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AIS inspectors have important roles

Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragon football coach Daniel Fatland caught this beautiful northern pike on Mantrap Lake on July 13. AIS inspectors have been at the Mantrap public access trying to deter the introduction of invasive species into the lake and numerous others regionally for a couple years. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Aquatic Invasive Species inspectors positioned at key public access launch sites around Park Rapids have an important job.

It’s a reality that invasive species are spreading statewide and unfortunately it’s likely that in the future our lakes will become contaminated.

The education provided by the AIS inspectors and their diligent work is a huge asset to Hubbard County. Preventing zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil and other invasives on a long list from infiltrating our lakes is a daunting task.

Though the AIS inspectors have only been in attendance for the past couple years, the learning curve for both the people launching boats and the inspectors has changed.

Boaters now understand that the inspectors aren’t “out to get them.” Giving a citation is rare. And the boat inspectors realize that people going in and out of the lakes aren’t purposely trying to break the rules.

For those who don’t understand the rules, they’re actually quite simple. Lake water, weeds or invasive species in your boat or on your trailer are prohibited.

Bunk trailers, with the carpeted rails are popular because it makes launching and loading a boat simple. You can unhook the boat before launching and it won’t come off the trailer like it would with rollers. Loading your boat takes less than a minute. Carefully drive it onto the trailer and it will stick. You can shut off the engine, jump out, latch the bow hook and you’re finished.

You legally need to pull all of your livewell and bait-well plugs, the transom plug, lower your engine to drain all water and remove vegetation from the trailer and interior and exterior of the boat.

The negative aspect of a bunk trailer is carpeting. Weeds easily adhere to the bunks and water takes a long time to drain.

Dean Christofferson, a veteran angler from our area, has replaced his carpeted bunks with synthetic bunks. In a sense, they’re plastic. They don’t hold water and the weeds don’t adhere as easily.

My bunks are carpeted. But I diligently maintain them. I simply have a stiff scrub brush in the bed of my truck that I use to remove hitchhikers when I pull the trailer from the water after launching. And I visit the car wash a couple times a week to pressure wash all of the equipment.

Moving from lake to lake is commonplace for most people who live around here or vacation in the area. AIS are present in a few lakes in the region and are continually creeping closer. The Whitefish Chain near Brainerd, Mille Lacs and Leech Lake are just a few of the larger lakes not far out of the area that have been adversely affected.

Clean, drain and dry your boat, and take advantage of an option that many people don’t realize is currently available. Contact the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District to have your boat decontaminated by calling (218) 732-0121. The decontamination station is located at Johnson’s on the Water in Dorset by appointment only.