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Macklem takes over county AIS program

Nicholas Macklem

Nicholas Macklem, a new environmental specialist with the Hubbard County Environmental Services Office, will oversee the county's aquatic invasive species (AIS) program, watercraft inspections and decontamination station. He was hired on March 5.

Bill DonCarlos, the previous AIS coordinator, resigned in December 2017 to pursue a career in the sporting goods industry.

Macklem introduced himself to the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) on Thursday.

"My primary duty is overseeing the AIS program, in addition to various zoning and permitting duties," he said.

Originally from New Hope, Macklem said he has been visiting the county his whole life. He has family on Stony and Spider lakes. "So I'm very familiar with the area," he said.

Macklem graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2016 with a Bachelor's of Science in environmental geoscience. In 2017, he was a seasonal employee with the City of Eden Prairie in the environmental services department.

"In my time at Eden Prairie, I handled various AIS and stormwater wetland inspection duties, in addition to assisting with community outreach. On the personal side, I am an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting and camping," he said later in an interview. "My other main hobby is music. I play guitar, banjo, piano, and I will try just about any other instrument that I can get my hands on. I am very grateful for this opportunity at Hubbard County, and I appreciate all of the assistance and input that this active community has provided me while I am settling into my new role as environmental specialist."

2018 AIS update

"As many of you know, 2017 was kind of a big year for Hubbard County," Macklem told COLA members.

Five lakes were added to the state's infested waters list last year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources adds a lake, river, pond or wetland to its infested waters list if it contains an AIS that could spread to new waters. They also may be considered "infested" if they are connected to a body of water where AIS are present.

In 2017, zebra mussel larvae were confirmed in Garfield Lake. The county's first case of Eurasian watermilfoil was confirmed in Bad Axe Lake. Benedict Lake is considered "infected" with zebra mussels due to its physical connection with Leech Lake.

Faucet snails were identified in both Long Lake and Lake George. The faucet snail is "an intermediate host for three intestinal trematodes, or flukes, that can be fatal to ducks and coots," according to a DNR fact sheet.

Last year, the Hubbard County Board adopted protocols for distributing funds from its AIS Rapid Response Fund.

New this year, Macklem said, a zebra mussel adult was found in Steamboat Lake and faucet snails in Third Crow Wing Lake.

Macklem said 33 boat launches on 31 lakes are scheduled for watercraft inspections this open-water season. Inspectors will work a total of 14,752 hours. This is an increase of 341 hours from 2017, according to Macklem.

He thanked the lake associations, townships and cities for supplemental funding for the county AIS program. In 2018, lake associations contributed $85,000 and townships/cities roughly $30,000. This is in addition to the $250,000 the county receives in state aid for watercraft inspections.

One COLA member expressed concern about posting the inspection schedule on the county's website, suggesting anglers could avoid those lakes to avoid inspection.

"It's public information. We need to be transparent to the public. That's the stance of the county," Macklem replied.

COLA member Bob Berdahl noted that the watercraft inspection program is not a policing program, rather an educational one. "You'll never catch every boat going in and out of the lake," he said.