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COMMENTARY: A holiday reminder about aquatic invasive species in Hubbard County

Now that summer is upon us, many people in the area and from out of town are flocking to the pristine water of Hubbard County.

While out on the water this Fourth of July holiday, boaters and public water users should think about their own practices and the impact that each individual can have on our lakes and rivers.

In order to preserve these valuable natural resources for future generations to enjoy, Hubbard County operates a comprehensive aquatic invasive species (AIS) program.

Boaters and public water users should use AIS best management practices and should expect to see watercraft inspectors at many public accesses across Hubbard County.

When out at the boat access, remember to clean, drain and dispose. That means boaters must clean their watercraft of all aquatic plants, mud and prohibited invasive species; drain all water by lowering the motor, removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. To keep live bait, a fisherman can drain the existing bait water and refill the container with bottled or tap water. Remember, that it is the law.

Public water users can cut down on the risk of spreading invasive species by simply remembering to clean, drain and dispose.

In addition, decontamination is an important step in preventing the spread of AIS. If trailering a watercraft from a waterbody that is listed on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Infested Waters List, decontamination is a highly recommended protocol.

The decontamination process consists of three possible components: hand removal, hot water treatment and high-pressure treatment.

Organisms that are too small to see, such as young zebra mussels, can be killed by flushing with hot water ranging from 100 to 140 degrees.

As a courtesy to the public, the Hubbard County AIS Program operates a free watercraft decontamination station, which is located at 812 Henrietta Ave. S., Park Rapids and is available seven days a week by appointment. Call 218-252-6738 ahead of time to make a decontamination appointment. The station is staffed by watercraft inspectors who have special training and certification from the DNR. A typical decontamination is pretty quick, usually about 15 minutes.

If you have questions about the Hubbard County AIS Program or have suspicion of a new AIS infestation, call the Hubbard County Environmental Services Department at 732-3890 or stop in at 301 Court Ave., Park Rapids. We are located on the second floor of the courthouse, and are always willing to help!