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Zebra mussels caught at Plantagenet, Big Stony Lake watercraft inspections

Aaron Anderson, Hubbard County aquatic invasive species (AIS) program coordinator, recently recapped the results of the 2022 season.

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels
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Aaron Anderson, Hubbard County aquatic invasive species (AIS) program coordinator, recently recapped the results of the 2022 season with the Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations.

Hubbard County 2022 AIS Program
Lakes highlighted in yellow are infested with an aquatic invasive species. Benedict, Garfield and Long Lake are in bold, italicized because they have confirmed zebra mussels. Red boxes are lakes that had over 20% of incoming watercraft entering from infested waters, while orange represents over 10%. Hubbard County AIS program coordinator Aaron Anderson circled the lakes that may need more oversight or sampling.
Contributed/Hubbard County Environmental Services Office

Notable events

There were no new, official AIS infestations in Hubbard County this year.

However, Anderson said watercraft inspectors did discover a couple cases of AIS violations.

In August, live zebra mussels were found on an incoming boat to the Lake Plantagenet access.

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“It was wrapped up with vegetation on a trolling motor that was coming from Big Wolf just recently,” he explained.

In mid-September, Anderson said dead zebra mussel shells were found on a bunk trailer that was parked at the same access.

“The thought is the zebra mussels were attached to the hull of a boat when it was loaded and got crushed on the bumps. When they unloaded, the shells were left behind,” Anderson said.

Eurasian milfoil was found on the boat ramp on Big Mantrap Lake. It was laying on the ground, Anderson said, so it’s unknown whether or not there is a viable population in the lake.

Starry stonewort was pulled from Big Wolf Lake.

A single zebra mussel was found on Big Stony Lake. The DNR did not find anything else on dives in the area, Anderson said.

Multiple neighboring infestations

Anderson reported that starry stonewort was confirmed in Lake Bemidji and Turtle River Lake in Beltrami County, plus Bowen and Thunder lakes in Cass County. Zebra mussels were also discovered in Thunder Lake. Faucet snails were confirmed in Stocking Lake in Wadena County.

Less boat traffic

There were 41 Level I and four Level II watercraft inspectors this year.

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During 2022, AIS inspectors were stationed at 34 public accesses from fishing opener through Sept. 30. Inspection hours increased from 15,204 last year to 16,266 this year.

They conducted roughly 21,650 inspections, down compared to about 23,700 last year.

Anderson noted that Big Mantrap Lake continued inspections into October.

Anderson reported 99.03% compliance with the drain plug law and 97.86% on all other AIS laws.

“There was an overall reduction in the amount of boat traffic,” Anderson said,adding, “Total number of inspections this year was at a five-year low; however, inspection hours were at a five-year high.”

Anderson speculated that higher gas prices may have had an impact. “Perhaps being out of the COVID coma, people were getting busy again. I don’t know. It was worth noting,” he said.

Hubbard County 2022 AIS Program
Anderson reviewed boat inspections on the top 10 lakes in Hubbard County, noting that Lake Plantagenet was the only one to have a significant increase this year.
Contributed/Hubbard County Environmental Services Offices

Anderson reviewed boat inspections on the top 10 lakes in Hubbard County, noting that Lake Plantagenet was the only one to have a significant increase this year. “They had roughly 400 more surveys than in years past, while every other lake was going down.”

As a courtesy to the public, the county operates a free decontamination station, located at 812 Henrietta Ave. S., Park Rapids. It’s available seven days a week, by appointment, from fishing opener through September.

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Decon inspectors completed 83 decontaminations this year, compared to 166 in 2021. The decrease is “a big mystery,” Anderson said because the station was not offline for repairs. He expressed disappointment at the low figure.

The county AIS program is largely funded by the state: $262,672 in 2022.

Lake associations and townships/cities provide supplemental funding to the county.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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