Two zebra mussel violations were caught – and infestations potentially averted – last summer, thanks to watercraft inspectors at the Kabekona Lake public access.

“We were able to take care of them. They opted to come down to the decon station and get their equipment brought back into compliance,” reported Nicholas Macklem, a Hubbard County Environmental Services specialist. “We’re glad we had inspectors there in order to catch those attached mussels.”

Macklem spoke Oct. 31 to the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations. He shared highlights of the county’s 2019 aquatic invasive species (AIS) program.

Macklem noted that 53 water inspectors were hired for the season, the bulk of whom had prior experience.

“The lead inspector engaged 39 different resorts in the county,” sharing best AIS prevention practices, he said.

Macklem said he is still tallying data, but as of now, there were over 23,000 inspections. “Of those inspections, over 99 percent of boaters were compliant with the drain plug law. It has been getting better over time,” he said. “There’s always going to be a small percentage of folks who don’t listen to us, regardless what we say.”

Ninety-seven percent were compliant all other AIS boat laws.

“It can be difficult to get every little piece of vegetation off the trailer, so we use that as an education opportunity at the access,” Macklem said.

In mid-August, volunteers combed 12 public accesses on eight lakes for starry stonewort, one of Minnesota’s newest aquatic invasive species. Nothing suspicious was found, Macklem said.

Transportation violation

Another violation was discovered at the Hubbard County decontamination station, located at 812 Henrietta Ave S.

Someone with a boat lift wanted to move it from Long Lake to Eagle Lake on the same day, Macklem said. “They thought if they got a decon they were exempt from the 21-day dry time law, but you’re not. Luckily, our inspector contacted me right away.”

In all, there were 164 free decontaminations, up about 20 from 2018. Usage has increased slightly each year since 2016, when the county took over the decon program, Macklem said.

Infested waters update

Macklem reported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed that faucet snails are present in Fourth Crow Wing.

“It’s not good to see, but it’s not super surprising to me,” he said. “The faucet snail has been found in Third Crow Wing and it’s slowly making it way up that chain.”

Duck Lake and Upper Bottle Lake were also added to the state’s infested waters list due to faucet snails, Macklem said. Signs will be posted.

“The other infestation that is still yet to be confirmed is Big Mantrap for Eurasian watermilfoil,” he said, adding the DNR will not be able to inspect the waters until next spring.

Last month, the DNR announced that zebra mussel larvae were found water samples taken from Lomond Lake, which abuts Bagley. Lomond became the first Clearwater County lake listed for zebra mussels.

Zebra mussel larvae were also in a water sample taken from Ten Mile Lake, near Hackensack, in Cass County.

“It’s definitely worth noting it seems like it’s creeping a little closer each year, but we’ll do our best to prevent that from getting any closer,” Macklem said of zebra mussels.