectors in Hubbard County, all of whom are certified by the Department of Natural Resources, the SWCD serving as the fiscal agent.  Recent legislative apportionment for AIS watercraft inspection has strengthened the program significantly.  

“Decontaminations are up dramatically,” Carlson reports, citing summaries from last year, when 18 had been conducted as of July 20, compared with 110 this summer, as of this week.  The Hubbard County watercraft decontamination site is located at the south transfer station. But decontamination can be done at a car wash, if a boat sits out of the water for several days or simply pulling off the weeds, he said.  The county’s veliger vigilance is paying off. Testing for veliger – microscopic zebra mussel youth – came back negative on the 29 lakes tested in Hubbard County, the majority of them conducted by volunteers.  Early detection monitoring for zebra mussels is being done via lake associations, he said. Members test for adult zebra mussels by suspending a brick from a dock at about a foot from the bottom, he explained. Veliger sit in 15 to 20 feet of water, he said, sinking as the exterior shell develops.  He attributes the growing public awareness of AIS to the state funding kicking in.  

 “The word’s out,” he said of radio spots, billboards and signs at public landings.  A recently-introduced DNR website (https://web apps15.dnr.state.mn.us/ais_ decon_sites) holds information on locations of the sites in the state.  “Clean, drain and dry is the DNR mantra,” Carlson said.  “Kids love this,” he said of children reminding parents of the aquatic villains when departing a lake.  He’s learned Hubbard County is a vanguard in the state in the battle with AIS. “I’m sharing information with other counties that are in the infancy stages,” he said.  Last year, 8,708 inspections were made between fishing opener and July 20 in Hubbard County. This year, 13,426 have been conducted during the same time period.  AIS programs focus on containment or protection. “We’re protection,” he said. “Our lakes are still pristine.”  

Originally from Duluth, Carlson holds degrees in environmental science and applied public policy.  “This is what I want to be doing,” said the former Beltrami County AIS inspector.  “AIS consumes me,” he said of his focus from April to October, his subsequent schedule comprised of reports and water quality issues.

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