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COLA: Three thousand boat inspections

Hubbard County COLA (Coalition of Lake Associations) hosted speaker Heather Baird, Aquatic Habitat Specialist Sr. from the Minnesota DNR. Her topic was “Buffers & Forest = Healthy Lakes.”

With an emphasis on shoreline habitat, Baird showed several before and after photos of lakeshore properties with a native plant buffer zone, and discussed the impact that those native buffers have on water quality and fish habitat.

Baird shared that DNR studies have shown there is a direct connection between shoreline development and the water quality in lakes and watersheds.  Ideally, the goal is to protect 75 percent of the watershed of any lake and keep those areas forested, in other words, “protect the sponge” of the watershed.

Converting forested areas to agriculture or general (urban) development has been shown to deteriorate the water quality – the increase in phosphorus runoff can deplete the oxygenation in the lakes which impacts fish. The DNR is focusing study efforts on the cisco or tullibee lakes in the area because they are the “canary in the coal mine” regarding the deep well oxygenated water of the watershed. 

Cisco and tullibee are some of the primary food sources for our champion sport fish, walleye, northern, and muskie, for example. 

Baird discussed having a forest management plan to protect the forest. There are several protection tools available and include easements, zoning ordinances, county land trusts, school trust lands, riparian easements, working private forest easements, and stewardship plans. Contact the Soil & Water Conservation District for more information regarding a Tullibee/Forest Stewardship Plan, to see how you can help protect the forested area in the watershed.

Gearing up for the summer season, Hubbard County COLA is encouraging members to take advantage of the free AIS Early Detection training. There are two opportunities for training locally and videos available online on the Hubbard County COLA website.  Of the 29 lakes in the COLA, 16 have committed to implement AIS Early Detection program, and 14 have committed to participate in the AIS Early Detection training on June 19.

Another key element in the AIS battle is early identification.  Veliger sampling will go into its second year – with volunteer participants on several area lakes. The tiny veligers are the larva stage of the zebra mussels. Hubbard County COLA is sponsoring the veliger monitoring training being conducted by the RMB Lab on June 29.

AIS Early Detection Training will be taught by Mary Blickenderfer, U of M extension. It is open to the public. Pre-registration is required and limited to the first 25 people. Contact Sally Shearer to register at 732-3391.

Boat inspections are taking place regularly. There are 80-plus inspectors trained and working the public access points throughout the county.  Public service announcements, billboards, signage and additional print information are ways that the AIS task force is getting the word out. Between Fishing Opener (May 9) and May 27 – there were 3,012 inspections in Hubbard County.  

Hubbard County COLA announced the 2nd Annual Sports Sale on June 18-19 at the Environmental building of the Hubbard County Fairgrounds. Any donation of sports and outdoor equipment is welcome. Contact your local Lake Association COLA representative Lynn Goodrich or Dan Kittilson.