LETTER: A clear danger to Hubbard, Beltrami, Clearwater county lakes
United Way Bemidji, Leuken’s Village Foods and Dick Beardsley are sponsoring a three-day fishing tournament on all lakes in Hubbard, Beltrami, and Clearwater counties July 24-26.
At the state Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) suggestion, this event is using a quirk in Minnesota rules to get around the need for a tournament permit and its rules for protecting lakes from AIS. That’s the same DNR that has been spearheading a major effort to limit the spread of AIS.
If you wanted to spread AIS through the lakes of Hubbard, Beltrami, and Clearwater counties, this tournament gives you the perfect opportunity.
Minnesota Administrative Rules 6212.2700 Contest Operation, Subp. 3. clearly addresses what we all should understand and be doing to prevent AIS spread: “Inspection and removal of invasive species, including, but not limited to, species such as zebra mussels or Eurasian watermilfoil, as provided by [four Minnesota Statutes] from boats, trailers, and related equipment entering and leaving water accesses is required.”
“To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving infested waters:
Spray with high-pressure water.
Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
Dry for at least 5 days.”
It is hard to imagine contestants hopping from lake to lake pausing to follow those rules.
On July 13, the DNR announced that Eurasian watermilfoil had been found near the public access in Big Mantrap Lake. The DNR news release stated that any treatment is unlikely to eradicate the invasive, and now the local lake association has to deal with it. The only real cure of AIS is prevention in the first place.
AIS in any lake hits property owners in their pocketbooks. A Bemidji State University team, commissioned by the Legislative Commission for Minnesota Resources, examined the impact of water clarity on lakeshore property values. The study concluded that for every meter (3.3 feet) of decline in water clarity, property values went down $98 (expressed in 2020 dollars) per foot of lake shore frontage. The smallest width of properties on our lake is 150 feet and would suffer a nearly $15,000 reduction in valuation.
The University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has a study underway on the impact of Eurasian watermilfoil on lakeshore property values. Unfortunately, that research won’t be completed until 2021. If water clarity degradation has as much negative impact on lakeshore property values, AIS contamination devaluation is guaranteed to be catastrophically worse.
Lawsuits against planners, sponsors, and participants of the event would likely follow.
Even if the DNR suggested this end run around the protective rules, we are surprised that Mr. Beardsley would choose to take such a threatening course for our lakes. Mr. Beardsley claims to “have a passion for the great outdoors.” He could demonstrate his passion for the great outdoors by canceling this event, or at least allowing lake associations to opt out of the event to protect and preserve lakes from the threat of AIS.